Understanding the Similarities and Differences in Phase III/IV Waltz
Kristine & Bruce Nelson
one of Round Dancing’s core rhythms, is also one of the most
popular! What should we know, as dancers and as instructors, to
increase our knowledge and enjoyment of this beautiful, flowing
is waltz no matter the level of difficulty.
is 3/4. Waltz is danced with rhythmic
rise and fall, with the low point being through count 1, commence
rise at the end of 1, continue rise through count 2, complete rise to
the highest point on count 3, and lower at the end of count 3.
Normally there are 3 steps to a measure of music but various
syncopated timings may be used. In Phase II there are no
syncopations. In Phase III there are syncopations in the Chasse and
Lock figures. In Phase IV more syncopation is used with varied
dance positions Closed, Semi-Closed, Banjo, and Sidecar are the same
for all phases for all the smooth rhythms. To effectively and
comfortably dance, waltz dancers need to develop and use a strong
dance frame. In in beginning (Phase II), the correct body positions
are (or should
taught and practiced. Note that the need for a stable and reliable
dance frame, that enables the dancers to move with ease and comfort,
increases as the difficulty level of figures is raised.
directions of WALL, LOD, COH, and RLOD are used at all phases. The
diagonal directions DLW, DLC, DRC, and DRW are introduced in Phase
III and commonly utilized at Phase IV (& up). And couples still
dance forward, backward, turn left, and turn right, no matter the
Phase III certain concepts are (or should
introduced that will be even more important to dancing figures at
Phase IV (& up) including: contra body movement (CBM), passing
footwork, heel turns, and overturned rotations, etc.
first difference between the phases is to understand that there are
actually more than double the number of figures at Phase IV (42) than
Phase III (20). These figures are more complex than Phase III,
requiring more understanding of how our bodies work to perform them
comfortably. We do not need to stress or scare the dancers with
these figures; but as teachers we need to understand what we (and
they) are getting into.
IV figures --
have passing footwork
utilize larger (bigger) rotations – involving more degree of turn
have more complex bodywork and footwork and foot placement
we know that dancers can probably get away with dancing Phase II or
III figures without a lot of body turn or body sway. It is quite
difficult to dance Phase IV figures (& up) without appropriate
CBM and sway.
comfortably dance Phase IV there is considerably more use of the
body. Dancers must:
their focus from “foot” dancing to “body” dancing
how to use CBM in linear and rotational figures
how to use Sway
more control to sustain movement which is more subtle, requiring finesse
their body in good relationship to their partner
techniques and sensitivity to facilitate lead and follow
may refer to dance technique as “styling” and not be favorable to
the idea. It is important to understand that this is not styling, it
is simply “mechanics” or learning how our bodies work to perform
dance movements with ease and comfort, generating a most satisfying
feeling of accomplishment!
waltz is the loveliest blossom of our ballroom. It is perhaps the
most satisfactory dance ever achieved by man."
Lloyd Shaw, 1949
clinic notes prepared for the ROUNDALAB Convention, 2012.
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