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Round Dance Tips by Tim Eum—

Feathers II


Last time, we looked at a variety of Feather figures. This month we will look at three figures, all of which have the same steps but have different names. The main difference among them is their beginning positions.

DIAMOND TURN ENDING – Maintain Banjo or Contra Body Position for all three steps.

The Diamond Turn is a four-measure figure that is one of the most common of all the Waltz or Foxtrot figures. Each measure turns left-face one quarter. The very last measure (i.e. the last three steps) of the Diamond Turn can be called a Diamond Turn Ending. After doing the first three quarters of the Diamond Turn, you will be in Banjo position. The key to doing the very last measure is to stay in a tight banjo position for all three steps (Man back with right foot, side with left foot, cross in front diagonally with right foot – Lady does opposite footwork). Contra Body styling is especially nice. To do contra body styling, turn the upper body slightly right-face (towards partner) as you do the last step of the Diamond Turn Ending (i.e. cross right in front for the man and cross left in back for the lady). It takes a little practice to do this since your legs are moving your body to rotate in a left-face turn while your upper body is turning slightly right face (hence the term “contra body”). If you can do this while maintaining a solid upper body frame (chest, arms, and head all do not move in relation to each other) then you will look beautiful as a couple gliding across the floor.

FEATHER FINISH – Start in Closed Position and end in a tight Contra Banjo Position.

Supposedly, “Feather” is strictly a Foxtrot term, but in Round Dancing it is permissible to take figures from one rhythm and use them in another. Thus you may very well hear Feather Finish being used when dancing a Waltz or even Quickstep. The Feather Finish is danced exactly like the Diamond Turn Ending., except that you will normally begin in Closed Position instead of Banjo. A common sequence is to do a Spin Turn into a Feather Finish. Note that no matter the timing (SQQ in Foxtrot; 123 in Waltz) the footwork is always the same: back, side, cross in Front (cross in back for the lady). To get that exquisite look you still use “Contra Body Movement” (CBM) and maintain close contact with partner.

OUTSIDE CHECK – Start in Sidecar Position and end in a tight Contra Banjo Position.

Do the same steps as Feather Finish, but start in Sidecar (SCAR) and you have an Outside Check. Even though you move from SCAR to BJO, try to keep the rest of the upper body frame the same, as much as you can. There is one further difference. With the Outside Check, you stop your forward motion. Not so with the Feather Finish. Don’t turn much. In 3 steps (back, side, cross in front checking), don’t turn more than about 1/8 left-face turn.


Tim Eum originally prepared these Tips for Calls 'n' Cues, (WASCA); reprinted in the Dixie Round Dance Council (DRDC) Newsletter, September 2010.




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



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