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Lead That Hockey Stick

by Harold & Meredith Sears

Have some of the common round dance figures become so familiar that we walk through them in a mechanical and almost thoughtless way? The cue is familiar. We know exactly where to go. It’s more like walking to the kitchen for that morning cup of coffee than it is like dancing. We can reclaim some of the fun in well-known figures if we think beyond the steps and focus on connecting with our partner. 

For instance, we might begin a Rumba Hockey Stick in fan position with the lead hands joined. The man steps forward on his left foot and, with a little pressure through toned lead arms, leads the woman to close on her right. Right away, you feel a connection with your partner and some communication. He recovers on his right foot, she steps forward left, he closes his left, and she steps forward right to a position in front of him; she facing reverse and he shaping toward the woman and so facing toward diagonal wall. 

Here, at the end of the first measure, we have a fun point of connection. Ladies, don’t go past your partner’s shirt buttons. And men, don’t let her get past you. Begin to raise your lead hands as she approaches. This will draw her attention to you. Don’t thoughtlessly make that third step a back step—stay close. You might even gently touch the front of her right hip with your trail fingertips as you turn slightly toward her. In a “mechanical” Hockey Stick, you might be facing the wall and looking at the back of her right ear, and she might have walked past you and been looking toward reverse line of dance. Is she maybe looking for someone else to dance with? But if you are connected through lead and follow, then you are close, touching, and looking into her eyes. Careful—don’t be distracted from the dance. 

Now, continuing to raise lead hands, on the first “quick” of the second measure, the man takes a small step back on his right foot, and she steps forward left, finally passing his shirt buttons. He recovers on his left foot, and she steps forward right with a sharp left-face turn under lead arms to face the man. She steps side and back toward diagonal reverse and wall, and he steps forward to follow her. Her progression toward reverse and then backing toward diagonal reverse and wall traces out the shape of an ice hockey stick, and the man can provide two different leads to make this a partnership effort. He can move the lead hands between partners and in the direction of diagonal reverse, and he can use his body shaping to guide her. The line of his upper body along the diagonal directs her progression along that diagonal. 

If you communicate through tone in the lead arms and if you shape toward your partner and act as though you are aware of (and glad to be with) your partner, then you can take a familiar, ho-hum figure and make it dance.

This article was published in the Colorado Round Dance Association (CRDA) Round Notes, June/July, 2007; excerpted in the Dallas Harvest Holiday July  2007; and reprinted in the Washington Area Square Dancers Cooperative Association (WASCA) Calls 'n' Cues, December 2007; and the Dixie Round Dance Council (DRDC) Newsletter, September 2008.


If you would like to read other articles on dance position, technique, styling, and specific dance rhythms, you may visit the article TOC.

If you are not a member of DRDC, do consider joining. The group sponsors triquarterly weekends with great dancing and teaching, and the newsletter is one of the most informative available.

Past DRDC Educational Articles archived here.

Aditional articles and dance helps by
Sandi & Dan Finch
Richard Lamberty
Gert-Jan & Susie Rotscheid (see Notebook)

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Page last revised 12/22/09