Dancemax Letter #17, Thursday, September 21, 2000
Footwork is defined as to what part of your foot comes in contact with the
floor. A clean footwork makes all the difference in dancing. I have heard
many top coaches say, "difference between educated and uneducated feet." If
feet could only speak, it would be obvious right away, who is who!
Yes, we have to know the proper footwork and practice it, but I believe it becomes only second nature to use proper footwork if our dance is based on proper technique. Let us discuss Footwork in Ballroom dances first:
1. Heel (H): In every day life and in ballroom dancing of course, when we walk forward, we take a heel lead and then the foot becomes flat. This footwork is termed as Heel (H), flat is not mentioned and it is assumed that at the end of the step, the foot is flat. Example: Slow Fox-trot: Man's left foot forward in Change of Direction on step 1. His left foot forward, 1st step in Three step (Guy Howard).
2. HeelToe: (HT): Now let's take a normal step forward on heel and either rise or turn. What happens? You will feel pressure in the toe at the end of the step. This footwork therefore becomes HeelToe (HT). Example: Man: First step of a Waltz turn (Turn) or first step in Feather step of Slowfox (Rise).
3. Toe (T): Now get up and stay up, change weight, what do you feel? Yes, you are staying up on Toes and this footwork is Toe (T). Example Man, 2nd step in waltz turn or 2nd step of feather step of slofox. Happens in Weave variations all the time.
4. Toe Heel (TH): OK! Now you have stayed up long enough on toes: Let's get down. It is obvious that when you resume level or go down from up, the foot work becomes ToeHeel (TH). Example: mans 3rd step in waltz turn or his 3rd step of feather in slofox. Also, when man or lady walk backwards it is obviously TH. We all know that as we walk back (TH), the other foot releases the toe and moves back with heel in contact with the floor. There are exceptions for the Man. We will not go into that here.
4. ToeHeelToe (THT): Men, go back on right foot, rise, turn left and lead her by going up. You will feel THT as you feel in Feather Finish.
This is the most simplistic version of footwork but if you want a more advanced, read the following otherwise quit here.
Well, actually when it comes to footwork, it is your foot or your feet that are working the floor and therefore in some figures this could be more complex and quite interesting. For example take Change of direction in slowfox. Man: On step 1, he goes forward left H. On step 2, he slides his right foot forward and makes a turn to left and it feel like he is stepping diagonally forward. The right foot therefore does Inside Edge (IE) of toe then the foot becomes flat after the inside edge of foot to Heel. At the same time the left foot brushes to right foot with Inside Edge (IE) of toe. Then on step 3, he goes forward with left foot, H. Therefore the footwork of Change of Direction for man is 1. H (left foot) 2. IE of T, H (right foot) and IE T of left foot. 3. H (left foot).
The Footwork for the Lady is all the more intricate in this figure of Slofox. When man is stepping forward on left foot she is simply stepping back on right foot (TH), not knowing what is going to happen next. Now on step 2, she steps back on left foot naturally toe first. Suddenly she realizes, O' there is a bunch of turn here with man's right side lead. She matches it with her left shoulder back and starts to use her Inside Edge of toe left foot, turns left and ends heel down. At the same time the inside edge of toe of her right foot brushes past left foot and then she goes right foot back (TH.) for third step. So Lady's footwork in Change of Direction is 1. TH (right foot). 2. T, IE of T, then H left foot and IE of T right foot. 3. T or TH (right foot)..How interesting..not complicated if we know how to dance right! Sorry I didn't want to bore you to death. Go, watch the Olympics! next time we can talk a little Tango..bye...Max
Mr Ruud Vermeij of Netherlands gets Ph.D in Dancing..more on this in next issue.
Questions and comments to Dancemax@aol.com, thank you.