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Phase III—Smooth Figures continued

by Roy & Phyllis Stier
March, 1989

HOVER FALLAWAY: A three-step figure using the first two steps of the Hover (see last month) followed by both partners turning away to a tight V--semi-closed position (SCP) while stepping loosely behind (man cross left in back and lady cross right in back) as the man uses his right shoulder for the lead in strong contra body. This is a toe step for both while maintaining a front poise with open heads. Quite often we use a slight turn to the left to position the partners for the next alignment---technically a "Hover Telemark Fallaway." Timing in fox trot is SQQ, and in quickstep is SSS. 

FALLAWAY REVERSE: This figure belongs in Phase III although it is listed in IV as "Fallaway to a Specified Position," which is not very definitive. As the name suggests, this is a left-turning figure leading to the fallaway position = promenade in ballroom terminology. It follows the same general pattern as a Reverse (left-face) Turn where the man turns the lady to the right between steps 2 & 3. Starting nearly always from facing diagonal center (DLC) with a heel lead and shaping to the left or CBMP, the man leads the lady to step back (toe/heel on her right) without any turn but some body rise. Step 2 leads into the fallaway motion so that the man will use his right shoulder moving backward on his right toe to create a continuation of the rise as he turns approximately 1/4 left-face. Since the lady is already moving in the right direction, she still has no turn but uses her left shoulder to lead her backward on the toe of her left. Step 3 is a continuation of the left-face turn for the man as he steps back on his left toe with a strong contra body action but being careful not to hook behind his right foot. His body turns less than his feet so that he is facing DRC from a DLC start. The lady turns approximately 5/8 to step back on her right toe in contra body to end in a tight V-SCP. This is the conventional way to do a Fallaway Reverse, but it is helpful if the man does a toe/heel on step 2 providing that he does not let his body fall backward---keeping his weight over the balls of the feet. The lady can then do the same---toe/heel on her left. 

SLIP PIVOT: The Fallaway Reverse leads nicely into the Slip Pivot, although it can be done from any facing direction where the couple is in V-SCP. The man steps back on his right toe and keeps his left in place with a feeling that the thighs are together as he pivots left-face and leads the lady left-face around to closed position. She has a late lowering after she has pivoted left-face for a 1/8 to 1/4 turn and must also maintain the contra body at the beginning of her pivot. Care must be taken not to fall back on the man's right so he can use his toe/heel movement (lady just toe) while holding his left leg in place. The amount of turn can vary from 1/8 to 1/2, depending upon what follows. 

In the combination of Fallaway Reverse to a Slip Pivot, timing for rhythms would be: fox trot---SQ&Q or SQQ& or QQQQ. For waltz it could be 12&3 or 123& (for advanced dancers) or 1&23. Quickstep is QQQQ. Although we cover tango later, it would be QQQQ or SQ&Q. 

WHISK: The generic Whisk is an old figure, which has an undetermined origin. We will cover the variations in Phase IV & V. The standard one is usually taken from closed position facing DLW. The man places his left foot nearly in front of his right on step 1 while the lady just steps back right as she makes a 1/8 right-face turn. Both will start a body rise on this step although the lady keeps her heel on the floor. Step 2 is to the side and slightly forward for the man on his right, but the lady steps diagonally back on her left to continue turning right-face an additional 1/8. Both will continue to rise on the toe as the man creates a left sway (lady right sway with toe pointing DLC). Step 3 is a crossing behind on the man's left and the lady's right to blend to V-SCP while creating sort of a platform at full body height but maintaining front poise. Note: The lady's body now completes the turn so that both feet and body face DLC. The man should allow his right arm to open a little with the elbow as the pivot point. This is sometimes called "allowing the lady to breathe." A good rule to follow is to allow the width of a foot between the left and right when crossing in back. The Whisk position can be created as a one-step movement from another lead and is then called a Whisk "line." 

If we wish to end in V-SCP facing DLC rather than the standard facing of DLW, the man will make the 1/4 left-face turn over the second and third steps while the lady will maintain her facing position. The body mechanics of all three steps remain the same. This variation is used when we wish to follow the Whisk with a Weave, Cross Hesitation, etc. Timing for fox trot is SQQ and for quickstep, SSS. 

WING: Again, this will be the common garden variety normally cued as Wing to Sidecar, with variations to follow in later phases. This figure is nearly always taken from V-SCP and ends in sidecar. The man takes a strong right step in contra body (normally pointing line of dance if started facing DLW but body still behind). The man will start to close his left on count 2 as his body starts a left-face rotation. On count 3, his left almost closes to his right without weight as he matches shoulder lines with the lady. She will step forward and around the man left, right, with approximately 1/8 left-face turn on each, starting to rise on 1 and continuing on 2 while starting a left sway. Step 3 will develop a strong left sway as she turns an additional 1/4 at full height where she has the feeling of climbing a tight spiral staircase and lifting her right side in the process. She should turn her head slowly over steps 2 and 3 so that she ends looking well over her left shoulder in contra sidecar. Note: The man has no sway, but he will have a little body rise on counts 2 and 3 with flat foot and some pressure on his right toe. Again, timing is the same as standard---SQQ for fox trot and SSS for quickstep. 

To complete Phase III, we must get into the Fishtail and fox trot turns next month. Then, we propose to take a little poetic license in order to develop the feather figures which transcend into Phase VI so that our gentle readers can keep the family together. 

This column comes from a series published in Cue Sheet Magazine between 1987 and 1992, and is reprinted with permission. The full series is collected in an 86-pg booklet, available for $30.00 plus postage. E-mail Fran Kropf at This article was published in the Dixie Round Dance Council (DRDC)  Newsletter, May 2010.


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