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FIGURE DESCRIPTIONS

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Round Dance Rhythms, Figure Lists—

Below are listed links to the dance rhythms that we use in Round Dancing. These are the same as are listed in the sidebar at left. Click on the rhythm name to go to that figure list. The figure descriptions in each list are primarily based on Roundalab's Standards For Round Dancing and on cue sheets written by many choreographers (see links page).

Some of these figure lists are long, and I have tried to organize figures in related groups rather than in alphabetical lists. If you are interested in a specific figure, rather than in browsing, use the alphabetical index to figures and actions. You can also do a site search, or on a given rhythm page, use the "find" or "search" function in your browser. Let me mention that I try to capitalize the figure name only in column 1 of each figure list. So if you do a browser page search that matches case, you should get the main entry for that figure. If your search ignores case, you will get mentions of the figure among the definitions and examples, as well.

Dance figure descriptions traditionally give the man's footwork first. My strategy is to describe what the man does and then immediately in parenthesis what the woman does. In this way, you can read in one sentence what each partner is doing during that beat of music, rather than read about the man in one place and maybe the woman in another paragraph. I don't want to encourage the man to read only about his part and the woman only about hers.

If you would like some visual instruction, along with my verbiage, look at some of my video suggestions on the links page.

If you can't find the answer you need, if a description is unclear, or if you have any comment or question, please let me know. I'll be glad to help.

Smooth or Modern Rhythms

Click to go to the list of figures.

Characteristic Timing Patterns

Each listing in this column represents one kind of timing pattern common in that rhythm (s=slow, 2 beats; q=quick, 1 beat; &=1/2 beat; a=1/4 beat).

Example of a Basic Figure

In "cue sheet" descriptions, a comma separates two beats, a semi-colon marks the end of a measure, and a slash (/) indicates a split beat, two things occuring in a single beat of music.

American Tango

30-32 meas/min

qqs;
sqq;
ss;
sqq;s
qqqq;

Firm frame, soft knees, deliberate steps, sharp steps and head movements, no rise and fall.

Walk Two: fwd, -, fwd, -;

Tango Draw: fwd, fwd & sd, man draws L to R, -;

Argentine Tango

26-33 meas/min

ss;
qqs;
qqqq;
ss;qqs;
sqq;s

Slower and smoother than International Tango; comfortable "embrace" hold; flowing steps on balls of feet, knees flexed, slight rise and fall.

Right Foot Basic: In closed position, step back R (woman fwd L), -, side L turning LF to banjo, -; fwd R outside partner (woman bk L), fwd & sd L, close R to L (woman cross LIF of R), -;
Bolero

24-26 meas/min

sqq;
sqq;s
qqqq;

Very slow first step with rise, then lower on beats 2 & 3. Smooth, regular tempo; a slow, sensual rumba.

Basic: In closed position facing wall, step sd, -, slip bk, fwd; sd, -, slip fwd, bk;
Cha Cha

28-32 meas/min

123&4;
-&23&4;

Looser hold in Latin, bodies 6" apart. On balls of feet, knees flexed; somewhat bouncy feel: one, two, cha-cha-cha; The second option above is called guapacha (waa-paa-cha) timing, or more often, simply "guapa" timing.

Full Basic: In closed position facing wall, step fwd, rec, sd/cl, sd; bk, rec, sd/cl, sd;
Five Count

30-40 meas/min

ss; qqs;
qqs; ss;

Smooth flow; no rise and fall.

Forward Two and a Two-Step: In semi-closed position, step fwd, -, fwd, -; fwd, cl, fwd, -;
Foxtrot

28-34 meas/min

sqq;
sq&q;
ss;
qqqq;

Lower slightly at the end of each measure, but rise soon and stay up — long gliding steps.

Box: In closed position man steps forward, -, side, close; back, -, side, close;
Hustle

28-30 meas/min

&123
123&
1234;

Smooth and flat disco/swing; a slot dance.

Basic: In closed position (all quicks) point lead foot to side, small side step, point to trail side, small side step; close, step,

Push Break: In low butterfly position, man steps back on left/recover, check fwd on left, bk,

International Tango

30-33 meas/min

qqs;
sqq;
ss;
sqq;s
qqqq;
&s&s;
qq&qq&;

Firm frame, soft knees, deliberate steps, sharp steps and head movements, no rise and fall.

Walk: In closed position, man steps fwd, -, fwd to bjo, -;

Promenade: In semi closed position step fwd on lead foot, -, fwd trail foot, side and fwd lead; close trail foot slightly back of lead still in semi closed position, -,

Jive

44-46 meas/min

American tempo for Swing: 34-36 meas/min

123a4; 1a2
123a4; 123a4;
1234;

Soft knees; quite a bouncy feel. More free than cha; think jitterbug.

Basic Rock: In facing position rk apt, rec, sd/cl, sd; sd/cl, sd,
Lindy

30-36 meas/min

123&4;
1234;

A slow swing style.

Swing Out: In left open facing position, lead feet free, rock back and recover; the woman swivels forward, forward. On the triple, turn right face 1/2 with a side/close, side to closed position. In second measure, hook right behind left, continuing right face 1/2, step side; woman steps fwd, fwd, turning 1/2. Then man does a back triple, and woman does a little side triple to left open facing again.
Mambo

47-51 meas/min

qqs;
ss;

Sharp initial step, small steps; a fast, staccato rumba. Latin hip follows the step.

Basic: In closed position facing wall, man steps forward, recover, side, -; back, recover, side, -;
Merengue

29-32 meas/min

1234;
123&4;
1&2&34;

A flat, marching feel but with lots of Latin hip: place the foot early, take weight late, which moves the hip. Some conscious hip thrusts.

Forward Basic: In closed fwd, fwd, fwd, fwd;

Side Basic: In closed sd, cl, sd, cl;

Mixed Rhythm Anything is possible. Some of these dances move from one recognizable rhythm to another. Others consist of steps that form no standard figures at all.
One Step

30-40 meas/min

American tempo for Peabody: 60-62 meas/min

ss;
qqqq;

Steady walking; no rise and fall.

Walk Two: In closed position, step forward, -, forward, -;

Run Four: fwd, fwd, fwd, fwd;

Paso Doble

29-31 meas/min

1234;

A flat, marching dance with proud, upright carriage.

Appel: Right foot (woman left) is lowered firmly to the floor, This is the first step of many paso figures.

Basic : In closed position appel, fwd, fwd, fwd;

Polka

60-62 meas/min

qqs;

Fast and bouncy; think of Tigger in Winnie the Pooh.

Basic or Forward Two-Step: In semi-closed position, step fwd, close, fwd, -/hop; fwd, close, fwd, -/hop;
Quickstep

50-52 meas/min

qqs;
sqq;
ss;s
sqq;s
qqqq;
ss;qqs;sqq;ss;

Light and skipping, stay up and "in flight."

Quarter Turns and Progressive Chasse is a long figure, but it is found in almost every quickstep. In closed position facing line of dance, man steps fwd L, -, fwd turn right face (RF), -; side, close, sd & bk, -; bk trn LF, -, sd, cl; sd & fwd, -, fwd, -; end in banjo line of dance.
Rumba

26-36 meas/min

qqs;

More regular tempo than cha, on balls of feet, knees flexed. Latin hip follows the step.

Full Basic: In closed position facing wall, man steps fwd, rec, sd, -; bk, rec, sd, -;
Salsa

40-55 meas/min

qqs;
qqqq;
ss;

Fast like mambo but more open, loose, and free

Side Basic: Facing partner, step side, rec, cl, -; sd, rec, cl, -;

Double Step: Facing partner, step sd, cl, sd, -; sd, cl, sd, -;

Samba

24-28 meas/min

1a2; 3a4;
1a2a; 3a4;

With a soft "samba bounce."

Basic Forward and Back: In closed position, man steps fwd/cl, step, bk/cl, step;
Single Swing

26-46 meas/min

qqs; s
qqs; qqs;

This is jive (fast) or swing (slow) where each triple is replaced with a single, slow step.

Basic Rock: In a facing position, rock apart L (W apart R), recover, step side, -; side, -,
Slow Two Step

20-32 meas/min

sqq;
ss&;

Also called Nightclub Two Step. Slow and flat; no rise and fall.

Basic: In closed position facing wall, man steps side, -, XIB, rec; sd, -, XIB, rec;
In 6/8 timing, a half basic would be sd, -, -, XIB, -, rec;
Two Step

30-40 meas/min

qqs;

Smooth flow; no rise and fall.

Forward Two-Step: In semi-closed position, step fwd, close, fwd, -;

Turning Two-Step: In closed position, step sd, cl, fwd and sd turning 1/2, -;

Viennese Waltz

54-60 meas/min

123;

Waltz rise and fall but not as much because of speed.

Viennese Turns: in closed position facing DLW, man steps fwd turning left face, sd turning, cross in front; bk trn, sd trn, cl (woman XIF); (full turn)
Waltz

28-34 meas/min

123;
12&3;

Lower at the end of each measure, stay down through beat 1 of next measure, and then rise during beats 2 & 3 — wave-like rise and fall.

Forward Waltz: In closed position man steps fwd, fwd, close;
West Coast Swing

28-32 meas/min

1234; 1&2
123&4; 1&2
123&4; 123&4;
1234;

Slow and smooth; a "slot" dance where woman dances as on a diving board; the man moves to the side to let her pass.

Sugar Push: In facing position, man steps back, bk, tch, fwd; bk/rec, rec,



dingbat




If you would like to read articles on dance position, technique, styling, and specific dance rhythms, please visit the article TOC. Go beyond this site. Find other references on our Sources and Links pages.













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