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Round Dance Tips by Tim Eum —

A Few Turns

2 Right Turns (Waltz Phase II) --

While some dances can have just one right turn, most often when you do right turns you do two in a row. Usually, a Maneuver Side Close immediately precedes the 2 Right Turns and so you usually begin the 2 Right Turns facing RLOD in Closed Position with lead foot free (man's left and lady's right). Start the 2 Right Turns with the man stepping back (lady forward) with lead foot and as you take weight turn on your toe right face and turn enough to face at least COH and perhaps even DLC. Then do a Side and Close on your second and third steps. This completes the first Right Turn and you should be in CP facing DLC having turned right face 3/8 (assuming you started facing RLOD). If you really are in CP then you can start the second right turn with the man stepping forward with his trail foot (right) directly into his partner between her feet. Then just as you did for the first Right Turn, turn 3/8 right face on your toe as you take weight onto it, ending with man facing the wall. Finish by doing a Side and Close on the fifth and sixth steps in CP facing wall. Note that the first step is mostly straight back -- it is a common error to instead step sideways to man's left in the mistaken idea that you should turn by stepping around the lady instead of turning on the toe. Another common error is to omit doing the Side and Close on the second and third steps -- for some reason once a dancer starts turning there is a desire to keep turning instead of "pausing" for a side and close. One last tip -- stay in closed position for the entire six steps of the " Right Turns."If you can stay in closed position as you do all six steps, you and your partner will be able to turn together as a single unit, which is a very pleasing thing to do.

Feather (Foxtrot Phase IV) --

Although it can be used in waltz, quickstep, and other rhythms, the Feather is mostly used in foxtrots. The Feather always starts with trail foot free (man’s right and lady’s left). For the man, a Feather is simply a Forward and Run 2 to BJO. The timing is the normal foxtrot slow-quick-quick (SQQ). If the couple starts in closed position (CP), then it is a Back & Run 2 to BJO for the lady. If the couple starts in semi-closed position (SCP), the lady will step forward (i.e., thru) and as she takes weight she turns on her toe left face toward the man. The lady should have turned enough on the first step that taking the second step in the same direction is now “side and back.” As the lady takes her third and last step (a cross in back step) she completes her left turn to end in BJO. Here are some styling tips: (1) Take a long first step with relaxed knees (thus staying low) contacting the floor first with your heel. (2) On the second step rise onto ball of foot while keeping body moving forward. (3) Glide down into the third step. (4) Remember in proper Banjo (BJO) the lady should be in front of man’s right hip – not beside or behind it. (5) Remember that in a good BJO the shoulders are not “square” facing LOD but are “angled” with left side leading (i.e., man’s upper body is turned toward partner and wall) (6) Maintain good upper-body frame throughout the figure – it will help the lady end in a good BJO position. (7) The lady should move smoothly and gradually to BJO throughout the figure – that’s why it’s called “feather.” One last note: there are several Feather figures in round dancing: Feather, Feather Finish, Curved Feather, Back Feather, Left Feather, Telefeather. One common feature is that all Feathers end in banjo with lead foot free.

Double Reverse Spin (Waltz Phase V) --

The Double Reverse is a common figure done in advanced waltzes. The name is a little misleading because there is nothing that you do twice in the figure. The name comes from the idea that in this one measure figure you turn just as much as the full reverse turn (which takes two measures) -- thus you are doing double the amount of turn of just one measure of a regular reverse turn. For many dancers, the amount of turn in the Double Reverse is a problem. In their various ways to try and get around, feet get stepped on, balance is lost, and smoothness fumbled. Here are some tips to do a smooth Double Reverse.

The first step of the Double Reverse is exactly the same as the first step of a normal Reverse Turn -- the man steps forward with his lead foot and begins turning his body frame left face (i.e., contra body movement) while the lady steps back. Since this is waltz, this first step is done in a "lowered" manner, which means that the knees are slightly bent and the step is a little longer than most. The second step is a key step -- the man must continue turning his body as he takes his second step forward and side slightly past the lady and rapidly rises up onto the toe of his right foot. This combination of turning and rising will lead the lady to rotate in place on her right heel and then rise with the man after bringing her feet together onto her left toe. The lady's second step is called a Heel Turn. Now the most difficult part for the man -- he takes no more steps -- he must simply rotate on his right toe for the rest of the figure and he still has almost a half turn left to do. It takes practice for the man to turn this much and still maintain balance. The lady's last steps of the Double Reverse are also challenging. She has one more beat to do two steps -- a side and then a cross in front (XIF). Thus, in the Double Reverse, the man takes two weight changes (12-) while the lady takes four (123&).

Note that this figure begins, continues, and ends in closed position -- stay in closed position for the whole figure -- nothing should change the relative body position of the man to the lady at any time during the figure. A common problem is that during the second step (heel turn for lady) the couple does not maintain closed position and commonly goes to SCP. This means that the man has either turned too fast too far on the second step and left his partner behind or that the lady has underturned. When this happens, the lady tends to try to step forward on her third step (instead of side) to get around the man. By the end of the second step the lady should already have risen onto her left toe and rotated with the man so that her third step can go side -- in front of the man. The lady's fourth step should happen almost automatically -- the lady simply keeps turning her body left face to finish the Double Reverse, and this action will allow her left foot to cross easily in front of her right foot and thus quickly putting her left foot down taking weight will complete the figure.

Note that I am recommending that the four steps be synocopated as 1, 2, 3&. You can dance it instead with timing of 1, 2&,3 – but this means that the lady must do her heel turn in half a beat while my recommendation allows her a full beat to do the heel turn, which I think is smoother.

Here is another way to look at the Double Reverse. First try dancing a Telemark to Banjo. The first two steps of the Telemark to Banjo (i.e. Closed Telemark) are the same as the Double Reverse. Note that the lady must continue turning on her second step to end facing her partner in closed position with momentum continuing to turn into the third step. Many ladies instead do the first two steps of the Double Reverse like a Telemark to SCP, instead of to CP or BJO, and thus take a incorrect “forward” step on step three of the Double Reverse.

A second tip is to master dancing the Slow Side Lock or even the Rising Lock. The last two steps of both of these are the same as the last two steps of the Double Reverse for the lady. Note that these two steps for the lady are not a mere “side” and “XIF” (cross in front). Rather the lady turns left face with the man (maintaining closed position throughout), which requires a small quick side step with her right foot followed by a “twisting action,” which draws her left foot in front of her right. Quickly taking weight onto the left foot (i.e. a lock in front step) finishes these figures.

Tim Eum has prepared many Round Dance Tips for Calls 'n' Cues, WASCA, for his weekly Rocket Rounds e-mail reports, and for other publications. This set was reprinted  in the Dixie Round Dance Council Newsletter, December 2014/January 2015. Visit for a DRDC Eum archive.


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