One foot – two feet, the PLANE truth By Barry Gasson

old_airplane

It is generally accepted that the Ballroom Dancer lowers from an elevated position with the body held in a vertical line. That is certainly correct when the feet are together as in the third step of a waltz swing, which culminates in a foot closure at peak of rise.

This could be equated to a helicopter landing, straight down in a vertical line with all forward momentum lost.

A fixed wing plane, lands with forward momentum and a decreasing angle to the ground, which has a similarity to the lowering action of the dancer when the feet are apart.

Get over your foot!

We often hear teachers and coaches exhorting their pupils to “Get over your foot!” or “Take your weight over the supporting foot!” which, I believe, puts in the mind of the pupil the idea of moving weight from one foot to the other foot. The basic idea of moving from foot to foot is deeply rooted in the psyche of the Ballroom Dancer. A great many pupils, and dare I say teachers, have never been exposed to the principle of ‘One foot, two, feet’.

When the feet are apart, body weight must be held over two feet, and as a general idea, the legs would form a triangular shape. This is generally understood when applied to a forward or backward walk, but it takes on much greater importance when a step is taken in a sideways direction, and particularly in Promenade Position.

Taking as an example, the third step of any Telemark, Open or Closed, or the third step of an Open Impetus Turn, most dancers aim to land on one foot, and even use a sway action towards the moving foot

Here is what should happen in terms of weight distribution.

As an example, the Open Telemark as Man:

  • Step one. Left foot forward. Weight is held on right foot at commencement. One foot.
  • At the halfway point of the stride, weight is held on two feet. At end of stride, one foot.
  • Step two.  Right foot to side.  Weight is held on two feet, then one foot, on which turn is made.
  • Step three. Left foot to side in Promenade Position. Weight is held on two feet. At end of stride, one foot.
Now, the plane truth.

The Open Telemark commences with a vertical lowering action from the previous music bar. Helicopter landing.

At the end of the third step, with feet apart, the lowering action is that of the foot describing a descending angle to the floor. Fixed wing plane landing.

A study of these disparate lowering actions would certainly help to maintain better balance, and would stop lady partners leaving the confines of the man’s right arm and ’reaching’ on her partner.

It could be said that the balance point achieved with feet apart is of greater importance than the balance point achieved on one foot.

 

So, make sure that you understand the plane facts of lowering actions.

 
Contributor
Brigitt Mayer-Karakis is the author of the award winning book "Ballroom Icons", and chief archivist for the WDC Dance History project.
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