Two Step Can Go Beyond Country to Elegant
by Annette Woodruff
I am a great defender of the Two Step.
I believe that it is a rhythm that has its place not only in Round
Dancing but also in Choreographed Ballroom Dancing.
It is unfortunately a very much
underestimated rhythm, the main reason being that it has been used,
traditionally, as an entry-level rhythm into round dancing (for
square dancers, mainly) and this has led the whole community to look
at it as the typical "beginners only" rhythm. This image
was implicitly endorsed by Roundalab when they placed (practically)
the whole rhythm in Phases I & II.
Choreographers did nothing to
this concept, as they mostly wrote two-step routines intended for
introductory classes or for the first year after these beginning
classes, or with "rounds between square dance tips" in
mind. The music often selected for two-step dances also helped to
reinforce the lowly image of the rhythm: country songs, instrumentals
played thinly by small bands, unsubtle boom-boom support,
un-contrasted arrangements, etc.---in other words not ballroom music.
The two step can be so much more
this. A quick look at the past shows that it has had its nobility
days, in dances that were so appreciated that many of them became
Golden Classics. They can be divided in several categories:
The "false Phase II's", using
only two-step figures: Roses for Elizabeth, Kontiki, Lisbon Antiqua,
Maria, Moon Over Naples, Patricia, Spaghetti Rag, That Happy Feeling,
Third Man Theme. These are NOT rounds for beginners but rounds that
were written to fit a particular piece of music and no other.
At phase III, the two-step
rhythm was mostly used in Mixed Rhythm dances like Apres l'Etreinte
(this is how you should spell it), Autumn Leaves, In the Arms of Love,
Elaine, Pop Goes to the Movies, Hold Me.
At phase IV, two-step figures
are used in dances like Don't Cry for me Argentina and Hooked on Swing.
There is even a phase V+2 that uses two-step figures: the remarkable
Hawaiian Wedding Song, and Gordon Moss's evergreen Till (phase VI?).
No, I am not advocating that we
go back to writing dances that way, but I am saying that by using
very good music and thinking out of the box, as we put dances
together, we can produce interesting routines that are very pleasant
to dance, and not designed only for the beginners' level. Some of our
famous choreographers have shown us the way by making an interesting
use of two-step figures: I'm thinking, for instance, of the Rumbles'
phase V+1 quickstep It Don't Mean a Thing (hardest figure to teach =
Back Hitch 3, said Ron jokingly) or, of course, the Worlocks' dance
Shout (single swing/two-step, phase VI).
We need more two-step dances that
depart from from the "2 Fwd Two Steps--Open Vine 4--2 Turning
Two Steps--Twirl 2 & Walk 2" tired pattern.
I do not have much hope that the
two-step image will suddenly improve, but in the long run . . . who
knows? . . . it might help our community to see a spark in the middle
of the general brain-washing and to understand that everything that
is good in round dancing does not have to come from ballroom.
essay was adapted from a post by Annette Woodruff to
the Weavers discussion group and was published
in the Dixie Round Dance Council (DRDC) Newsletter, July 2010