Shall We Take A Walk
by Harold & Meredith Sears
Walking -- It's just one foot in
of the other, right? It takes us from here to there. Dancing is
walking set to music. And it is walking spiced up in a variety of
other ways, too.
Progressive Walks is a
rumba figure: 3 forward steps (QQS), or back steps "progressing"
backwards, danced on two tracks, that is, with feet side-by-side. Kiki
Walks are the same 3 forward steps danced on one
as on a rail, each step in front of the previous step. Do you suppose
there was a lady named Kiki in Cuba who's "look" was
immortalized in this way?
Jive Walks begin with a
recover (QQ), and then the walks themselves are simply two forward
triples down our line of progression (Q&Q, Q&Q). We might
Jive Walk down line of dance or to reverse. We often progress along
one of the four diagonals. We could even Jive Walk toward center or
toward wall, but then we'd better be ready for some kind of Check or
Switch and then a quick return to our comfortable round-dance circle.
These walks are simply forward/fwd, fwd
for both, often in semi-closed position (SCP). If you want to add
that little bit of spice, incorporate a little up-down motion into
these walks. As you triple with your lead feet, rise and turn toward
your partner. As you triple with the trail feet, lower again and turn
a little away -- triple up and face, triple down toward line.
Swivel Walks are usually
SCP, too. We step forward on the lead foot and lead the lady to
swivel just a little left-face (LF), fwd on the trail feet and the
lady swivels RF (SS). Or we can Swivel Walk 4 Quicks (QQQQ). With
each step, she turns her knee in a little and steps one step in front
of the other. With your frame, you are rotating her just a little:
left, right, left, right. Both could swivel: in, out, in, out. You
can do this figure in a more solo way in open position.
As with Jive Walks, up-down motion
jivey sort of addition. The man steps down line, rising, and leading
strongly with the left shoulder. She steps, rises, and turns sharply
toward him. Then with the trail foot, he crosses in front and lowers
or relaxes a little. She steps forward, lowers, and turns toward LOD.
Repeat. The man is almost doing a Limp. The lady is doing the Swivel
Walks. In the Lillefields' Got a Brand New Bag, part B begins
with two triples down line; and then the cue is "up down swivel
4." The Lillefields specifically ask for the up-down styling,
but it can be used any time "the music tells you" to do it.
Boogie-woogie is a style of blues
playing characterized by an up-tempo rhythm, and Boogie Walks
are up and kinda cool. We might be in open position with same
footwork. Draw the R foot to L rise on the L pushing the body forward
as the R moves fwd & circles 1/8 clockwise to end diagonally
forward on the ball of the foot, then the whole foot lowering into
the knee, draw L to R rise on R foot pushing body fwd as the L foot
moves fwd & circles 1/8 counter-clockwise to end diagonally fwd
on the ball of the foot, then whole foot lowering into the knee, and
do it again (SSSS).
And then we come to whole flocks
herds of animal stylings. Chicken Walks often begin in open
facing position, line of dance, lead hands joined. The man walks
backward four steps, and he leads the lady to walk forward, gently
pulling her and causing her to swivel a bit with each step (QQQQ). Or
we can Chicken Walk 2 slow (SS) or even QQS. She swivels RF on her
left foot, steps with her right, and turns the foot a bit right-face,
turning the toes out or turning the heel in, then swivels LF, steps
left, and turns the L toes out, and so on. And of course, really,
it's a hip thing. She turns her hips to the right and then to the
left -- swivel hips -- no chicken was ever that alluring.
He leads her to make these little
swiveling turns by turning her lead hand left and then right. He
turns the hand in the direction that he wants her to swivel. I think
most men dance this figure with soft knees and maybe a kind of
"coaxing" attitude: "Come on, baby." and the lady
leans back away from him with something of a resisting attitude: "No,
I'm not giving in easily." She might be a little haughty. You
have to play around with that sort of styling, but do try for some
kind of "attitude." Don't just walk.
If there are Chicken Walks, then
must be Rooster Walks, but these do not involve the man being
pulled reluctantly forward. Roosters are not reluctant. Again, in
left open facing position, stand tall, puff out the chest, and strut
forward L, fwd R, fwd L, fwd R (QQQQ). Think dominant "cocky"
thoughts. Do not swivel your hips. The manly chest substitutes for
the swivel hips. Now, the lady is not really cowed by all this
posturing. She lowers and moves backward coyly. She may certainly
swivel. This is playful. If you want to go for conspicuous giggles,
the man can take his free hand and place it at the back of his head,
fingers splayed, like a rooster's comb.
In our Turkey Walks, we
down the emotional intensity a little. In a left shadow position, man
to lady's right, both facing the wall, and no hands joined, hands
down and slightly out from the body, palms forward and fingers
splayed, shake or slightly rotate the hands back and forth in a "jazz
hands" sort of way, and step side L toward LOD passing behind
the lady (W sd R to RLOD passing in front of the man), close R, side
L, close R (QQQQ). Of course, the hand styling may vary. Another
common style is to put the right hand on your hip and "jazz"
only the left hand (W mirrors M).
I think we've seen Duck Walks
only once, in I'm On Your Side, a west coast swing by Goss. We
begin an Underarm Turn (QQQ&Q), and then in left open facing
position with the trail feet free, the man swivels RF on the L (W
swivel LF on R) and steps forward R toward the wall (W fwd L to
wall), draw L to R swiveling LF and step forward L toward COH (W
mirror), draw R to L swiveling RF to step fwd R/L, R toward wall
(QQQ&Q). Are these Chicken Walks with extreme turnout, without
the progression, and without the emotional sensuousness?
Camel Walks seem to lack
feeling, too, but we want to remember that each dancer can certainly
invest whatever emotion he or she has at the moment. Sometimes, Camel
Walks are a shifting in place with knee action, sort of shifting your
toes in the desert sands. In a facing position with hands on the
hips, veer the left knee in and then out in a counter-clockwise
motion (W mirrors M with right knee in a clock-wise motion), and then
take weight, veer the right knee in and then out in a clock-wise
motion (W mirrors), and take weight (SS). Also done QQQQ and probably
with other timings as well.
We have also seen them done with
progression. Here, the emphasis is less on knee rotation and more on
knee bend and on side lead to produce a
plodding-through-the-desert-sand look. Facing partner and LOD, no
hands joined, you can step back L with left-side lead (W mirrors),
cross R in front of L (W cross L in back) with strong knee bend
lowering, bk L, bk R with right-side lead; cross L in front of R with
lowering, bk R, bk L, cl R to L (QQQQ; QQQQ). Or, you can step fwd L
with left-side lead (W mirrors), cross R in back of L (W cross L in
front) with lowering, fwd L, fwd R with right-side lead; cross L in
back of R lowering, fwd R, fwd L, cl R to L.
For Crab Walks, we might
butterfly position, M facing wall, and both cross the trail foot in
front of lead foot, step side, cross in front, step side, cross, side
(QQS; QQS; in rumba). Or, we could travel to reverse starting with
lead feet. In the album It Must Have Been Something I Said,
the Smothers Brothers once sang, "Crabs walk sideways and
lobsters walk straight."
Finally, two figures that aren't
much. The Castle Walk is a one-step figure from Vernon and
Irene Castle's Modern Dancing, 1914. In a loose closed
position, line of dance, just walk. Reach out with the toe, stay up,
light and breezy, legs a bit stiff. Sway into the turns -- stretch
the opposite side. Dance SSSSSSSS QQS SSSSSSSS QQS. The two-step part
(QQS) is a little skip. You might take four steps to banjo (SSSS),
four steps back to closed (SSSS), four steps to sidecar (SSSS). The
Castles called this the Step Out. They also did the Step Out to banjo
(SSSS), then turned 1/2 RF to sidecar with man backing (SSSS), and a
turn 1/2 LF back to banjo again (SSSS). You can see Fred Astaire and
Ginger Rogers do the Castle Walk in their 1939 movie, The Story of
Vernon and Irene Castle. Get the DVD from your local library and
check out this jaunty figure.
And dare we end with the Moon
Actually, we have seen this figure in one round dance, Brent
Mickey Moore's Somewhere My Cha
(2000). With the left hand forward, press into the right foot
lifting the R heel as the L foot slides back (draw the L hand back
and move the R hand forward as if striding forward), take weight on
the L and lift the L heel as the R foot slides bk, press into the R
foot lifting the R heel as the L foot slides back, take weight on the
L and lift the L heel as the R foot slides bk (QQQQ). One could do a
"forward" Moon Walk, but the lady, facing the man, might
also choose to walk forward with some other styling. In Somewhere
My Cha, the sequence is Half Basic, man facing wall; Cross Body
to 3 chas down LOD, jump close & body wave; man Moon Walk lady
Swivel Walk, progressing to RLOD.
You might remember that Michael
did the Moon Walk during a performance of Billie Jean in 1983.
He wasn't the first to dance the figure. I understand that Cab
Calloway did it back in the '30s, and the mime Marcel Marceau did it
from the '40s into the '80s, maybe in his "Walking Against the
Wind" routine. Anyway, it's also called the Backslide and it can
give the illusion of the dancer clearly walking forward but actually
progressing backward. Jackson did it really well. If you aspire to
master this figure in preparation for the next time you hear the cue,
or maybe so you can substitute the Moon Walk for your next Back Walk
4, visit YouTube.
We even found some instruction on Videojug.
There are many more "walks"
in round dancing. We have Side Walks and Cross Walks (each forward
step crossing a bit in front). There are Bolero Walks (SQQ; SQQ),
Samba Walks (QaQQaQ), merengue Conga Walks (QQQQ with a touch &
shoulder gesture on 4), samba Stationary Walks (QaQ in place), and
tango Argentine Walks (SSQQSSQQ) and Stalking Walks (a whole measure
for each step). We are walking, but of course we are not just
A brief version was
published in the Washington Area Square Dancers
Cooperative Association (WASCA) Calls 'n'
Cues, 2/2012. This longer version was published in the DRDC
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Past DRDC Educational Articles by
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Chris & Terri Cantrell,
Harold & Meredith Sears, 2005-present
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