Dancemax Letter # 19 Thursday, October 5, 2000

Dancing Tid-bits
Sway in Dancing

Let's not get into the dictionary. We all know, Sway is inclination of the body either to left or right. When you ride a bicycle and turn or when you see an airplane turning, it sways towards the inside (center) of the turn. This happens because the centrifugal force that tends to throw you "out," has to be balanced by this "sway" towards the inside of the turn. Remember if there is no speed of the bicycle, perhaps sway will not be needed. Same in Dancing, No Swing, No Sway. Swing is required in Waltz, Slowfox, Quickstep and Viennese Waltz (Swing Dances) therefore Sway will be needed in this category. There is no Swing or Sway in Tango.

SWAY IN WALTZ: Because swing and rise and fall is most pronounced in Waltz, so is Sway. Same is true for Viennese Waltz. Let's go back to the bicyclist. He does not need the sway until he is in the turn and the sway vanishes as the turn is completed. Same exact thing in Waltz (or other swing dances), there is no sway on the first step in the turn. Therefore Sway in Natural Turn in Waltz (step 1 to 6 for man) is, SRR,SLL. You are straight on step 1 (you are just starting the turn). Then the Right Sway will be most pronounced on step 2. It will continue on 3 (less). It will become straight again as step 4 is commenced. Now Men! you are going back and therefore you are on the inside of the turn therefore the center of the turn becomes to your left. You will sway Left on step 5 and 6. Lady's Sway will be just opposite SLL, SRR.

Now let me say this, I want to be as natural as possible and don't want to dance the technique book. As I finish step 1, I would have already started to sway just a little. I also don't feel the sway as much on the back steps. I would think the backswing is not as strong as the forward, therefore sway feels less. Let me know if you disagree.

Now it would be just as ugly to sway too much as not to sway at all. If we just walk our Waltz and not swing, then sway will also not be needed, but that's not Waltz? or is it?

Figurative Sway: I am sure now someone would say, "Turn is not always necessary for Sway." This kind of sway is used to create an effect. A perfect example will be a Whisk in Waltz, swaying left at the end, SLL. There are other examples such as feather step and the reverse wave in foxtrot.

OVERSWAY: These are Picture Steps and we are creating a nice Picture or Line and this Sway (or really sometimes no sway) is purely decorative and has nothing to do with the turn.

BROKEN SWAY: As Sway is needed, there is a gentle inclination of the body from ankles up. In some figures it feels natural to incline the upper body (waist up) only. This is "Broken Sway." I feel it most commonly when doing Change of Direction in Slofox (SLS) or a hesitation change in Waltz (SRR.SLL ).

VIENNESE WALTZ SWAY: This could be interesting when you keep the sway from the previous step (step 3) and transition to 2nd bar of music. You know what I mean.

JUDGE'S SWAY: We all know about that, Don't we?

NO SWAY: There is no sway in Pivots, Spins, Chasses and Lock Steps. I remember taking a coaching lesson with Valerie Houseman and I have always remembered that, how she had made it so clear.

Please forgive me if I don't understand it well and send me your wishes, Next letter on CBM vs CBMP...Sincerely, Max

Mr. Ruud Vermeij of Team Amsterdam is now Dr. Ruud Vermeij. How about that! A Ph.D., Doctor of Philosophy in Dancing. I think his book "Latin, Thinking Sensing and Doing" is a classic work on which his doctorate is based. If you would like to order this book or congratulate him, contact him at

Questions and comments to, thank you.

This article is part of and should be seen in the frame context of Dancesport UK, Tid-bits