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Beyond Feathers -- Phase IV

by Roy & Phyllis Stier
July, 1989

REVERSE WAVE: This is a three-step figure that is hidden between an underturned Reverse Turn and the Heel Pull, as described in ballroom books. Round dancers often make the mistake of calling the Reverse Turn a Reverse Wave when it is leading to something else like a Check & Weave. It is strictly a foxtrot figure with its counterpart in waltz called the Backward Passing Change (see last month's "Round About").

The reverse Wave starts normally with the man facing diagonal reverse and center (DRC) after an under-turned Reverse Turn or after a Curving Three Step, etc., whenever the man is prepared to step backward on his right foot (R). His first step is straight back, although there is a little shaping to the right. The important thing about this step is that the foot must move first and then the weight of the body is taken over the ball of the foot, lowering to the heel to prepare for step 2. On step 2, the L is taken back in a dragging action keeping strong contact with the floor on the heel while curving to the left. The continuation of this step is back on the toe while bringing the left side of the body backward and making sure the R heel remains in contact with the floor before rising to the toe of the L. The man remains on the toe and does not lower to take the third step. His step 3 is backward on the R to complete the figure, now facing RLOD for the normal amount of curve. The total turn is up to 1/4 left-face (LF), depending upon the alignment at the beginning of the wave, with the amount divided up between steps 2 and 3. This figure is sometimes characterized as the "thin line," which means that the feet are placed in a curving arc with no hooking behind as the left hip continuously rises to give the wave effect.

For the lady's part, she follows nearly what the man does in the Three Step, which means a vigorous and driving movement on her part. Her first step has a little shaping movement to the left with a strong heel lead. She lowers a little for the second step but retains heel contact with the floor for a longer step (the driving one) on her R. This second step is a heel-to-toe movement while starting a body rise. On step 3, she completes the LF curve to face LOD (normally) with a toe lead while rising to full body height, ready to lower to the heel for the next figure.

General Notes: The "wave" derives its name from the combination of curve and increasing sway as steps 2 & 3 develop. The look should accentuate a "down" appearance even though body rise is used. Timing is SQQ, which is sometimes varied, as advanced dancers take a little more time on step 2 to accentuate their body rise and get extra movement down LOD.

HEEL PULL: This sometimes follows the Reverse Wave and is not an "action" (as in pivoting action as opposed to pivot) as listed by Roundalab but a genuine figure. Step 1 is backward L for the man (slow) where he starts to turn RF with no sway. While this step is taken, the R heel is dragged backward using strong contact with the floor as the body rotates RF on the L heel. It is important to sway to the left without really raising the right hip at this point to facilitate the placement of the L foot parallel with the R and about 8" to the side. The rotation and placement of the L is on a slow count and must be done with the feet directly under the hip girdle, normally ending to face DLC in CP = 5/8 RF total turn. The man's footwork is summarized as follows: T/H, -, H, IE of foot, then IE of L; Note: The left sway will cause a natural use of the inside edge of L, and upper body turn may continue a little past DLC.

Ladies step forward on their R in line with the man and between his feet starting a RF turn while going from the heel to toe (slow). Step 2 is a long side step crossing in front of the man (not going around him) to end backing DLC. As she steps to the left, a right sway will develop that, like the man, does not allow her hip to rise (her left hip). Her footwork matches the man: H/T, -, T/H, then IE of T of R;

Timing for foxtrot is SS. In waltz, it is divided fairly well over the three counts but using a long 2-count to accent the sway. In quickstep, it is again SS, but the main difference is that the lady must divide up her turn into 1/4 and 1/8 because of the speed of this rhythm. Also, the man keeps his knees a little straighter and feet a little closer together than in waltz and foxtrot.

WEAVE (from Promenade -- waltz): The term "weave" is a generic one and we must be more specific. The common one in waltz and foxtrot is from semi-closed position (SCP) = Promenade in ballroom, hence the title and the one we will describe first using the waltz rhythm. It is taken for granted that the precedes ends with partners in compact SCP facing either LOD or often DLC. Both endings in BJO and SCP are phase IV figures.

The man uses a cross-body action on step 1, as he places his R foot forward and across while going from heel to toe and starting a LF turn. If started facing LOD, his R foot would now be pointing to nearly COH while his body is facing DLC (= contra BJO). He must keep moving his left side to help the lady to cross in front. The man brings the lady in line (to CP) on step 2 as he continues his LF turn and steps forward on his L toe to face COH. Step 3 is to the side and slightly back on his R going from toe to heel, now backing LOD. There is a slight hovering action here as if to regroup before continuing. Step 4 is the critical one because the man must bring the lady to contra BJO with only a slight LF turn. As he steps back on his L going from toe to heel, he thinks straight, letting the slight turn accommodate the lady's overturned foot position. As he steps back on his R for the fifth step, he will again bring the lady back in line, having completed the 1/8 LF turn to back toward DLC. This is also a shaping step which means that his body has started a LF turn. The last step is to the side and slightly forward, where he again blends back to contra BJO with body facing wall but L foot pointing DLW. The normal rise and fall is used -- commence on 1, continue on 2, up on 3, and then lower for a repeat on 4,5,6.

Ladies start across in front of the man with a fairly long step on their L starting a LF turn and blending to contra BJO. Step 2 is to the side and slightly back on the R, now backing DLC. On step 3, she remains in CP as she points her L to DLC but moves to the side and slightly forward with body facing LOD. Step 4 is only a slight turning one as she steps forward R into contra BJO, body now facing DLC. Steps 5 & 6 are opposite and complimentary to the man, going side and slightly back on the R, then back L to contra BJO. Her footwork is the same as the man except for step 4 which is H/T for her. Rise and fall is the same for both.

To end in SCP, we simply do an Outside Change, which we will describe next month. In ballroom, it would be an Open Change because it ends in SCP. In any event, the Weave should have a long 2 and 5 count to help in repositioning from an underturned to overturned movement. This is not a hovering action but more like a suspension in the partnership. We like to count this as 1,2 ah 3; 4,5 ah 6;

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, October 2010.


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