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One Figure 

A Step is a movement of the foot from here to there. A Figure is a specific sequence of steps forming a set that is complete, is often standardized, and is widely accepted and used as one component of a dance routine.

Bolero, Half Moon

by Harold & Meredith Sears

Like the Horseshoe Turn, the Half Moon is a standard, phase V figure. It takes two measures, dances SQQ; SQQ; and it turns 1/2 as a couple. It usually begins with a New Yorker–like action and ends with a Whip action that changes sides.

So, in a facing position, with a R-R handshake, perhaps man facing COH, we step side R toward LOD beginning to turn RF with right-side stretch producing a little left sway (lady steps side L beginning to turn LF with left-side stretch producing a little right sway). At the end of the first "slow" count, we are in a slight "V" position opening toward LOD and looking at partner in a loving sort of way. Notice that the three styling details that we have listed here, the sway, the "V" body position, and the "look," all do the same thing. They all focus your body on that of your partner. Your body is inclined toward your partner, your torso, your belly button, is aimed more at your partner than away, and you are seeing your partner. You are dancing with your partner. As a shorthand, we say you are "shaped" toward your partner. In bolero, one of our dances of love, let's do that whenever we can.

For steps 2 and 3 of the first measure, continue turning RF (lady LF) and step forward L like a New Yorker in handshake, and recover R (lady recover L) turning to face partner.

In the second measure, we have the lead feet free. Turn 1/4 LF and step side and fwd L with left side stretch (lady turns 1/4 RF, steps side and fwd R). Shape toward partner. During this slow-count, she does not want to get her left arm trapped under the handshake, so she might raise it to flow gracefully across in front of her body, above the handshake, or she might raise it vertically above her head, turning slightly away from partner but still looking at him. On the fifth step, the man recovers back R, leading her to step forward L in front of him turning LF 1/2. Partners have traded sides. On the last step, he steps fwd L turning 1/4 LF to face partner and wall (lady steps back R and turns 1/4 LF to face partner and COH).

The first boleros that we danced always began this figure with the man facing COH and ended facing wall. For instance, in Danny Boy by Weiss (1998), we dance a Forward Break facing the wall; Right Pass to a handshake COH; Half Moon breaking first toward LOD; and then bringing the lady across on the RLOD side of the man to face wall again; This orientation is common, but the figure certainly doesn't require it.

In Gabriellas sång by Hilpert & Pohl (2012), we are facing partner and wall with lead feet free. We dance Riff Turns toward LOD; New Yorker toward LOD; Half Moon;; This example is a standard Half Moon, but it will feel different because it initially proceeds toward RLOD. After the New Yorker, we have trail feet free, so the Half Moon breaks toward RLOD, and during the second measure the lady moves across in front of the man on his LOD side. Now the man is facing COH. The choreography continues into another Half Moon, where we break toward LOD, and, again, this is the orientation we are more used to.

In Wounded Heart by Worlock (2003), we are in a handshake position, man facing COH. Progressing to RLOD, we dance a Cross Body, lady moving across; Man's Cross Body to handshake COH again; Half Moon;; Given the body flow of this sequence and the fact that our lead feet are free for the Half Moon, we dance the figure with the Whip-like action first to face wall and, second, the New Yorker–like break action to RLOD. The choreography then continues into a Spot Turn to LOD; Fence Line to RLOD; and Riff Turns to LOD;

Clearly, the Half Moon is a versatile piece of choreography. We can begin facing COH or facing wall, initially progress toward LOD or toward RLOD, and probably other facing directions as well. We can switch the order of the component parts and probably even interrupt the figure to tuck additional choreography between the two parts.

While we're thinking about Moons, let's take a quick look at the Full Moon (phase VI). It would be natural for us to hope that the Full Moon is simply two Half Moons, one after the other, but, no such luck. As you dance these figures, you do sense a relationship between them, but it is not identical, not a duplication. The relationship is more that of cousins.

We've seen that the Half Moon is two measures and about a half turn (e.g., from COH to wall). The Full Moon is four measures and about a full turn (e.g., from wall around to wall again). So, in duration, the Full Moon is two Half Moons. Similarly, the Half Moon usually consists of a lunging action, followed by a whipping action, and the Full Moon alternates a whipping measure, a lunging measure, a whip, and a lunge. But in the details, the relationship gets more distant. In the Half Moon, the lunging actions are handshake New Yorkers. In the Full Moon, they are varsouvienne chairs. In the Half Moon, the whipping actions are fairly standard whips across. In the Full Moon, they are swivel whips to varsouvienne.

So, in more detail, the Full Moon is a four-measure figure that turns LF a full turn. It is sort of a handshake whip to a varsouvienne chair and then repeat. In facing position, the man often facing wall, with a R-R handshake (and R hands will remain joined throughout), we step side & forward L (lady trns RF and steps sd & fwd R) both toward LOD and shaping toward partner, turning LF step back R (lady fwd L beginning to cross in front of man toward COH), cont LF turn forward L (lady fwd R toward COH) bringing R hands up behind lady to lead her to spiral 7/8 LF; In this first measure, the man has whipped her across and she has spiraled to a shadow position facing COH (SQQ).

In the second measure, the man steps forward R joining left hands in varsouvienne position COH (lady continues to turn LF and steps fwd L facing COH), forward L (lady fwd R) with a small, chair-like lunge, he releases left hands and steps back R (lady bk L beginning to turn RF); At this point, the man is facing COH and the lady is in the process of turning and her shoulders may be facing LOD or even DLW (SQQ).

In the third measure, the man steps back L beginning to turn 1/8 LF and preparing for another whip-like action. The lady continues to turn and steps small forward R toward DLW at the man's right side, and continues to turn in a hip-twist-like way, brushing her L foot to her R until she is facing DRC. This is tricky. Notice that her third step of the second measure was back L toward the wall, turning, and her first step of the third measure was forward R, almost toward wall again, still turning. Over these two steps, she has turned at least 3/4 RF. Now, the man continues his LF turn and steps back R toward LOD (lady fwd L turning LF). He continues his LF turn and steps forward L bringing R hands up behind lady to lead spiral (lady fwd R spiraling 7/8 LF); In this third measure, the man has whipped her across and she has spiraled to a shadow position facing wall (SQQ).

In the fourth measure, the man steps forward R toward the wall joining left hands in varsouvienne position again (lady continues her LF turn and steps fwd L toward the wall), forward L (lady fwd R) with the little chair-like, lunging feel, back R releasing left hands (lady bk L beginning to turn RF);

As in many bolero figures, we do not end this figure at any kind of stopping point but are flowing into another hip-twist-like figure.

For instance, in Feel My Love by Worlock (2008), we are in handshake position, man facing partner and wall. We do a Full Moon around to the wall again;;;; Hip Twist overturned to a Facing Fan LOD; to a Forward Break. In On Days Like These by Preskitt (2011), there is a Spot Turn; Contra Break; Full Moon;;;; Hip Twist to a Fan; to a Hockey Stick.

Finally, in One Moment In Time by Worlock (2012), we dance a Horse & Cart; lady out to the wall & face, right handshake, lead feet free; start a Full Moon to Varsou COH; break as normal; Cross Body to the wall; Half Moon to RLOD; Lady Syncopated Inside Turn 5 toward LOD; Horseshoe Turn to LOD; and around to face wall again. With this little sequence, we come full circle in our recent discussion: We dance part of a Full Moon, blend to a Half Moon, and then into a Horseshoe Turn. These three are characteristic and delightful bolero figures.


Versions of this article were published in Footnotes In the Round, LRDTA November/December 2011; in Round Notes, Colorado Round Dance Association, Dec 2011/Jan 2012; and in Dixie Round Dance Association (DRDC) Newsletter, December 2012.



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