Meredith & Harold



MAJOR SECTIONS: Figures | Articles | Links | Alph. Index | Search | Home

Figures in the Smooth Rhythms
Viennese Waltz
International Tango
American Tango
Two Step
Five Count
One Step
Figures in the Latin Rhythms
Cha Cha
Single Swing
West Coast Swing
Slow Two Step
Argentine Tango
Paso Doble
Dance Articles
Articles Home

Dance Figures

Dance Rhythms
Lead and Follow
Dance Styling
Fred Astaire Album
Other Sections
Dance Links
Music Clips For Each Rhythm
Search Site/Web
Contact Me

The Feather Figures II

by Roy & Phyllis Stier
June, 1989

QUICK LEFT FEATHER: This is a left-turning figure in five steps which starts with the man facing line of dance (LOD) or DLC. It nearly always follows a Feather Step so that step 1 is where the man brings his partner to closed position (CP) with a heel lead (lady on toe) on his L with only a hint of shaping to the left. Step 2 is on the man's R with his right shoulder leading as he starts outside the lady on her left side with a fairly long step. The lady maintains her body height on her toe as she shapes to the left while backing on the left toe, head still in CP. On step 3, the man continues the left-face turn on the left toe, now in sidecar position as he brings his head well to the left. Ladies start back on their R turning to strong contra sidecar and still on the toes with head closed. Step 4 is a blending back to CP as both step to the side (man's R and lady's L) having completed a 5/8 left-face turn, both on the toes and the man bringing his head back to nearly closed. Step 5 is a backward one on the man's L toe, lowering to the heel as he turns only slightly more left-face to accommodate the lady in banjo position. The lady's step is forward on the R, lowering to the heel and keeping her head in CP. Timing is SQ&QQ and is exclusively a foxtrot figure. There is a variation used in round dancing where 1 1/2 measures are used---SQQQQ. The generic figure does not have a phase rating.

HOVER FEATHER: This is a fairly advanced figure because of the difficulty in executing the precedes, normally a Pull Step, Back Hover, or Lock Hover (the latter we will not cover). It only consists of two quick steps and starts normally facing DLC in CP. Since the preceding step must have the partners on the toes while ending a right-face turn, the man's body will continue to rotate a little right-face on step 1. He has a forward step on his L with a left shoulder lead while the lady backs in line on her R toe while bringing her right shoulder back, still maintaining body height with a lowering of toe to heel. This step requires a left sway for the man (lady right sway) and is the preparation for the actual feathering action to follow. On step 2 the man goes forward on his R, now in strong contra banjo, lowering from toe to heel and losing his sway. Ladies step backward on the L in contra banjo, again going from toe to heel but maintaining body height. This figure has no turn except the body turn noted above by the man. It is seldom used in round dancing and has no phase rating.

FOUR FEATHERS: This figure will complete the feather family with what is really an amalgamation of figures, but used often enough in this grouping to rate a listing on its own. It consists of the sequence Feather Step, modified Left Feather, Back Feather, and quick Feather Finish. Briefly, the directions are as follows: Following a Feather Step, normally with the man facing DLC (his R,--,L,R), start a left-face turn on the L going outside partner, --, continue the left-face turn side and back on the R with left shoulder lead preparing to step to the lady's left side, back L to contra sidecar facing DRC; continue left-face turn on the R back DLW blend to CP, back L LOD to contra banjo, back R LOD blending to CP, --; back L LOD with left shoulder leading, back R DLC to contra sidecar, side L LOD blending to CP, forward DLW to contra banjo. The 13 steps involved will be listed by footwork and timing to facilitate understanding the figure.

Man: H/T, --, T, T/H; H, --, T, T; T, T, T/H, --; T, T, T, T/H;

Lady: T/H, --, T/H, T/H; T, --, T, T/H; H/T, T, T/H, --; T, T, T/H, T/H;

Timing is: SQQSQQQQSQQQQ. Note the odd timing on the Feather Finish which must be followed by a slow step for the figure to follow (normally a Three Step).

THREE STEP: Perhaps the most vigorous of the foxtrot figures because of the driving steps involved, the Three Step is usually taken after a Feather Finish. The man takes a strong heel lead on his L (slow) with his right shoulder starting to turn to the left = shaping or contra body movement (CBM). The second step (quick) is also a heel lead because it is "underneath" partner with a rising to the toe at the end. The third step (quick) is a toe lead and is a follow through of the positive body motion forward with a full rise before lowering for the next figure---all passing steps. The lady starts backward with a skimming motion on her R before starting her actual body motion. Steps 2 and 3 are toe/heel with a little left shoulder lead (right sway) rising on the two quicks progressively, ready to lower for the next figure. There is a normal curve to the Three Step slightly to the left as a result of the right shoulder adjustment. The man will sway to the left to match the lady on her second step. This is a Phase IV figure and we will continue with this group until we use up all those listed, perhaps adding one or two to keep a logical sequence.

BACKWARD PASSING CHANGE: This is strictly a waltz figure where the man and lady exchange places in the performance of the foxtrot Three Step. It is listed under Phase IV as "Back" Passing Change. We will describe the one normally referred to and describe the variation later. Nearly always this figure starts with the man backing DLW starting with his R and using a dragging motion with the whole foot in a strong step before going to the toe and lowering to the heel. At this point, it differs from the lady's part of the Three Step because a curving motion is written into the description up to 1/8 left-face on step 2, however, the right sway is the same. The rise started on step 2 continues on 3 to full height with again the same right sway. The normal amount of curve over the three steps is 1/8 left-face, however, it can be turned up to 1/4 by dividing the amount over the second and the third.

The lady shapes to the left on her first or driving step with a strong heel lead on her L going to the toe with a small body rise. Her second step is somewhat like a follow through to use the momentum to curve left-face on the right toe. Step 3 is either straight ahead or continued curving for an additional 1/8, depending upon the required ending alignment. She has a left sway on steps 2 and 3, ending by lowering to the heel on 3.

BACKWARD PASSING CHANGE---VARIATIONS: When going from the end of a Natural Turn in waltz to a Backward Passing Change, everything is exactly opposite from the above description. This is sometimes referred to as a Backward Curving Three Step and the amount of turn again can vary from 1/8 to 1/4. It starts with the man backing on his L and the lady forward on her R leading to a right-face turning figure.

Next month, we will continue with Phase IV figures by starting with the Reverse Wave.

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, September 2010.


Alphabetical Index to
and Technique
Online since 2001 İHarold and Meredith Sears, Boulder, CO, All rights reserved.