"Dancing Tid-bits" Issue #59, Thursday, July 12, 2001
Waltz 2nd step
I enjoy reading your articles. They have been very helpful. My partner and I are struggling with the waltz change step. The second step is presenting the biggest problem. The "Ballroom Technique Book"says that the second step should be taken side and slightly forward. My partner seems to think that the second step (his forward, mine backwards) should be the largest step he can possibly take. His position is that all top dancers take the largest possible steps and that is what he wants to do. I am having trouble at times matching his stride. My question is this - Should we be striving to make each step the largest possible? Is the distance we travel really that important?? Thanks! Dianne Wesley...
Reply: Very interesting question Dianne and it is just this kind of stuff that dancing tid-bits is all about. We will discuss Man's step, Ladies reciprocate. First let me be a little picky-picky. The technique does not use the word "take" the second step to side and slightly forward. It simply says that step 2 is "to side and slightly forward." Actually both, the 1st and the 2nd step move forward. It would be misleading to say that you "take a step to side." This of course is very confusing to every student in the beginning and they tend to go sideways rather than forward. It is important to note that the foot positions in technique book are the positions at the "end of the step." The 2nd step does indeed move a whole lot forward but ends up only "slightly forward relative to the other foot." This is where teacher's role is to tell the student how and which direction to move so that you are there at the end of the step.
I agree with your partner that perhaps it is the longest step. It is also important to keep the swing otherwise a step taken strictly to side will impede progress and kill flight. Life becomes easier and dance more advanced if you make a slight turn on the closed changes. Underturn slightly on 2 bars and then make up the turn on the closed change. Actually sometimes you may look at it like this way, that closed change is the continuation of reverse or natural turn except that on closed change you turn only very slightly (definitely less than 1/8).
I think your partner is trying to swing forward which is the right thing to do. Don't think sideways, just fly with him.
Now talking about long steps, another devil..! This has to do with Swing and Body Flight. If you use your rise and fall and develop more swing, the body will fly and your steps will become automatically long and yes! that is the beauty of these swing dances. So I would say work on your swing and body movement and every thing will fall in place. There will be problems if you try to take long steps (just because the champions do) but not swing enough. Hope all this helps. Any comments?
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