What Is A Top Spin?
by Harold & Meredith Sears
The Top Spin is a phase V figure
is standard in foxtrot, quickstep, and waltz, but it isn't a "killer"
figure. In lots of foxtrots, we have run across a Natural Hover Cross
overturned to reverse and center, Top Spin to face line again,
another Top Spin to face reverse, and then maybe an Impetus to Semi.
In Gone With the Wind, a
by the Worlocks, we begin in left open facing position, man facing
center, with a Roll 3 to reverse, Feather to face reverse and center,
checked to a Top Spin, into a Reverse Wave Check and Weave moving
In J'ai Deux Amours by the
Woodruffs, there is a Reverse Wave, Back Feather, Feather Finish to
face line and wall, checking to a Top Spin to face reverse and
center, checking again to a Hesitation Change to face line and
center, for a Double Reverse Spin.
In Secret Love by the
we do an Open Telemark, a Natural Telemark to sidecar position facing
line of dance, Hover Cross Ending to face line and center, checking
to a Top Spin all the way around to face line and wall, into a Three
Step down line. Usually, we turn the foxtrot Top Spin1/2, so this
example that turns 3/4 gives us a little more of a challenge.
Usually there is a checking action
before the Top Spin, so we are dancing in one direction, and the Top
Spin takes us off in another direction, but it doesn't have to be
that way. In Call Me by the Collipis, we dance a Drag
Hesitation to face reverse and center, back and back lock back down
line of dance, Top Spin continuing to move down line, into a Diamond
Foxtrot Top Spin —
Maybe we should have described the
figure earlier, but we'll do it here. In banjo position with the lead
feet free, we use upper body rotation to spin on the trail foot 1/8
left face and step back left. The woman steps forward right outside
partner. Both the spin and the step are done on the first quick. Then
the man steps back right continuing to turn. With left side stretch,
he steps forward left turning, and then forward right to banjo
position, for a total rotation left-face of 1/4 to 1/2.
In some descriptions, the "spin"
of the Top Spin is the 1/8 left-face rotation on the last step of the
previous figure, preceding the initial step back for the man. In this
view, the figure could be thought of as a spin and step back to a
Feather Finish or a spin to a Weave Ending. In other descriptions,
the spin occurs on the second step. So, the man steps back left
taking out his shoulder lead, back right spinning 1/8 to 1/4 left
face (this is a spiral-like action), side and forward left turning,
and finally forward right to banjo position. In either view, the spin
does occur on the trail foot.
We've noticed above that the Top
is usually preceded by forward motion that is checked. We might do a
Weave and check it to a Top Spin or a Feather Finish and check it to
a Top Spin or a Natural Hover Cross, overturn the ending, and check
that to a Top Spin. To make this figure flow smoothly, we really need
to anticipate that checking action (and the cuer needs to give the
cue early so you can do this). The "anticipation" is a
little extra rise on the step before the checked step and then a
little shorter step than usual on the checked step. For instance, you
might be dancing a Natural Weave checked to a Top Spin. On the sixth
step of the Natural Weave, rise a little more than you normally
would. Then on the seventh step of that Weave, step forward only a
small step. In so doing, you are beginning the checking action early
(with the rise and the smaller step), and the actual check is then
not a surprise.
Waltz Top Spin —
Roundalab recognizes a Top Spin in
waltz, too, but it is a little different figure. We do begin in banjo
position, but our trail feet are free. The man steps back right
turning left-face and with left-side stretch (woman forward left). He
steps side and forward left continuing to turn, forward right outside
partner spinning left, and finally back left in banjo position,
having made up to one full turn. In waltz, the figure is danced
For instance, in Boulavogue
Richard Lamberty, we do a Left Turn to closed position facing
reverse, back to a Top Spin full around, a Hover Corte, to a Back
Whisk facing line and wall.
In Romeo & Juliet by
Mickey Moore, we do an Open Natural to banjo position facing reverse
and center, an Outside Spin to closed position facing reverse and
wall, back to a Top Spin to banjo position facing center (a 5/8
turn), and back to a Hinge man facing reverse and wall.
A Foxtrot Top Spin in a Waltz—
One of the special features of
dancing is that choreographers feel free to draw figures for any
given dance not just from that rhythm but from almost any rhythm at
all. In Are You Lonesome Tonight, a waltz by the Slaters, the
dance begins in left open facing position, diagonal line and center.
We step together on the lead foot and hold, step back turn left and
close to banjo position facing reverse and center, back to a Top Spin
to closed position facing line, and Open Reverse Turn. The dance is a
waltz, but the Top Spin is the foxtrot version: the man steps back
left turning left, back right, side and forward left, and then
forward right to banjo — 12&3.
And a Waltz Top Spin in a Foxtrot —
In All of You by the
we do a Reverse Turn 1/2 to closed position facing reverse, back to a
Top Spin to banjo position facing reverse, back Tipple Chasse Pivot
to closed position facing reverse and center, finish a Reverse Wave
to closed position reverse, into a Heel Pull to closed position line
and center. We whirl fully 2 1/2 turns to the left, and then pause in
the right-face Heel Pull, before we take off again — it's an
exhilarating sequence. But the interesting point is that it is a
Waltz Top Spin. The man steps back right turning, side left, forward
right spinning, and back right — sq&q.
So, what is a Top Spin? We can be sure
that we will take four steps, that we will turn left, and that we
will spin left on the trail foot. But we might start with either the
lead foot (back, back, side, forward for the man) or the trail foot
(back, side, forward, back). The timing might be syncopated or not.
The amount of turn might range from 1/4 to a full turn, and the spin
might occur on the last step of the previous figure, on step 2, or on
step 3. The Top Spin is one of those figures where we have to learn
the choreography in each particular dance.
version of this article was
originally published in the Dixie Round Dance Council (DRDC)
newsletter, October 2010.
you would like to read other articles on dance position, technique,
styling, and specific dance rhythms, you may visit the article TOC.
|If you are not a member of DRDC,
do consider joining. The group sponsors quarterly weekends with great
dancing and teaching, and the newsletter is one of the most informative
Past DRDC Educational Articles by
Jim & Barbara German,
Chris & Terri Cantrell,
Harold & Meredith Sears, 2005-present
Some articles and dance helps by
Sandi & Dan Finch
Gert-Jan & Susie Rotscheid
Go beyond this site. Good instructional
books and videos, both new and used, are available at low prices from Amazon
. Find other references on our Sources