Kath McGuire's Saturday 4pm Ballroom Beginners for Spring 2020


Week 1: 18 Jan.2020

Waltz

We did the Natural Turn (but we didn't turn). Don't forget to change your weight on steps 3 and 6. The pattern will be right, side, close or left, side, close (depending on which half of the figure you are doing).

Don't get too wedded to the idea that the right foot goes forward and the left foot goes backwards, because in waltz it is possible for the left to go forward and for the right to go back too. But if you want to practise anything, please practise the Natural Turn box step that we looked at. If you want to try something new, try going forward with the left (then side, close) and then go back with the right (then side, close).

Natural Turn

StepTimingLeaderFollower
11 RF forward, Diag Wall, HT, start turn right LF back, backing Diag Wall, TH, start turn right
22LF side, TRF side, T
33RF closes, THLF closes, TH
41LF back, THRF forward, HT
52RF side, TLF side, T
63 LF closes, Diag Centre, TH RF closes, backing Diag Centre, TH

Jive

We did the basic jive figure. This is called the Fallaway Rock. The steps are really small, almost on the spot. We then did the Change of Place from Right to Left (which starts in closed hold and the follower turns right under their right arm). We also did the Change of Place from Left to Right (when the follower turns left to come back to facing the leader). The leader can then take up hold again and do some more basics.

If you want to practise then work on the basic steps: rock step, triple step, triple step.

Fallaway Rock

StepTimingLeaderFollower
11 (Q)LF back rockRF back rock
22 (Q)transfer to RFtransfer to LF
3-53a4 (QaQ)LRL triple to leftRLR triple to right
6-85a6 (QaQ)RLR triple to rightLRL triple to left

Change of Place from Right to Left

StepTimingLeaderFollower
11 (Q)LF back rockRF back rock
22 (Q)transfer to RFtransfer to LF
3-53a4 (QaQ) LRL triple to left (raise left arm and release right) RLR triple to right (then turn ½ right under right arm)
6-85a6 (QaQ) RLR triple (lower arm after follower has turned) LRL triple back and left, end open

Change of Place from Left to Right

StepTimingLeaderFollower
11 (Q)LF back rockRF back rock
22 (Q)transfer to RFtransfer to LF
3-53a4 (QaQ) LRL triple to left (raise left arm) RLR triple to right (turning your back on partner to turn left under your arm)
6-85a6 (QaQ) RLR triple (lower arm after follower has turned) LRL triple to left


Week 2: 25 Jan.2020

Waltz

We did the Natural Turn from week 1 again (this is a turn to the right that the leader instigates as they are stepping forward with their right leg) but this time we actually turned. We were aiming for about half a turn over the 6 stpes. Though, at the moment, it doesn't really matter.

Leaders: turn your shoulders to your right as you start to turn and this will help your follower to know what's happening.

Followers: try not to sabotage. If your leader wants to turn you, please let them.

Cha Cha

We started basic Cha Cha. The leaders did the forward half to start with (while the followers go backward). Then the leaders did the backward half (with the followers going forward).

The chasse step in Cha is different to Jive. It is ½, ½, 1.

The forward and backward steps are a change of weight and a replacement of weight - not a tap.

Left Forward Basic

StepTimingLeaderFollower
12LF forwardRF back
23transfer to RFtransfer to LF
3-54 & 1LRL chasse to leftRLR chasse to right

Right Back Basic

StepTimingLeaderFollower
12RF backLF forward
23transfer to LFtransfer to RF
3-54 & 1RLR chasse to rightLRL chasse to left

Jive

We recapped the basic Jive (which is called the Fallaway Rock). We took really small steps - really small - nope, smaller than that!

Remember the timing on the triple step (chasse) is ¾, ¼, 1.

The rocks are a change of weight and a replacement of weight - not a tap.

Fallaway Rock

StepTimingLeaderFollower
11 (Q)LF back rockRF back rock
22 (Q)transfer to RFtransfer to LF
3-53a4 (QaQ)LRL triple to leftRLR triple to right
6-85a6 (QaQ)RLR triple to rightLRL triple to left


Week 3: 1 Feb.2020

Quickstep

Quickstep is a ballroom dance. It moves around the room in an anti-clockwise direction. We just started going straight along one wall. We did the forwards and backward basics. The forward basic for the leader is called the Quarter Turn. The backward basic for the leader is called the Progressive Chasse.

Each basic is a slow step (forward or backwards). We then do side-close-side steps, counted quick, quick, slow. The sideways steps are what we call the theatre step; you're up on your toes for the two quicks moving sideways (like getting to your seat in a crowded theatre).

When the leader goes forward with their right leg, they will usually step outside their partner (to their partner's right side) rather than inline (between their partner's feet). Leaders: do whichever is easier. As you get more accomplished, you will step inline when starting with closed feet and outside if your feet are apart.

For both leaders and followers, stand up straight, roll your shoulders back and down, your arms are out and wide. Followers: don't let your right elbow bend back behind your ribcage.

Quarter Turn (Forward Basic)

StepTimingLeaderFollower
1S RF forward, facing Diag Wall, HT, start turn right LF back, backing Diag Wall, TH, start turn right
2QLF side, TRF side, T
3QRF closes, TLF closes, T
4S LF side, backing Diag Centre, TH RF forward, facing Diag Centre, TH

Progressive Chasse (Backward Basic)

StepTimingLeaderFollower
1S RF back, backing Diag Centre, TH, start turn left LF forward, facing Diag Centre, HT, start turn left
2QLF side, TRF side, T
3QRF closes, TLF closes, T
4S LF side, facing Diag Wall, TH RF side, backing Diag Wall, TH

Rumba

Rumba is a Latin dance with a very different feeling to Quickstep. Stand up straight with your weight slightly forward. Your heels are together and your toes are turned out slightly. When you take your step forward, slide the inside edge of the ball of your left foot along the floor and into place. The second step is to transfer your weight back to your right leg. The third step is a side step.

We take the first step on beat 2 of the bar of music. Beat 3 is the replacement. Beat 4 is the side step. Don't move your feet on beat 1, but allow your weight to settle into the hip of the standing leg.

We did some basics and some New Yorks. We then went back to basics. Leaders: it's best to do these in pairs (so you change between New Yorks and basics when you are about to step forward with your left foot).

The free arm, on the New Yorks, can go out to the side or straight up or placed on your hip. Move the arm from the shoulder, elbow, wrist then fingers. Move it as if you are moving through water. Don't just fling your arm off to the side.

Left Forward Basic

StepTimingLeaderFollower
12LF forwardRF back
23transfer to RFtransfer to LF
34,1LF to sideRF to side

Right Back Basic

StepTimingLeaderFollower
12RF backLF forward
23transfer to LFtransfer to RF
34,1RF to sideLF to side

New York to Right (in Counter Promenade Position)

StepTimingLeaderFollower
12 ¼ turn right, LF forward in open CPP ¼ turn left, RF forward in open CPP
23transfer to RFtransfer to LF
34,1 turn to face partner, then LF to left turn to face partner, then RF to right

New York to Left (in Promenade Position)

StepTimingLeaderFollower
12 ¼ turn left, RF forward in open PP ¼ turn right, LF forward in open PP
23transfer to LFtransfer to RF
34,1 turn to face partner, then RF to right turn to face partner, then LF to left


Week 4: 8 Feb.2020

Tango

We did two walks and the Progressive Link. Start by standing slightly offset from your partner (your right toe should point between your partner's feet). Bend your knees slightly and tilt your pelvis up slightly.

Leaders should lead with their frame, donít move the foot first, that will help the follower to know what's happening and to get their feet out of the way.

The Progressive Link gets us into Promenade Position. There are two steps in the Progressive Link which are both counted as quicks. The first step of the next figure is likely to be a slow step forward with the outside leg. We added this on, just to make sure we don't stop after the Progressive Link and turn that quick into a slow.

Leaders: in the Progressive Link your first step is a small step forward and close to your partner's foot. Followers: it is a small step behind your left foot. The second step for both is a small step to the side. The leader will lift their right elbow slightly which will turn the follower into promenade position.

Left Foot Forward Walk

StepTimingLeaderFollower
1SLF forward (HF)RF back (BH)

Right Foot Forward Walk

StepTimingLeaderFollower
1SRF forward (HF)LF back (BH)

Progressive Link

StepTimingLeaderFollower
1QLF forward (H)RF back (BF)
2QRF side to PP (IE)LF side to PP (IE)

Cha Cha

We did the solo turns in both directions, New Yorks and Basics.

We tried to keep our joined hands at around waist level.

When leaders are leading the basic, they will keep hold of both hands. To lead the New York, the leaders will let go of one hand on the chasse step, ready to pull the joind hands through between the couple to make the turn. To lead the spot turn, the leader will release the free hand and instead of keeping hold with the other hand, the leader will turn their hand so the flat of the palm is against the side of their partner's hand. This indicates the turn.

If one person does a New York and the other does a spot turn, then that's ok. You can reconnect when you are facing each other on the chasse steps.

Solo Spot Turn To Left

StepTimingLeaderFollower
12 ¼ turn left, RF forward in open promenade position ¼ turn right, LF forward in open promenade position
23 ½ turn left, transfer weight to LF ¼ turn right, transfer weight to RF
3-54 & 1 Turn to face partner then RLR chasse to right Turn to face partner then LRL chasse to left

Left Forward Basic

StepTimingLeaderFollower
12LF forwardRF back
23transfer to RFtransfer to LF
3-54 & 1LRL chasse to leftRLR chasse to right

Right Back Basic

StepTimingLeaderFollower
12RF backLF forward
23transfer to LFtransfer to RF
3-54 & 1RLR chasse to rightLRL chasse to left

New York to Right (in Counter Promenade Position)

StepTimingLeaderFollower
12 ¼ turn right, LF forward in open CPP ¼ turn left, RF forward in open CPP
23transfer to RFtransfer to LF
3-54 & 1 Turn to face partner then LRL chasse to left Turn to face partner then RLR chasse to right

New York to Left (in Promenade Position)

StepTimingLeaderFollower
12 ¼ turn left, RF forward in open PP ¼ turn right, LF forward in open PP
23transfer to LFtransfer to RF
3-54 & 1 Turn to face partner then RLR chasse to right Turn to face partner then LRL chasse to left


Week 5: 15 Feb.2020

Tango

We did some walking, which sounds really easy but does take a bit of practice. Leaders should lead with their chest and frame. Followers shouldn't let their right arm collapse behind their rib cage. Followers should take steps backwards that are as big as they can comfortably do.

We did the Progressive Link (as per last week) which is two quick steps. These should be smaller than the walks. For the leaders, the first step should be forward, almost trying to step on your partner's foot (they will have moved it out of the way). Followers: your step backwards is almost behind your left leg. The side step is really quite small. You're now in promenade position. The leader leads this by lifting their right elbow about a centimetre, which will turn the follower's body.

From here we did the Closed Promenade (which is slow, quick, quick, slow). The first step is forward with the front leg. The second is bringing the back leg forward between the two of you. The third step is a sideways step - this is small for the leaders and a bit bigger for the followers. The leader will close the follower and bring them in front. On the fourth step both dancers close their feet.

We can repeat this whole sequence and curve around the room as we go. The leader can do as many walks as they want to (though make it an even number so that the next step is with the leader's left).

Closed Promenade

StepTimingLeaderFollower
1SLF side in PP (H)RF side in PP (H)
2QRF across (H)LF across (H)
3QLF side (IE)RF side (IE BH)
4SRF close (whole foot)LF close (whole foot)

Jive

We recapped the basic (Fallaway Rock) and the turn (Change of Place Right to Left and then Change of Place Left to Right). We did it to some slower music and to some faster music. Leaders need to remember to keep their footwork going throughout the turns. Followers need to turn between their triple steps. For everyone: make your triple steps really small.

See the figures from week 1.


Week 6: 22 Feb.2020

Quickstep

We did the forward and backward basics and curved them round the room. The basic where the leader goes forward is the Quarter Turn. The basic where the leader goes backward is the Progressive Chasse.

Each basic is a slow step (forward or backwards). We then do side-close-side steps, counted quick, quick, slow. The sideways steps are what we call the theatre step; you're up on your toes for the two quicks moving sideways (like getting to your seat in a crowded theatre). You then lower gently on the slow step.

Leaders: when curving round the room, think of turning sooner rather than later. On your backward step start to turn to your left as you chasse and take small steps - your follower will take bigger steps to get around you.

Leaders: your first step is probably in line with your partner, but after that, your forward step with your right leg is probably outside your partner (on their right side).

Leaders: remember that your follower is in your right arm. And it is YOUR right arm. If you don't want your partner to drift behind you, then don't put them there. This sounds really easy, is a little harder in practice, but if you are aware of it, you'll probably find you start to do it automatically.

Rumba

We recapped the basic (forward then backward for the leader) from week 3. We did New Yorks to both sides. We also did the Spot Turns.

Leaders: if you're not sure what to do, then you might like this sequence: Forward Basic, Back Basic, three New Yorks, Spot Turn. You can then go back into closed hold and start again.

It is possible to do different numbers of basics, New Yorks and turns; but it is easier to change to a new figure when the leader goes forward. If you only do two New Yorks then a Spot turn in that direction, the leader will need to do a Back Basic to get back into hold, or a Spot Turn the other way

If leaders want to lead the New Yorks then the leader should hold onto the joined hand. If the leader wants to lead a Spot Turn then use the palm of your hand on the side of your partner's hand - don't take their hand then throw it away.

Don't forget to take the first step on beat 2 of the bar. The replacement step is beat 3, the side step is beat 4. On beat 1 of the music, don't move your feet, but allow your weight to settle into the hip.

While you're learning to dance, don't worry overmuch about whether you're starting on beat 2 (or 1 or 3 or 4) but please try and get four beats into each bar.

Spot Turn (to Leader's Left and Follower's Right)

StepTimingLeaderFollower
12 ¼ turn left, RF forward in open PP ¼ turn right, LF forward in open PP
23 ½ turn left, transfer to LF ½ turn right, transfer to RF
34,1 turn to face partner, then RF to right turn to face partner, then LF to left


Week 7: 29 Feb.2020

Tango

We recapped the Tango from weeks 4 & 5: Walks, Progressive Link, Closed Promenade.

The walks are forward. Pick your feet up but not very high.

The first step in the Progressive Link is smaller than the walks and is a quick step. The side step is onto the inside edge of the foot (for both leaders and followers). It is also a small step.

Leaders: on the side step you are going to lead your partner to move into Promenade Position. Lift your right elbow very slightly and apply gentle pressure with the heel of your right hand. Followers: your head will now turn to the right.

The first step of the Closed Promenade is forward for both of you. It's a slow step. The next step is a quick as you bring the leg closest to your partner forward. The next step is a quick step to the side. Leaders: your step needs to be quite small and you need to use your right arm to lead your partner to step sideways in front of you. Followers: your side step will be bigger as you are going around your partner. The final step is a slow step as you both close your feet. You're now ready to start again.

Jive

The Change of Hands Behind the Back follows the same basic footwork pattern: rock step, triple step, triple step.

Leaders: On the first rock step, bring your right hand over your left hand and take your partner's hand in your right. The first triple step is forward but turning to your left, pass your partner's hand from your right hand to your left behind your back. The second triple step completes the turn and is done facing your partner.

Followers: Your partner changes the hand hold on the rock step, so you know what's going to happen next. Your first triple step is forward and turning to your right, keep facing your partner's back. Your second triple turns a little more so that you're now face to face with your partner.

Change of Hands Behind the Back

StepTimingLeaderFollower
11 (Q)LF back rockRF back rock
22 (Q) transfer to RF, take your partner's right hand in your right transfer to LF
3-53a4 (QaQ) LRL triple forward whilst turning slightly left,
change your partner's right hand back to your left
RLR triple forward whilst turning slightly right,
facing your partner's back
6-85a6 (QaQ) RLR triple to right whilst continuing to turn left LRL triple to left whilst continuing to turn right


Week 8: 7 Mar.2020

Waltz

We recapped the Natural Turn (from week 1) and aimed for three quarters of a turn to the right. We also did Closed Change Steps (forward for the leader and backward for the follower) down each wall and then the Natural Turn in each corner.

We added in the Reverse Turn. Which is a turn to the left when the leader is going forward with their left foot. This is also about three quarters of a turn. We started the Reverse Turn when the leader was facing diagonally into the centre of the room so that three quarters of a turn finishes with the leader facing diagonal to the wall. We used the Closed Changes to fix our alignment.

Reverse Turn

StepTimingLeaderFollower
11 LF forward, Diag Centre, HT, start turn left RF back, backing Diag Centre, TH, start turn left
22RF side, TLF side, T
33LF closes, THRF closes, TH
41RF back, THLF forward, HT
52LF side, TRF side, T
63 LF closes, Diag Wall, TH RF closes, backing Diag Wall, TH

Jive

We did some Jive. The figures we had done previously (eg week 1) include the basic (Fallaway Rock), the Change of Places Right to Left (the underarm turn for the follower) and the Change of Places Left to Right (turning back to face your partner). We also did the Change of Hands Behind The Back (from week 7).


Kath McGuire - Associate UKA Ballroom - dance@kathmcguire.co.uk