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The Telemark Figures II

by Roy & Phyllis Stier
December, 1988

Continued from last time — 

DOUBLE OPEN TELEMARK: Although this figure appears in phase VI, it is appropriate that we describe it with the family of Telemarks. The first three steps are identical with ending #3 as described last month under Open Telemark, where the man steps slightly back on his third step. To complete the Double Open Telemark requires four more steps in syncopated rhythm, which will invariably end with the man facing line and wall. The man must give the lady a strong body rotation at the end of the first three steps as he steps forward on his right while she starts around left-face, somewhat like a Wing lead. After this, the man has a normal Open Telemark movement but the lady will substitute a toe turn (with heels close together) for the normal heel turn on step 6. The speed of the second left-face turn makes this necessary. 

Timing on this figure is one of varied usage. Round dancers will feel most comfortable with sq&q on the last four steps, however, q&qs can be used if you want a better controlled ending. In waltz time, this translates to 12&3 for standard with 1&23 as a more advanced method. The pros often use an "and" count on the man's right foot lead (step 4) and then slow down the sixth step to get a picture ending. In fox trot, the first part is taken sqq and the second with a slow on step 4 or with a quicker step to accelerate the rotation and then slow down for the ending. It is not used in quickstep normally but could be taken as ssssqqs. 

NATURAL TELEMARK: As the name suggests, this is a right-turning figure but not a mirror image of the Closed Telemark — it is listed under phase V. Normally facing DLW in closed position, the man steps forward on his right while shaping in the same direction and going from heel to toe. He will make a 1/4 right-face turn to end facing DRW on step 2 using a fairly wide left foot lead where he attains full body height using a right sway. On step 3, he must concentrate on a small side step (right) while turning to face DLC where he literally stops the lady's movement to start her in reverse. Ballroom people invariably use a Hover Feather ending in fox trot, but round dancers consider the figure to end here, and in waltz it serves as a checking motion as the lady is brought to sidecar position for a cross body check, hover cross, etc. 

The lady steps back on her left starting her right-face turn. Step 2 for her is the normal heel turn, where she drags her right heel back and pivots right-face, while transferring weight forward onto her right toe. At this point, she is facing LOD, having overturned the man somewhat and getting a little hovering action. Her third step is to the side where she turns an additional 3/8 right-face while brushing right to left. 

In fox trot where the figure is normally used, the timing is sqq, but in waltz we again use a long 2 count. Quickstep is the normal sss. If the figure starts facing LOD, we overturn step 2 to gain the extra 1/8. A softening of the man's knee (using a wider step) will lead the lady into a backward step on her third and can end either in closed position or in sidecar. 

HOVER TELEMARK: (phase IV) In waltz, the figure starts from closed position DLW, or sometimes facing DLC. In fox trot, it normally stars after a Feather Finish (sqq). The first step for the man is forward left with a strong heel lead starting to rise to the ball of the foot while shaping the body in the same direction (left foot). The second step is to the side and somewhat diagonal on the toe of the right, continuing the left-face turn (ca. 1/8) with an "almost brush" action using the inside edge of the left toe while allowing the left knee to veer inward. The man will stretch his right side on this step to develop a left sway. Step 3 is left to the side and slightly forward with body facing LOD if started from DLW (COH if started from DLC), however, the foot placement is 1/8 more to the left (DLC or DRC), lowering to the heel at the end of step 3. The body rotation to the left catches up with the foot placement on the next step. The generic figure is usually described in the fox trot rhythm and ends in closed position, but round dancers usually blend to a tight semi-closed on step 3, particularly in waltz. 

The lady's part is opposite that of the man except that she matches the toe of her left and the inside edge of her right on step 2, and keeps her body in alignment with her right foot as she steps side and slightly back on step 3 (also using the normal toe/heel placement). If the ending is to be in the compact semi-closed position, she will turn only 1/8 left-face over steps 2 and 3 while opening her head slowly with a slight rolling action. 

In waltz, the long 2 count is used to good advantage, and there is a strong body poise forward when blending to semi-closed position. Some choreographers utilize this figure to turn from closed position DLW to semi-closed facing LOD by making a small right-face turn on the second, or hovering step, to get an alignment leading to a right turning figure. This is still a Hover Telemark technically because of the left foot lead for the man. 

NATURAL HOVER TELEMARK: (not listed in phase ratings) This figure is not used in waltz (we use a Hesitation Change instead) so we will describe the foxtrot footwork and timing. Normal starting position is in closed position DLW starting with the man's right heel lead with the shaping action to the right (= CBM) as he starts a right-face turn while rising to the ball of the foot. Step 2 is left to the side on the toe continuing the right-face turn, then lowering to the heel to get "into the floor" for what follows. Step 3 is right to the side with a heel pull to face DLC — total turn about 3/4 right-face. Note: The heel pull in this figure is unnatural and can only be accomplished by slipping the left or overturning for better alignment. The right is pulled back with a strong floor pressure and left sway while turning ca. 1/8 right-face to end in closed position with the left as close to the right as is comfortable while lifting the right side (= left sway). 

The lady steps back left starting a right-face turn on her toe but lowering to heel in order to help the turning motion. Step 2 is a closing of her right to left for a standard heel turn, where she turns more than the man on his second step with only body rise. Step 3 is to the side (still down but starting to rise to the ball of the foot) and using a right sway. The timing is sqq but we usually make the first quick a little longer than normal. The left sway (right for the lady) on step 3 does not occur in the Natural Telemark. 

The last of the Telemark series would be the Telespin, however, it will best fit in later on. We will continue next month with the basic figures found in phase III, using a continuation to extend the family, if needed. 

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, February 2010.


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