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Round Dance Tips by Tim Eum —

Some Jive Tips

ROCK THE BOAT (Phase III): "Rock the Boat" is a phase 3 jive figure that is used sometimes in Two Step dances such as "Fireman Two Step (Eddins)", "Baby Likes To Rock It (Scott)", and "Miss New Orleans (Young)". There are only two weight changing steps in "Rock the Boat" -- Step forward and then Close. So how's that different from a "Scoot"? The difference is in the body styling. When you step forward (usually in Semi-Closed Position) with the lead foot (man's left and lady's right) in the "Rock the Boat", you do so with a straight leg and lean forward. Then on the second step, when you close with the trail foot (man's left and lady's right) you relax the knees and lean back. A common sequence is to do one slow Rock the Boat (SS) and then two quick Rock the Boats (QQQQ). This is three step forward and closes in a row with the body leaning forward then back, forward then back, and again forward and back --- do this correctly and you'll really be rocking :-) A optional fun thing you can do is to use "trombone arms". Rather than just rock forward and back -- push your joined lead hands out when you step and lean forward, then bring the joined lead hands back toward your chest as you close and lean back.

RIVERBOAT SHUFFLE (Phase IV): Riverboat Shuffle is a rarely used figure in round dancing. If you only did the steps it is nothing more than a front vine 4 starting with trail foot, i.e. Xif, Sd, Xib, Sd ; What makes it a little more difficult is that you should do the armwork at the same time. While not that hard, trying to get your arms and feet to move together at the same time takes some practice. In the Riverboat Shuffle, you are supposed to cross your arms in front during the crossing steps and extend them out to the side during the side steps. You should also bend the knees to lower a little during the crossing steps and straighten them to rise to normal height during the side steps. So how difficult can a front vine 4 be, even with some armwork and rise and fall? Try it -- you'll see why it is a phase 4 figure and not a phase 2 like other vines. Oh, did I mention that while facing partner, the Riverboat Shuffle is done solo without touching so there is no lead and follow except for visual. I like to snap my fingers when I bring them in and I recommend you doing so as well. One last thing to add is that I recommend swaying to man's right (lady's left) when crossing in front with trail foot, straightening back during the side step, then swaying to man's left (lady's right) during the cross in back step, and ending straight during the last side step.

MARCHESSI (Phase IV): Many round dancers first encounter this figure in the old classic “Hooked on Swing” and then never see it again. The Marchessi footwork is actually quite simple. There are only two foot actions to master. The first is “heel”, where the man just rocks forward on his left foot heel (lady rocks back on right toe), then both recover. The second is “toe” where the man just rocks back onto his left toe (lady rocks forward onto her right heel), and then both recover. So what is difficult about rock, recovers? What makes it hard is that you must do eight of these actions all in a row in the correct order and you are facing your partner with your feet very close together (i.e. collisions occur if both man and lady are not in sync). Here is the order: Heel – Toe – Heel – Heel – Toe – Heel – Toe – Toe. While you can do the Marchessi with no hands touching and just facing partner, it is most commonly done in loose closed position. A common mistake is to simply point the foot forward or back without taking weight. If you do this you will lose the “rocking motion” and the true feel of the figure. You really should put weight onto your heel when rocking forward or onto your toe when rocking back. One fun thing to do in the Marchessi is to lower the joined lead hands to waist level and then push them forward when rocking forward and pull them back when rocking back. This accentuates the “rocking motion”. Here’s one last tip – when rocking forward, lean slightly back and when rocking back lean slightly forward. You will really be rocking if you follow all of these tips.

MIAMI SPECIAL (Phase IV): In the 1950’s, it was common to see guys have slick hairstyles and combing their hair in public. Miami’s beaches were a place for such young men to show their stuff. In round dancing, we have a figure that commemorates those times – the phase IV jive figure, “Miami Special”. For the lady this figure is very similar to a “Change Places Left to Right” except with starting in handshake (right hands joined) – she will rock apart with right foot, recover on left, then triple (R/L,R) toward man’s right side spinning left face ¾ on the last step of the triple, then finishing with a side triple (L/R, L) sliding right hand down man’s left arm. The man starts the “Miami Special” by rocking apart left, recovering on right, then does a forward triple (L/R, L) while raising the joined right hands up and over his head (i.e., a “headloop”) and turning right face ¾. During this first triple, he extends his left arm toward and behind the lady and lets go of the right hands ending in a left half open position. To finish the figure, the man then does a side triple (R/L, R) ending in either full Left Open Position or Left Open Position Facing. What makes the “Miami Special” special is what the man does with his right hand during that last side triple apart. He should sweep it over his head as if combing his hair and then out to the side.

SOLE TAP (Phase IV): Roundalab, the International Association of Round Dance Teachers, has adopted as a new standard phase 4 jive figure, the "Sole Tap". This figure is in the classic dance "Boogie Blues" (JV-6) and the new dance that Cindy and I wrote, "Long Cool Woman" (JV-4). The "Sole Tap" starts like a Shoulder Shove. From left open facing position, rock apart, recover, and then step toward partner with lead foot turning so that your lead shoulder is toward partner. It is now on the fourth beat that you do the sole tap -- simply take your trail foot (man's right, lady's left) and lift it up so that it crosses directly behind the lead leg's knee. If done correctly the sole of your trail foot should be able to tap the sole of your partner's trail foot. To finish the standard "Sole Tap" figure, you then triple apart, man to his right and lady to her left. The timing of the "Sole Tap" is thus 1,2,3,4,5a,6 .

LINK (Phase III) TO A WHIP TURN (Phase V): Most every figure in Jive begins and ends with lead foot free. But Link is an exception -- and so is Whip Turn. Link is a phase 3 Jive figure that begins with lead foot and ends with trail foot free. The link is simply a Rock Apart, Recover, and a small forward triple (Fwd/Cl, Fwd). Often there is a right face turn of about a 1/4 to 3/8. Often you begin with only your lead hands joined with your partner (i.e. LOPF) and end in closed position. If you started in LOPF-wall, you would end in CP facing RLOD or even DRC. The Whip Turn is a phase 5 figure that begins with trail foot and ends with lead foot free. The first two steps of a Whip Turn for the man resembles the numbers "7" and "11". The man begins by crossing his right foot behind his left rotating right-face as he does it, which causes his right toe to aim at his left heel and his right heel to be further around (thus the "7"). The man keeps rotating and steps side with his left which will cause his feet to be parallel and so make the "11". The man's final three steps (XRib/Sd L, Sip R) are like doing a Sailor Shuffle while turning right-face slightly. The lady starts the Whip Turn by rotating right-face and stepping side left (i.e. 11"), then crossing her right foot in front (i.e. "7") and finishing with a side chasse (Sd L/cl R, Sd L) with a slight right-face turn. Together the "Link to a Whip Turn" begins and ends with lead foot free and turns one full turn. If you start in LOPF-wall you will end in CP facing wall.

MOOCH (Phase V): One of the figures in the popular jive “How Lucky Can One Guy Be” is the phase 5 jive figure “Mooch”. This is a standard Roundalab-defined figure but has not been used much and is thus unfamiliar to many dancers. The Mooch is a five-measure figure. It starts in SCP or Half Open with lead foot free and like most jive figures the first two steps are rock (back), recover. Now you kick up and step, kick up and step. The kicks are very quick, you simply lift your knee a little and then flick your foot out and then quickly come back down and step on it, then do it a second time with the other foot. What then follows is the most troublesome. It is simply rock back and recover just like the first two steps, but many dancers want to go forward after the two kick and closes and thus fumble when having to rock back and recover. After this second rock back and recover simply face partner and do a quick chasse to man’s left (lady’s right) to end in half left open. Note that the lady’s right arm should still be on top of the man’s left arm. You are half-way done with the Mooch. To finish it, just do the same thing as the first half but going the other direction and starting with the trail foot. Rock back, recover; kick, close, kick, close; Rock back, recover to face, Chasse Right (lady left chasse) to end where you started with lead foot free. One tip is that since this is Jive – you should “jazz it up” by perhaps using “jazz hands” with the free hands and doing the figure with vigor and smiles.

RIGHT TURNING FALLAWAY WITH A GLIDE (Unphased): The phase 3 jive “Good Luck Charm” is a great dance to practice the figure “Right Turning Fallaway with a Glide” – at least if you like Elvis Presley’s singing. The “Right Turning Fallaway with a Glide” is just a normal “Right Turning Fallaway” with two extra steps (Side & XIF) inserted between the triples. Remember that a Right Turning Fallaway begins either facing partner or in SCP. For the first step turn to SCP and rock back, then recover on the second step to face partner in loose closed position. In the Right Turning Fallaway you then do two triples turning right face half-way around (i.e. if starting facing wall, end facing COH). For the first triple, the man chasses side L/R, L toward his left (lady chasses side R/L, R) turning about ¼ right-face (i.e. if starting facing wall, end facing RLOD). For the second triple the man chasses side R/L, R (lady chasses side L/R, L) toward his right turning about another ¼ right face to complete the figure. The “Glide” is just two extra steps that occur after the first triple and before the second triple. The timing for the normal Right Turning Fallaway is 1,2, 3a4; 5a6. Timing for the Right Turning Fallaway with a Glide is 1,2, 3a4; 5, 6, 7a8. Note that the Glide occurs on steps 5 and 6. After doing the first triple, you will have trail foot free (man’s right, lady’s left) and be in loose closed position man facing generally RLOD (if you began facing wall) but with right-face turning momentum. To do the Glide, step side LOD (if you began facing wall) and then for the second step cross in front (XIF). You will then have the trail foot free to finish the figure with a right chasse toward LOD ending in CP man facing COH (if you began facing wall). The Glide should have a “moving” feel to it so when you step side and XIF, do so with wide steps not short ones. A fun thing to do on the Glide is to bend the knee when stepping side so that you can “scoop” thru on the crossing step.

TRIPLE PRETZEL TURN Unphased): Our standard, jive, phase 4 Pretzel Turn often begins in closed position facing wall. We rock back L (woman bk R) to fallaway position, recover R to face, step sd/cl, sd turning 1/2 RF (woman 1/2 LF) keeping lead hands joined; chasse L/R, L turning up to 1/4 more, You might be side to side both facing line with your lead hands joined behind your backs and your trail arms extended forward, but I think most will be in a V-position, man facing line and center and woman facing line and wall. This gives the next step a contra look. On beat 3 of the second measure, cross the L in front of the R (woman XRIF of L) with a little lunging action and extend the trail hand forward with palms down. Or you might mime a "cool" snapping of the third finger in time to the lunge. Recover R beginning to turn LF (woman unwind RF); step sd L/cl R, sd L turning to face partner still holding lead hands, sd R/cl L, sd R to closed position again. Timing is 123a4; 1a234; 1a23a4;

This is a progressive wrapping into your lead arms as you roll down line and then unwrapping as you roll to reverse again. The figure can begin in other positions, such as SCP or BFLY, and it can progress in any direction.

Sometimes a choreographer will insert two rocks or lunges in the middle of this figure rather than the standard one rock, and the arm work can be even "cooler" then.

The Triple Pretzel Turn is a relatively new, unphased figure that we first saw in How Lucky Can One Guy Be by Preskitt (2012). It has since been used by others. The Triple Pretzel Turn is a five measure figure. Overall it is like a regular Pretzel Turn but with a couple of extra chasses and rock & recovers in it. Start the Triple Pretzel Turn the same as a regular Pretzel Turn – from a facing position or SCP. Rock back on lead foot (man’s left & lady’s right) and then recover to face. Keeping lead hands joined, do two quick chasses (side/close, side and then another side/close, side) with the man turning right face (lady left face) to end in a back to back V-position. Most of the turn occurs at the end of the first chasse and before the second chasse. Then as in the regular Pretzel Turn, extend the trail hands out to man’s right (lady’s left) as both cross rock in front and recover. Now we do something extra. Letting go of lead hands while joining trail hands chasse (side/close, side) to man’s left (lady’s right) and then cross rock in front and recover. Now we do it again the opposite way. Letting go of trail hands while joining lead hands chasse to man’s right (lady’s left) and then cross rock in front and recover. Finally we finish the same way as a regular Pretzel turn by doing two chasses (side/close, side and then another side/close, side) with man turning left face and lady right face to end facing partner.



Tim Eum prepared many Round Dance Tips for Calls 'n' Cues, Washington Area Square Dancers Cooperative Association (WASCA), for his weekly Rocket Rounds email report, and for other publications. Reprinted, Dixie Round Dance Council Newsletter, May 2014 and October 2015.  Visit this page for a DRDC Eum archive.


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