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Waltz Workshop Notes

by Russ & Barbara Casey

In striving to make our round dancing more enjoyable, we believe that it is necessary to concentrate our efforts on improving our basics. As our basics improve, dancing, particularly as a couple, becomes easier and therefore more enjoyable. Attempting to dance some of the figures and combinations of figures we find in some of the advanced routines can lead to frustration when we are unable to execute them comfortably, at times causing us to focus on our frustration instead of the enjoyment we normally find in our dancing. Attempting to improve our execution of the more difficult figures without working on improving our basics usually brings short-lived, if any, improvement. The things we work on in the waltz rhythm apply to dancing in general.

The most elementary and, we believe, the most important of our basics is our posture as individuals and as a couple (dance position) -- standing (or dancing) erectly with each partner staying on his or her own side, essentially carrying your head over the left hip, and keeping your shoulders parallel to those of your partner. By not encumbering your partner with your body and by giving him/her as much dancing room as possible, we can dance with as much freedom as possible, enabling us to dance to the best of our abilities, both as individuals and as couples. Improving our posture requires an ongoing effort with room for improvement always present.

The extent to which we use our feet and legs determines how much advantage we can take of our improving posture and dance position. We must lower at the completion of each figure to allow us to get a heel lead to begin the ensuing figure. This heel lead allows us to spend as much time as possible on the first step, enabling us to use the spot to maximum advantage, since so much of our movement and turn is derived from the first step. As we dance natural and reverse turns, we can begin our turning movement as we lower, with the person moving backward and on the inside of the turn curving, preparing to allow his/her partner to swing past as easily as possible. As the person moving forward continues to swing past his/her partner, dancing from the first to the second step of the figure, a sway is developed. It is important that any sway results from the swinging movement and is not a forced movement, which usually occurs too early and results in the person moving forward leaning into his/her partner (failing to stay in good dance position). The swinging movement also initiates a rise, which remains constant until the feet close at the end of the turn, at which time we begin to lower again, to repeat the process.


From clinic notes prepared for the URDC annual convention, 1994. Reprinted in the Dixie Round Dance Council (DRDC) Newsletter, January 2013.



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