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Picture Figures

© by Susie & Gert-Jan Rotscheid

Picture figures seem to be quite frightening at first to all of us -- after all, what is a picture but something suspended in time, something to look at, and that means that people could be looking at us!! A line is no more than stopping your movement, and in a picture figure we also use "shaping," which is turning your body to fit your partner. If we learn proper execution (and practice, of course), we can all learn to make nice-looking picture or line figures.

One of the first things to realize is that if you feel uncomfortable, you are probably off balance and look uncomfortable too. So don't exaggerate or extend any lines past your own point of comfort, nor that of your partner. A nicely executed, less exaggerated line is much more pleasing to the eye than a sloppy, over-exaggerated one.

One thing to check before you actually start into any picture or line figure is your position in relation to your partner. You should be in a good closed position, and you both must have your balance. If either of you haven't established good balance first, then you will either be pushed or pulled into the figure, or you will be pushing or pulling your partner into the figure. Then the whole figure will be off balance, and that is not a pretty picture.

Be sure, especially in a picture figure, not to try and "out-do" your partner, no matter how much better you might think you are at executing this figure than he or she is. It is important to realize that, while you are two people, you are trying to look like one unit. At the completion of this figure, each of you should be completely on balance, on his/her own, and with your weight over one of your own feet. You should not be crouching over nor hanging onto your partner.

When making a line, be sure that your hips and shoulders are parallel -- the shoulders are never turned further than the hips -- and also check that your elbows are not behind your body. Ladies, when making a line or picture figure, we often use our heads more than the men do. Be sure, when you are making one of these figures, not to start it with your head, but extend your body, your head being the last part of that extension.

Reprinted from ROUNDALAB Journal, Winter 1994/95; this article was published in the Dixie Round Dance Council (DRDC) Newsletter, September 2011. For a round world, Gert-Jan & Susie Rotscheid




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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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Past DRDC Educational Articles by
Jim & Barbara German, ca. 2000-2001
Chris & Terri Cantrell, 2001-2005
Harold & Meredith Sears, 2005-present

Some articles and dance helps by
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Gert-Jan & Susie Rotscheid (see Notebook)



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