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4 beats/measure; 20 - 60 meas/min

Every now and then, our cuer will announce that the next dance will be a "rhythm" dance. What rhythm is a "rhythm" dance? Is it foxtrot, or cha, or jive, or … ? A "rhythm" dance can be all that and more; the term is short for "mixed rhythm," so such a dance is something of a patchwork quilt, and the tempo can vary a great deal.

If you would like to listen to some samples of classic, rhythm, round dances, here are clips from Autumn Leaves by Moss, cued by Chris Cantrell; and Hawaiian Wedding Song by Lovelace, uncued, and Hawaiian Wedding Song, cued by John Grooms.

Some Mixed Rhythm Dances —

(Remember, in the abbreviated descriptions, a comma separates two beats, a semi-colon marks the end of a measure, and a slash (/) indicates a split beat, two things occuring in a single beat of music.)

In Freestyle, You Could Try —

Full cue sheets for these dances are readily available (see links page), but I'll describe some of the nicest sequences here.

Sometimes the patches in these quilts are large and clearly defined. In 1988, a dance came out called Pop Goes the Movies by Jack and Muriel Raye. The music is not a single song but a medley of three songs: a two-step, a foxtrot, and a rumba. The introduction, with its slow twirl vine 4, and the ending, with its walk two and slow twist vine 4, might best be thought of as one-step segments, but still, the pieces of this mixed patchwork are clear and discrete. As you dance, you know very well what rhythm you are dancing. The problem is making that transition from one rhythm to the next. Just a little extra practice will do it. Here, we are dancing the "slow, -, quick, quick; of foxtrot, and now we have to launch into the quick, quick, slow, -; of rumba. As our cuer so often says, "The music tells you what to do."

(34 meas/min)

The two-step sequence is unusual: two forward two-steps;; in butterfly slowly lunge down line on lead, -, recover, -; turn toward reverse and lunge through to reverse on lead, -, recover onto trail and butterfly wall, -; two forward two-steps down line;; lunge down line on lead, -, twist hips down line, -; cross trail foot behind, side, step through, -; two forward two-steps;; slow twist vine 4 to banjo;; whaletail;;

A little different is Woodchoppers' Ball by Richard and Jo Anne Lawson (1986). The music is a single piece, not a medley, but the Lawsons wrote part A as a quickstep, part B as a two-step, and part C as a single-swing jive. The whole dance flows beautifully, both within and between parts. I love this dance.

(48 meas/min)

The quickstep part is a nice, self contained sequence: quarter turns and progressive chasse;;;; fwd, lock, fwd, -; maneuver, -, side, cl; pivot two; dip back, -, recover, -; walk, -, check, -; cross behind, -, side, -; fwd, lock, fwd, lock; walk, -, face wall, -; In the dance, this part A is followed by either the two-step or the single-swing section, but if you wanted to simply repeat this quickstep sequence, you could end it with a walk two to face line instead of wall, and you're ready for the quarter turns again.

The single-swing section (part C) is wonderful, too (remember that single-swing is danced quick, quick, slow, -; slow, -, over 1 1/2 measures for most figures): Single Lindy Basic which is just a side, touch, side, -; Change Places Right to Left, and Left to Right;;; Change Hands Behind the Back, and Change Places Left to Right to face wall;;; rock apt recover to the Basic, Fallaway Throwaway;;; rock apt, -, rec, -; and repeat sequence;;;;;;;;;;;;

Many of the "rhythm" dances came out of the "old days," before there were defined figures or even cuers in round dancing. The writers choreographed their dances, step by step, and indeed, the music told them exactly what to write: a two-step sequence here and a foxtrot sequence there. In 1962, Paul and Laura Merola wrote Dance to a popular song from the singer, Helen Reddy. Part B is pretty much one-step, and part C is jive, but part A is a quick flow of one-step, two-step, foxtrot, and even tango.

(34 measures/min)

Walk 2; two-step progressive box;; two left face foxtrot turns to wall;; half box; weave six to semi;; thru, -, lunge down line checking, -; reverse twirl 2 to wall,, side, -; draw lead to trail, -, gaucho turn 4 LF to face center slow step back;; bk, -, sd, cl; sd, -, maneuver to face line, -; slow spot pivot 4 to line;;
Apres L'Entreinte or After the Lovin', by Hank and Mary Dahl is pretty much step cued, with few standard figures, but it is mostly one-step, two-step, and five-count. It flows and feels so good.

(20 measures/minute)

Notice that this piece is so slow that each cued two-step is only half a measure: fwd/cl, fwd. In a "real" two-step, a two-step figure takes a full measure: fwd, cl, fwd, -;

It's all good, but let's start part way through C the second time, slow and easy, in open position: step apart, swing (an easy kick), roll across in 2 to left open; step, swing, roll back in 2 to open position; two-step down line and fwd/fan, and touch to butterfly; again; sd, cl, side two-step; reverse twirl and a two-step to closed position line; dip back, -, recover, -; dip, rec, walk 2;

Strolling vine 1/2 to face center; twist 2 to banjo reverse and a back two-step to closed reverse; strolling vine 1/2 to face wall; twist 2 to banjo line and back two-step to closed line; repeat;;;;

Walk 3 and touch; reverse twirl to face wall and step side and draw; step apart, point, together, touch; with no hands touching step side and sway left, -, step side and sway right, -; scissors thru to left open checking; recover, side, thru to butterfly wall, -; lunge down line on lead and slowly twist RF to face reverse; or as Bill Buck cues it: "Lunge and slowly roll it over to reverse and sugar time."

Oh my.

Hooked On Swing was by Rod & Kathy Windhorst. Parts A & D are single swing & one-step; B & E are one-step; C is two-step & quickstep; F is five-count & one-step.

(44 measures/minute)

I think I like part C the best: two turning two-steps to face line;; two forward two-steps;; step, hop, step, hop; fwd, lock, fwd, -; maneuver, -, side, close; pivot two; and repeat;;;;;;;;
That Happy Feeling is a samba, one-step, two-step, by Charlie & Gertrude Tennent.

(52 meas/min)

YouTube Video

The introduction consists of LF samba turns: samba fwd; samba back and turn 1/4; and repeat for a full turn over 8 measures.

Part A is really the unusual one-step/two-step sequence: In butterfly wall, you step side with a big step, lowering, and then reach through with trail feet with good body sway to reverse; two-step down line; reach through, two-step, reach through;; four turning two-steps;;;; lace across and back;;;; open vine four;; two turning two-steps;; and repeat;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;

My Love is a one-step, two-step, quickstep classic by Charlie & Bettye Procter.

(42 meas/min)

Part A is a slow, smooth, romantic walk: fwd, -, fwd, -; turn LF 1/4, -, close and turn Lf 1/4 to face reverse; back, -, back, -; pivot two RF; twisty vine four;; pivot two RF again to face line; dip, -, recover, -; repeat;;;;;;;;
Till (1976), by Gordon & Betty Moss, contains a tango draw, some Viennese turns, and some two-step-like chasses and lock steps, but the overall rhythm of the dance is simply unique. The music is 4/4, and one can recognize two distinctive patterns that are repeated in the dance.

In part 1, we begin with a sequence that is danced slow, -, slow, -; quick, quick/and, quick, hold/and; That is, we take two steps in the first measure and five steps in the second, the fourth step being held in a hovering action and the fifth step being taken quickly on the last "and" in the measure. This unusual sequence is repeated in part 1, once curving to the right and again curving to the left, and we end part 1 with a pivoting and weaving slow, -, slow, -; and 12 quicks;;; What can you call such timing, other than "rhythm?"

In part 2, we find the second distinctive pattern that is used repeatedly in the dance: slow, -, quick, quick; quick, quick/and, quick, hold/and; Notice that the second measure of this sequence is the same quirky syncopation as that seen in part 1. Memorizing these two timing patterns is the key to dancing parts 1 & 2 successfully, because every cuer cues the dance differently, and you just can't process non-standard step cues fast enough to dance this to cues. And while you're at it, memorize the whole dance and simply dance this one to the music. It feels wonderful.

(24 meas/min)

I'm not sure that anyone would want to dance any of this to any music other than Till, but part 3 (there are 4 parts total) contains the most straightforward choreography. You start in sidecar, facing line of dance, lead feet free. Step forward down line, fwd, cross pivot one to sidecar facing reverse, step back; turn to face and draw the lead foot in, and do a twisty vine 5 to banjo facing line; There are five piano notes here, telling you when to step out the vine. With other music, you might time this second measure as turn, draw/side L, XIF/side, XIB/side to banjo;

Now, repeat this sequence beginning in banjo facing line of dance, trail feet free: 1, 2, 3, 4; hold, -/&, 3/&, 4/&; to sidecar.

And repeat again from sidecar to banjo;; The steady pace of the first measure in each of these pairs and the brief hovering draw at the beginning of the second makes the quick vine five quite a contrast. You feel floating and twinkly.

At this point, if I were dancing freestyle, I would probably get back to some standard figures with a maneuver; spin turn; and so on.

Nadia's Theme (1977), by Bill & Carol Goss, has a slow steady rhythm, but they use quick chasses and locks to speed up the footwork. The music marches, but the dance floats.

(20 meas/min)

In part A, we step forward, face the wall, chasse to semi; step thru, chasse maneuver; pivot 4 to semi; lunge forward and recover draw to closed wall; twist two chasse to bjo; rock recover chasse sidecar reverse; rock recover chasse four to semi; fwd, maneuver, pivot two to closed line; repeat;;;;;;;;
The Homecoming was also released in 1977 by Charlie & Nina Ward. It is one-step and two-step, but not really. Like many of the old "rhythm" dances, it is step-cued to fit the music wonderfully.

(24 meas/min)

Part B flows well and feels good. In closed position facing wall, step side, draw touch, rock back, recover; step side, draw touch, rock fwd, rec; walk, maneuver, pivot two to face the wall; step side, draw touch, rock back, recover; step side, draw touch, rock fwd, rec; walk, maneuver, pivot two to closed position facing line; progressive scissors twice;; This section is all one-step except the two-step scissors, but each "draw-touch" gives a wonderful floating or hovering feeling.
Hawaiian Wedding Song was released in 1979 by Charlie & Madeline Lovelace. The music has 6/8 timing (and thanks to Marty Hapeman for pointing that out to me). I can hear the timing quite clearly in the introduction, but once the vocalist gets going, I really can't hear it. He doesn't seem to be singing on the measure or even on the beat. However, many of the steps are danced as slows (3 beats each) and so feel like one-step: walk, walk, walk . . . Some figures are danced slow, -, -, quick, -, &; and feel like foxtrot. And some measures are danced quick, -, &, slow, -, -; and feel like two-step. The hover cross endings are danced &, quick, -, &, slow, -, -; (1 & 1/6 measures) and so have a very syncopated feel. The whole thing is wonderfully diverse.

(32 meas/min)

Part B begins in closed position, diagonal line and wall with a scissors to scar (qqs or slow a-slow); scissors she hitch he hook in front to a sort of semi line and center; woman unwind man in a slow four to bjo reverse and center;; outside spin; back lock back; impetus to semi line; thru face close to closed wall; slow vine 3 to a slow natural hover cross with sync ending to face line;;;; slow left twisty vine 3 to a slow natural hover cross with sync ending to line and wall;;;; and repeat;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;
Lisbon Antiqua is from 1980 and was written by Charlie & Dorothy DeMaine. It's a slow one-step, with some two-step and quickstep, I suppose.

(42 meas/min)

The introduction is a quick step side R and a slow draw in three and touch in closed position line; then part A begins with a walk 2; run 3 (qqs); walk 2; run 3; twist vine 4;; pivot 2 RF to face wall; slow hover and step thru;; side two-step; slow back hover and cross behind;; side two-step to reverse; fwd and pick up; repeat;;;;;;;;;;;;;; walk 2;

Only Time by Nana & Tim Eum is a rhythm dance that was choreographed "just yesterday" (2002). Many of the figures seem to be standard five-count, fox-trot, and even samba, but the music is so slow and haunting, that it feels maybe more non-standard than it is. I love it, and I want to do it better than I do. So, we should go practice some more, right?

(24 measures/minute)

You need the music for this. I don't think just any old slow music will do, but here is part A: strolling vine with inside roll to face center; strolling vine with outside roll to face wall; strolling vine 3 and a quick side/close to face center; very slow right lunge; hover corte in 3 to face reverse and wall, left turning lock in a syncopated 3 (q&qq) to face line and wall, quick open reverse in a syncopated 3 (qq&q) to reverse and center, box finish in 3 to reverse and wall;;; and a contra check switch and step forward (sq&q) to line and wall;
We learned Puttin' On the Ritz 4 U from choreographers Jerry and Barbara Pierce at the 2004 spring Accent On Rounds in Fontana, NC. Wow! What a mixture. We started with samba, then quickstep, some softshoe, two-step, charleston, and even cha.

(48 measures/minute)

Part B contains some softshoe and some quickstep. In escort position, each with left foot free, we balance left and right with a side left, cross right in front of left, and recover left, -; then repeat to the right, again crossing in front; For the third and fourth measures, step side left, -, brush right forward, -; brush right across in front of left, -, and brush right forward and side, -; Then repeat with the right feet: bal R; bal L; step brush three times lady transition to get lead feet free;; quarter turns and progressive chassee;;;; checking to a fishtail; walk two; lock four; walk two;

If you'd like to repeat this sequence around the ballroom, she simply needs to walk three (sqq) in the last measure to escort position again.

Jim and Bonnie Bahr released These Foolish Things in Cue Sheet Magazine in August, 2004, and I can recognize two-step, one-step, five-count, quickstep, and jive. We do a twirl vine two and side two-step; reverse twirl vine two and side two-step; vine two walk and pickup; forward to quarter turn and progressive chasse checking;; fishtail walk and face; two turning two-steps; strolling vine;; basketball turns; twirl vine two walk pickup;


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