The Feather Figures
by Roy &
Following a somewhat
sequence, we will consider a continuation of the feather figures
which were part of last month's description contained in the Reverse
Turn (foxtrot). First, we need to identify the three basic ending
feathers which can be easily mixed up. If the first step is backward
for the man as in the 4,5,6 of the Reverse Turn, it is called a
Feather Finish. If the three steps taken to the feathering position
are started in semi-closed position (SCP), the figure is called a
Feather Ending. Lastly, when the couple starts in closed position
(CP) and ends in the feather position with the standard three steps,
it is called a Feather Step. Although the latter two have been
standardized for many years, they have not yet been caught up by the
Roundalab phase system.
CP, usually facing line of dance (LOD) or DLC, the man takes a heel
lead on his R with a body and foot rise which is continued on his L,
R, starting to turn the upper body right face with a left-shoulder
lead, then stepping outside the lady (banjo). All three steps are
taken in a straight line where the partners keep their shoulders
parallel while making the right-face upper body turn. To check for
correct position, see if the feet are in line (on track) and the
thighs are locked. The actual movement is somewhat like taking the
first two steps to develop momentum and then letting the actual
feather on step 3 be a follow through while using a fairly strong
For the lady, the
is opposite (L,--,R,L) where she goes from a toe to heel on each step
to keep her body moving backwards but allowing freedom of motion for
the man. She keeps her body presented toward the man by releasing the
toe of the foot and drawing the heel backward past the supporting
foot. She must maintain a closed head while turning her shoulders in
a progressive manner right-face and lifting her right side.
FEATHER ENDING: This
extensively in round dancing and starts from a V-SCP, usually facing
LOD or DLC. The three steps used have little feeling of a true
feathering action because the man has only a slight body turn.
Starting with a R across L, --, then continuing L, R in the same
alignment following the body and foot rise of the Feather Step, he is
really accommodating to the lady's turn. He will feel the slight
upper body turn right-face as he keeps his shoulders parallel with
the lady's, and again, a right sway.
Ladies step forward
L from the V-SCP starting a left-face turn, --, then side R to face
the man, then back on their L to the feather position and left sway.
Her head changes gradually from open position to closed on the
left-face turn where she divides it up into 1/8 and 1/8.
CURVED FEATHER (to
This figure is often paired with the Back Feather, however, for round
dancers they must be separated. This is nearly always a SQQ figure
starting facing LOD or DLW in CP or V-SCP. The man steps forward R
starting a right-face turn and going from heel to toe. If commencing
in V-SCP for the same alignment, the first step would be to the side
and slightly forward with the left shoulder leading while bringing
the lady to CP (she steps side and slightly back). Step 2 is
diagonally forward on the L toe preparing to step outside partner now
facing DLW or wall, depending upon the starting position. Step 3 is a
checking motion as the man continues to turn right-face and an
additional 1/8 on the toe to hold in strong contra banjo, lowering to
the heel for the next figure. If the Curved Feather is to be followed
by a Back Feather or Fallaway Whisk, an additional 1/8 body turn is
made after step 3. For an Impetus Turn, Heel Pull, Zig Zag to follow,
the extra turn is not necessary.
The lady's part is
to the man except for footwork---she is also up on the toe for step
2. On her step 3, she again uses a toe-heel, but either lowers late
or stays nearly up with just a heel touch. A right sway for the man
and left for the lady starts on step 2 and continues to build on 3,
then is held until lowering to the heel for the man.
BACK FEATHER: The
the Back Feather is usually the Curved Feather, however, it can be
taken after a Natural Turn from CP. If the precedes is the Curved
Feather, a body turn of 1/8 is made between the last step (see above)
and the first step of the Back Feather. The man steps backward L
toward DLC in line with his R (=CBMP) going from toe to heel. If
taken from CP he would have to use a shoulder lead. Step 2 is a
curving one toward LOD with the right shoulder leading, rising to the
toe and using body rise ready to blend to contra banjo. Step 3 is
back L on the toe in strong contra banjo now facing RLOD at full body
height. Rhythm is always SQQ.
Again, the lady has
movement except for footwork on steps 2 and 3 (T, T-H). The
literature lists a fourth step, but this is the first of the next
figure---a slow one to lead to the usual Feather Finish.
BACK LEFT FEATHER:
figure usually begins with the man facing RLOD, sometimes facing DRW,
but necessarily requires a CP from a backing precedes on the man's R.
He steps back on the L (Q) with a left shoulder lead to start the
lady moving to his left side. Step 2 (Q) for him requires a little
less than a 1/8 left-face turn as he brings the lady to a strong
contra-sidecar position. The normal figure then uses steps 5 and 6 of
the Reverse Turn on two quicks to complete a standard Feather Finish.
If starting from facing DRW, everything is underturned to still end
facing DLW. Footwork for the man is T-H, T, T, T-H; for the lady is
H-T, T, T-H, T-H. It is important that the man keep his head to the
left on steps 2 and 3.
We should comment at this
time on the phase ratings of what we have covered. Feather Step and
Feather Ending are not listed but "Feather" is described to
cover Feather Ending and appears in Phase IV. Curved Feather is a
Phase V figure while Back Feather appears in Phase IV. Roundalab does
not show a Back Left Feather, but their version of Left Feather
appears in Phase VI and is really an Outside on Left to Weave Ending.
This is not to be confused with the Quick Left Feather which we cover
next month. Curved Feather is also listed under waltz, however, its
customary cue for this rhythm is Hairpin.
column comes from a series published in Cue Sheet Magazine between
1987 and 1992, and is reprinted with permission. The full series is
collected in an 86-pg booklet, available for $30.00 plus postage.
E-mail Fran Kropf at email@example.com. This
article was published in the Dixie Round Dance Council (DRDC)
Newsletter, July 2010.