"Dancing Tid-bits" Issue #61, Thursday, July 26, 2001

Dancing Tid-bits
Fan to Hockeystick.

I don't know about other teachers but I feel that the Fan and Hockeystick in Rumba and Cha Cha seem to be the most difficult things to teach. I am talking about the beginner and bronze level students. I also say that if a student develops a clear understanding of these two rather difficult movements, he or she is ready for more advanced work otherwise not.

The ISTD or IDTA syllabus puts these steps right after the Basic Movement. I guess there are other steps such as New York, Hand to Hand, Spot turns, etc., that seem to be easier and I rather teach those if I am teaching a random onetime class.

What is Fan?..First it is important to tell the students that Fan is simply when you place the lady to your left side. Take a student and without much fuss, place her to your left side. Tell them: "you know it's like a Chinese fan, your bodies are at right angles to each other and the arc is the outer edge of the fan." I think it is important to help students to conceptualize.

How do we do it: Start with 1 to 3 of basic movement? At this stage I do not talk about 1/8 and 1/4 turn etc. Just do it. Now into Fan position. Lady goes forward-side-back (LRL) making a turn to left while man does the 4 to 6 (RLR) of Basic movement. How she turns, I save the details for later.

HOCKEYSTICK: In the beginning I even brought a Fan and Hockeystick with me, if not you can at least draw chalk lines.

Lady: She closes right to left foot on step 1 (count 2) then steps forward left foot on step 2 (count 3) and RF forward on step 3 (count 41). This I find the most difficult thing for Ladies to do but I tell them they better get used to it now. Now comes the curve of the hockeystick to left. She should step forward left (count 2) and then forward right foot (count 3) making slight turn to left. This is the curve of the hockeystick. Now she turns to left almost 180 degree on right foot (count & ) and steps back for step 6 (count 41). Start another Fan and Hockeystick ad lib from this position and this is good homework.

Some ladies think that closing right foot to left foot is always the rule even outside the fan position. They must realize that if man stepped forward (RF) on the preceding step, it is only natural for her to step back (RF) for the following basic.

Man: From Fan position he simply dances a forward basic movement 1 to 3 (LRL) but will close his left foot to right foot on step 3 (count 41). It looks better if he closes it slightly back and then the he does 4 to 6 of basic (RLR) stepping forward on right foot on step 6 (count 41).

This, they do a million times at their own, in about ten minutes and then I put them together with proper hold and tell them to do it with Lead and Follow, and now things fall apart. It is amazing how easy it is to dance by yourself. I keep repeating this exercise at the beginning of each class for about 4 weeks at which time most students get a good grasp of this very complicated but very basic movement. They are now ready for a very basic choreographed routine to include these two figures.

Another argument of course can be made that it is better to start them together in proper hold and soon they will be OK having done it a few times. That works too but then Ladies will not be able to show what they do by themselves independently. Actually they always tend to turn too soon and in the opposite direction.

Best wishes....Max

Questions and comments to Dancemax@aol.com, thank you.

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