The Feather Figures II
by Roy &
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
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. This
article was published in the Dixie Round Dance Council (DRDC)
Newsletter, September 2010.