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
Bolero Horseshoe Turn
by Harold & Meredith Sears
The Horseshoe Turn is a phase V figure.
It takes two measures, dances SQQ; SQQ; and as a couple turns 1/2. It
begins with a New Yorker–like action and ends with a sort of
Underarm Turn that changes sides. If the man begins facing COH, the
initial action will move toward LOD and he will end facing wall. If
he begins facing wall, the initial action will move toward RLOD and
he will end facing COH.
So, in a facing position, man facing
COH, usually with lead hands joined, step side and forward R with
right-side stretch producing a little left sway (lady side and fwd L
with left-side stretch producing right sway) to a "V"
position opening toward LOD. Step thru L a small step (lady thru R)
with a checking action, like a New Yorker, and continuing to shape
Let's pause in our description a
moment: We often find ourselves comparing a checked through step to
the familiar New Yorker, but this step is not completely "like a
New Yorker." Where the New Yorker thru step is often placed well
ahead in a relatively enthusiastic lunge and with bodies opened out
to a fully side-by-side left-open position, what you might prefer
here is a more subtle slipping of the lead feet through to a soft
check, rather than a completely lowered lunge. Second, don't open
fully away from your partner. Bolero is one of the many "dances
of love." So stay shaped toward partner. Stay in that V-position
of the first step. Step through with crossed thighs, not forward in
left-open position. You might even continue to use your left sway (W
right sway) to keep your upper bodies closer. As you will see, you
can make this whole figure a close and cozy sequence.
On the third step of the first measure,
the man recovers R (lady L) and raises lead hands, anticipating the
lady's underarm turn to come. In the second measure, both step
forward, the man beginning a tight left-face (LF) turn and the lady
beginning a tighter RF underarm turn. The man finishes with a fwd R
turning, and fwd L turning to face partner (lady fwd L turning under
joined lead hands, fwd R to face). This part too can be gentle and
cozy. Men, you are gazing at all sides of her as she turns under.
Ladies, glance over your shoulder as he circles around you.
Perhaps the most troublesome step in
the Horseshoe Turn is the fourth one. If we begin with the man facing
COH and do our cozy "New Yorker" action toward LOD, then
step 4 for the man is forward toward LOD. For both of us, the
underarm part of this figure consists of 3 forward steps curving.
Knowing that a fairly sharp turn is coming up, the man might be
tempted to step forward toward DLW or even toward COH. This can crowd
the lady badly. Maybe worse is to make step 4 a back or a side step,
like a switch to face partner. We are rushing into this turn, and
there is no need to rush. We have three steps in which to make the
turn, and we should use them. After the recover step of the first
measure, calmly step forward again and only begin your LF turn
(lady RF). The lady is making a tighter turn, so she will take this
initial step DLW or even toward wall, but she too is stepping
forward, not side. We might curve only 1/8 on this step. Then forward
and turn a little more, and finally forward and turn to face. This
should be a smooth horseshoe-shaped path with no sharp angles.
Another detail we might consider is the
arm work during the first measure. Many dancers bring the lead arms
through during the first "quick" and then pull them back
during the second Q, just as in a standard New Yorker, and then up
for the underarm turn -- three separate actions -- it might feel a
little more busy than you really want it to be. A quieter option is
to leave the lead arms back in their butterfly-like position during
the break (the first Q). The first measure becomes more Fence
Line–like than New Yorker–like, and then it is a much smaller and
softer action to raise those arms to begin the underarm turn.
More bolero figures here, or go to index.
This article was published in the Dixie Round Dance Council Newsletter, November 2012.
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