by Harold & Meredith Sears
A whirligig is an object that spins or
whirls -- they are also known as pinwheels, buzzers, comic weather
vanes, gee-haws, spinners, whirlygigs, whirlijigs, whirlyjigs,
whirlybirds, or just plain whirlies. Whirligigs are most commonly
powered by the wind (Wikipedia) -- see some examples on YouTube. A Whirligig is also a
tango figure composed of two twist turns -- first the man twists and
then the lady.
In semi-closed position (SCP) facing
line of dance (LOD) step forward L (W fwd R), forward & across R,
turning right-face step side L to face DRW (W fwd R between the man's
feet). This first measure is danced SQQ and we end in SCP RLOD, trail
In the second measure, the man whirls
-- I mean, he twist turns. He crosses R in back of L (W bk L). He
twists on both feet 1⁄2 right-face to end with feet almost
together, weight on L, facing DLW. The lady makes this happen by
walking backward around the man unwinding him: bk R, bk L, bk R, for
a total of 4 backing steps. Because of the tight turn, the last step
for the lady is really a cross behind, leaving her L free and crossed
in front of her R. The timing of this second measure is QQQQ for the
lady. The man is really equally weighted, but you can think of
shifting to the R and then back to the L again, SS. We are in SCP
DLW, trail feet free.
In the third measure, the lady has
crossed feet and is ready for her twist turn. Staying close to the
lady so he doesn't pull her off balance, the man walks forward around
her: fwd R (W unwinds), fwd L, fwd R unwinding the lady to end
approximately in SCP DLC with lead feet free. On the last beat, we
sharply swivel RF on the trail foot and tap L (W tap R) to SCP LOD.
The timing here is QQQQ, but we only have three weight changes. The
last Q is the swivel and tap, leaving lead feet free.
Standard timing for the Whirligig is
SQQ; QQQQ; QQQQ. It is a fast, rushing figure, but it begins with
that slow count, allowing you to take a breath before you dive in.
The Quick Whirligig is a variation that has the timing QQQQ;
QQQQ; QQS. The steps are the same, but we start with a "quick"
and end doing our tap on a slow count. Here, we dive right in and
take the little breather at the end.
It is interesting to find one use of the Whirligig in a waltz (Moon River by Doi). It uses ten weight changes as does the tango version, but it starts and ends with the trail feet free (and it has no tap). The timing is 123; 123; 12&3. In a nutshell, we begin in SCP LOD. We step thru R (W thru L), trng RF sd L to fc DRW (W fwd R between man's feet), XRIB of L to fc DRC (W bk L in SCP); comm twist 1/2 RF on both feet (W walk around M bk R), cont trn (W bk L), cont trn and shift wgt to L (W bk R); walk arnd W fwd R, L/R, sd & fwd L to SCP (W XLIF of R, twist on ball of both feet/cont trng shift wgt to L, sd & fwd R) end SCP LOD, trail feet free.
This article was published in the Dixie Round Dance Council (DRDC) Newsletter, October, 2011.