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The Look Alikes

by Roy & Phyllis Stier
August, 1988

It seems that some figures can be easily confused, either as named actions or as cued terms. Let's look at several of these to see if clarification is in order. 

Rope Spinning: This figure is used in rumba or cha cha as an action where the lady starts nearly always from a spiraling action right-face or with an Alemana Turn to circle around the back of the man to his left side, then on to face. The man usually shapes to accommodate this movement by holding in a sort of paso doble configuration. If the same action is initiated from a facing position without the preliminary right-face turn, it is called a Lariat. This truncated version has some variations also. The man can bring the lady around and then hook her elbow to back up in a wheeling action, or she may circle around him from his left side to his right side. 

In fox trot there is some confusion about the common feathers, as to their separation from a configuration standpoint. If we start in closed position and step outside partner to contra body (banjo) on step 3, this is properly called a Feather Step. If this same ending position is completed in the 3 steps starting from semi-closed position it is known as a Feather Ending. Lastly, if the first step of the 3 is backward for the man (back, -, side, feather) it is a Feather Finish. Several figures such as the Weave 6, steps 4, 5, 6 of the Reverse Turn, etc., have the Feather Finish built in. 

The Curved Feather Check and the Hairpin are used interchangeably and are both considered correct at this point in time. The Hairpin was originally a 4-step figure in waltz (1, 2/&, 3), while the Curved Feather was strictly a fox trot figure; however, the action of the latter is the same in waltz (3 steps with only a timing difference) so we consider either as correct. 

In spite of some folks' usage, the Reverse Wave is confined to fox trot. The actual "wave" is a 3-step movement with passing steps, which curve up to 1/4 left-face as the man backs up right, -, left, right. The same action as used in waltz is called a Backward Passing Change. The generic version does not curve but common usage has employed it more like a Reverse Wave. 

Battle lines are drawn between round dance factions as to how we should handle the right and left turns in waltz and fox trot. The cue Reverse Turn could mean a heel turn for the lady (fox trot) or a pointing step (waltz). The solution seems to be the use of "Reverse Turn" or "Natural Turn" in fox trot and keep the traditional right and left for waltz. At present Roundalab is proposing this as a standardization. 

Finally, still unresolved is the cuer's dilemma of how to clarify the box step — does the man step forward first or sideward? Does the cue "Box Step" differentiate between the two step or the waltz and fox trot? For a positive disposition, write your congressman.

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, May 2009.


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