"Dancing Tid-bits" Issue #77, Thursday, Nov 22, 2001
Foxtrot; A Lesson with Kathryn Schaefer
A few weeks ago I had the wonderful opportunity to attend a group session
with Kathryn Schaefer at the Dancesport Academy of Michigan in Dearborn. She,
as you know, was a US Standard Champion with Victor Verassyet in the recent
past. I believe that in a group even if you walk out with one pearl, it is
worth it. I picked the following.
How do you train a Lady for Heel Turns: I guess, there is so much "myth" about the Heel Turns in SFT, how much of that is "hype," I don't know. Heel turns are no different from any other turns, 3 steps with an open ending. It just happens that the Man rushes a little bit, cuts the lady off with an early rise which makes the lady close her second step (instead of stepping to the side) and then step forward in line with the man on the 3rd step. I think it is as simple as that. I believe it is the Man who makes the Lady do a Heel Turn and unless he is a strong Leader, this is a formidable task for the Lady.
I felt sympathetic to Kathryn when she wished to teach the whole thing, the Technique, the Choreography and the little things to a "beginner" group in 1 hour. I was getting a little skeptical but really I was astonished that at the end of the hour she had presented a very balanced lesson and quite a few students were able to battle with the heel turns and the whole dance when she left the music on.
The most interesting part was how she introduced the Heel Turns.
Exercise. Don't Turn, Just Get a Hang of Foot Closure on the 2nd step. All Face the wall, Step back with RF, Close LF to RF and transfer Weight, Rise and then step forward RF. I like to add 1 more thing here. It helps to tell the ladies "Whatever goes back, comes Forward, I mean the Foot. Just say, RF back, RF forward.
We then, repeated the exercise with LF back, Close RF to LF and step forward with LF.
She then simply added turn and people got a good hang of this most exotic movement within a matter of few minutes.
I am planning to use this exercise at a very early stage to my students, not even telling them that we will work on SFT. Then each time a little more and start adding the turn and soon they will know that a little more than 1/4 is 3/8 turn. The alignments will become a habit soon but all this will take time, you can't learn all this in 1 day.
Best Wishes for a very "Happy Thanksgiving", My oven is beginning to smoke and I can feel the smell, so Good Bye...Max
Questions and comments to Dancemax@aol.com, thank you.