Monday, November 30, 2009

Lesson on Waltz and Foxtrot

Heel Turns
Do not lean into turns which throws off the balance of the partnership. Basically, it will knock the lady over. Secondly, soften legs, and roll across the feet. To review, using the closed impetus as an example,
  1. Man: step straight back with left foot. 
  2. Man: draw right foot back even with LF
  3. Man: turn on left heel, with weight distributed so that the ball of the foot still brushes the ground, a half turn.
  4. As Man rises on his right toe, Man corkscrew up, for up to another 3/8, before stepping back on his left foot, for a total of up to 7/8 of a turn
On the heel pull, Man needs to step the turn on 3 after 1/4 of a turn, and rolling onto the inside edge of the ball of the left foot, push off onto the right foot.

Foxtrot versus Waltz
A difference between waltz and foxtrot. In foxtrot, we only drive on the first step, and swing the leg on the second step. In waltz, we drive on the first and second step, and the swing is what brings our feet together to settle at the end of the third step. When practicing the difference in a waltz natural turn versus foxtrot, in the waltz, after the first step, Man puts his left foot forward on the ground, without weight, pointing it, and then pushes off the right foot. In foxtrot, after the first step, Man turns his body, bringing his left foot under me, before then swinging the left foot back. This is part of the difference between leading the lady to pass her feet or do a heel turn, respectively.

The mechanics of partnership and the axis of rotation on turns. There are three possible axes Man could be rotating around when he is on the outside of a turn. These are the lady's sternum, her outside shoulder (outside of the turn) and her elbow. The first two apply, respectively, to foxtrot natural turn, and a waltz natural turn, for example. The elbow would apply for turning into promenade position, for example. Paying attention to having the right axis of rotation for our turns. When Man is on the outside of the turn, he does not turn around his center, his body should swing like a door.

An exercise to practice: move from foot to foot, side to side, and forward and back, rolling across the foot, inside edge to flat, flat to inside edge, heel to toe, and toe to heel. Within this, when you bring your feet together, practice lowering the heels with different timings. Use this exercise to warm up and get a feel for using the whole foot on the floor.

Sway is a consequence of movement, it is not done for its own sake. It would be technically correct to dance with little or no sway at all, there is a school of thought that promotes this, but it would be most suited for very tall couples that could still travel effectively down the floor with, what is for them, small steps. But movement is required to be noticed by the judges in a competition, so for most couples they will be taking big enough steps to require sway.

Our coach's philosophy is that the lady's elbows are the determinant of proper frame. The man's role is more practical, and the point is to display the lady, so the man's frame should be such to allow the lady's elbows to be even with the shoulders. As a point of reference, when I practice by myself, I should hold my right arm so that if I close my right hand to me, it would come to the center of my chest for the swing dances, and to my sternum for tango. Practice holding one of those hourglass shaped carwash sponges between right hand and chest to simulate having a lady there and keeping my right side frame in the right place.

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