Kath McGuire's Technique Classes for Spring 2020


4 January 2020

Leader

Have a plan
Leaders, it sounds obvious but it is important (in Ballroom and in Latin) to have a plan. This means knowing what figure you'd like to do next, how to transition into that figure and how to lead the follower to complete the figure that you're currently dancing. Don't worry, this does get easier with practice!

Ballroom frame
Stand up nice and straight, shoulders back and down. Lift your arms as if you're holding the world's biggest beach ball - there'll be a nice slope from your shoulders down to your elbows. You can now bend your arms at your elbows to take hold. If you're dancing with someone much shorter than you, don't bend forward or let your frame sag.

Ballroom turns
According to the technique books, the Natural Turn in the ballroom starts with the leader facing diagonal to wall, the couple turns three quarters of a turn to the right and the turn ends with the leader facing diagonal to centre. (The Reverse Turn is three quarters of a turn to the left.) It is useful to know this. However, there may be times when you want to change this. You should know before you start turning how much turn you want to make. You will need to rotate your upper body to lead your follower to turn. You can't just take your first step forward and then try to leap sideways around your follower. Start to rotate as you're taking the first step and continue the rotation on the following steps.

Open hold leading in Latin
Your centre of mass is roughly around the height of your belly button. The same is true for your follower. When leading in left-to-right hand hold, make sure that your arm is describing a line from the height of your belly button to the height of your partner's belly button. Keep your elbow quite close to your body (not stuck to your waist but quite close). Using this line will help you to transder signals to your partner with much less effort and much more clarity.

Signal and noise
Leading is a combination of a lot of physical signals and visual cues. Raising your arm will usually result in the follower turning under it. Leading can be very slight and very subtle. It is easier to make it clear if you are not doing lots of extra movements (don't bounce your arms up and down while you're dancing as your follower won't know which bit is bounce and which bit is a signal to turn). You want lots of signal and not a lot of noise! This doesn't, however, mean you should be rigid and sterile while dancing.

Latin posture
Stand upright (pretend you are 6 inches taller than you are). Keep your heels together and turn your toes out so there is an angle of about 45 degrees between your feet. Lean slightly forward - your weight should be over the balls of your feet. It should be possible to slide a single sheet of paper underneath your heels.

Follower

Being a light follower
In both Latin and Ballroom, being a light follower makes things easier for the leader. Being light has nothing to do with body weight; it's about how easy it is for the leader to lead the follower. One way to be lighter on your feet is to make sure you're standing up nice and tall, lift your upper body off your waist and engage your core. Don't slump.

Ballroom frame
Stand up nice and straight, shoulders back and down. Lift your arms as if you're holding the world's biggest beach ball - there'll be a nice slope from your shoulders down to your elbows. You can now bend your arms at your elbows to take hold. Make sure your right elbow doesn't get pushed back behind your rib cage. Keep some tension in your right arm to keep the frame.

Ballroom turns
According to the technique books, the Natural Turn in the ballroom starts with the follower backing diagonal to wall, the couple turns three quarters of a turn to the right and the turn ends with the follower backing diagonal to centre. (The Reverse Turn is three quarters of a turn to the left.) It is useful to know this. However, sometimes the leader may want to turn more or less. So don't force the leader to turn the amount you think they should turn; let them lead you.

Open hold leading in Latin
A lot of leading in Rumba and Cha Cha is in open hold with the leader's left hand and your right hand. Keep your elbow in close to your body (not stuck to your waist). Keep some tension in your arm to maintain the connection between you. That will make it easier for your partner to lead you. Try not to lift up the joined hands.

Signal and noise
Leading is a combination of a lot of physical signals and visual cues. When the leader raises their arm it is usually because they want you to turn under it. Leading can be very slight and very subtle. It is easier to notice these movements if you are not doing lots of extra movements (don't bounce your arms up and down while you're dancing as you may not notice when your partner is trying to lead you to turn). This doesn't, however, mean you should be rigid and sterile while dancing.

Latin posture
Stand upright (pretend you are 6 inches taller than you are). Keep your heels together and turn your toes out so there is an angle of about 45 degrees between your feet. Lean slightly forward - your weight should be over the balls of your feet. It should be possible to slide a single sheet of paper underneath your heels.


11 January 2020

Leader

Parallel shoulders in Cha-Cha
On the chasse steps in Cha Cha in the basic and between New Yorks or Hand to Hands, make sure you are facing your partner and your shoulders are parallel to your partner's shoulders.

Hand signal to lead a Hand to Hand in Cha Cha
When you are leading a hand to hand (whether from a double hand hold or a left to right hand hold, or having just done an underarm turn or a spot turn), you will hold onto the hand closest to your partner. You may then push away with the other hand to encourage your partner to open out and step backwards. If you are going to do this, it is better to do it with a flat hand (and then push) rather than with a normal hand hold where you then throw your partner's hand away. If you do it from a normal hand hold, you might pull slightly towards you before throwing away - which may confuse the follower.

Forward ballroom walks
Stand up straight and tall with the legs straight (but the knees are slightly soft and not locked). Bend the standing leg as you swing your free leg forward from the hip. Use a heel lead when stepping forward, don't push the toe along the floor. The heel stays in contact with the floor as you move. Take a nice big long stride forward. But do make sure you are leading your partner with your chest, shoulders and frame, rather than just sticking your foot forward, as this will help the follower to take a long stride backwards. Remember that striding backwards is harder and stride lengths tend to be shorter for all of us when we go backwards. So be aware of your follower and be considerate - encourage them to take nice big steps but don't push them over or tread on them.

Backward ballroom walks
Leaders don't often walk backwards but it does happen, so you want to practise it and feel comfortable doing it. Plus, if you understand what it feels like for you, you'll have a greater understanding of what your partner is going through when they're going backwards. Bend the standing leg and swing the free leg back from the hip. The toe will stay in contact with the floor. Really get your leg back away from you. Release the toe of the front foot from the floor as you drag that foot backwards. The toe release will keep your knee nicely out of your partner's way and will help you keep the speed of the movement going (as dragging the toe along the floor acts like a brake and really slows you down).

Follower

Parallel shoulders in Cha-Cha
On the chasse steps in Cha Cha in the basic and between New Yorks or Hand to Hands, make sure you are facing your partner and your shoulders are parallel to your partner's shoulders. Don't assume that after one New York there must be a second New York; so don't start to turn your body during the chasse.

Backward ballroom walks
Bend your standing leg and swing your free leg back from the hip. The toe stays in contact with the floor as you swing it backwards. Really stretch it out behind you and take the biggest stride you feel comfortable taking. Release the toe of the front foot from the floor as you drag that foot backwards. The toe release will keep your knee nicely out of your partner's way and will help you keep the speed of the movement going (as dragging the toe along the floor acts like a brake and really slows you down).

Forward ballroom walks
The follower spends more time going backwards than going forwards, but sometimes you will go forward so it's a good thing to practise. When the leader is walking backwards and you are walking forwards, you don't become the leader but you do have to drive the movement in the way that a leader does when they go forward. So don't be hesitant; don't be afraid to drive forward. Take big strides and use your frame to create your space. Bend the standing leg as you swing your free leg forward from the hip. Use a heel lead when stepping forward, don't push the toe along the floor. The heel stays in contact with the floor as you move. Take a nice big long stride forward. Do remember that leaders rarely go backwards and some may be really hesitant, so don't drive too much!


26 January 2020

Leader

Forward ballroom walks
Stand up straight and tall with the legs straight (but the knees are slightly soft and not locked). Bend the standing leg as you swing your free leg forward from the hip. Use a heel lead when stepping forward, don't push the toe along the floor. The heel stays in contact with the floor as you move. Take a nice big long stride forward. But do make sure you are leading your partner with your chest, shoulders and frame, rather than just sticking your foot forward, as this will help the follower to take a long stride backwards. Remember that striding backwards is harder and stride lengths tend to be shorter for all of us when we go backwards. So be aware of your follower and be considerate - encourage them to take nice big steps but don't push them over or tread on them.

Latin posture
Stand upright (pretend you are 6 inches taller than you are). Keep your heels together and turn your toes out so there is an angle of about 45 degrees between your feet. Lean slightly forward - your weight should be over the balls of your feet. It should be possible to slide a single sheet of paper underneath your heels.

Ballroom frame
Stand up nice and straight, shoulders back and down. Lift your arms as if you're holding the world's biggest beach ball - there'll be a nice slope from your shoulders down to your elbows. You can now bend your arms at your elbows to take hold. If you're dancing with someone much shorter than you, don't bend forward or let your frame sag.

Heel Turns for the follower
Your first step as a leader will initiate the turn. Make sure you're getting enough turn between steps one and two. On step two, think about rotating your partner and not letting them move backwards or sideways. There is a very small amount of rotation on step three, but don't think about that; think about stepping straight backwards and allowing your partner to step between your feet. If you keep turning then your back step is likely to be more like it's inline with the front foot, which means your partner will be pulled off balance or will trip over your foot.

Follower

Backward ballroom walks
Bend your standing leg and swing your free leg back from the hip. The toe stays in contact with the floor as you swing it backwards. Really stretch it out behind you and take the biggest stride you feel comfortable taking. Release the toe of the front foot from the floor as you drag that foot backwards. The toe release will keep your knee nicely out of your partner's way and will help you keep the speed of the movement going (as dragging the toe along the floor acts like a brake and really slows you down).

Latin posture
Stand upright (pretend you are 6 inches taller than you are). Keep your heels together and turn your toes out so there is an angle of about 45 degrees between your feet. Lean slightly forward - your weight should be over the balls of your feet. It should be possible to slide a single sheet of paper underneath your heels.

Ballroom frame
Stand up nice and straight, shoulders back and down. Lift your arms as if you're holding the world's biggest beach ball - there'll be a nice slope from your shoulders down to your elbows. You can now bend your arms at your elbows to take hold. Make sure your right elbow doesn't get pushed back behind your rib cage. Keep some tension in your right arm to keep the frame.

Heel Turns for the follower
The first step is a step backwards. On the second step, you'll feel that the leader doesn't want you to step backwards or sideways, they want you to turn, so close your feet and do your heel turn. The turn is made on the heel of the standing foot. The toe of the standing foot isn't raised off the floor but there is no weight on it - allowing it to move. The heel of the free leg also has no weight on it. The toe of the free leg will have very slight pressure, allowing you to keep your heels together and to let you turn without bending your knees or at the waist. You'll rise at the end of step two and step forward with your toe into step three. This will be between your partner's feet.


15 February 2020

Leader

Have a plan
Leaders, it sounds obvious but it is important (in Ballroom and in Latin) to have a plan. This means knowing what figure you'd like to do next, how to transition into that figure and how to lead the follower to complete the figure that you're currently dancing. Don't worry, this does get easier with practice!

Ballroom turns
According to the technique books, the Natural Turn in the ballroom starts with the leader facing diagonal to wall, the couple turns three quarters of a turn to the right and the turn ends with the leader facing diagonal to centre. (The Reverse Turn is three quarters of a turn to the left.) It is useful to know this. However, there may be times when you want to change this. You should know before you start turning how much turn you want to make. You will need to rotate your upper body to lead your follower to turn. You can't just take your first step forward and then try to leap sideways around your follower. Start to rotate as you're taking the first step and continue the rotation on the following steps.

Stand up straight
Stand up straight when you dance. Either in Latin or in Ballroom. Be six inches taller than you are. Roll your shoulders back and down. This should open up your chest cavity allowing your lungs lots of room to expand. Breathing really is important! When you stand up straight, engage your core; you should feel your torso lifting up off your hips. This will make it easier for your legs to move more freely; it will make you a lighter dancer.

Leading the Hockey Stick or Alemana from Fan (Rumba)
The steps on beats 2 and 3 are the same whether you are doing the Alemana or the Hockey Stick. On step 2, lead your partner to close their feet, by giving slight pressure with your left hand. Keep the joined hands at waist level. On beat 3 you can start to raise your arm, it should be in the correct position on beat 4.

If you are leading the Hockey Stick then your forearm will be above your head and your fingers pointing to your right, your thumb will be on the back of your partner's hand. If you are leading the Alemana then your left palm will be towards your partner, stopping them from continuing forward. If you're getting enough tension from your partner, you may find that they have turned very slightly towards you.

On beat 1, you wait in that position.

In the Hockey Stick, the follower will walk forward on beats 2 and 3; only turn them between beats 3 and 4. You do a normal back basic here, but make sure you are close enough to your partner. In the Alemana, your hand will be slightly above your partner's head (they need to turn under their own arm without having to duck). Provide some responsive tension so that they can push off your left hand to help them with their turn. You can help this slightly, but please do not stir your partner.

Follower

Being a light follower
In both Latin and Ballroom, being a light follower makes things easier for the leader. Being light has nothing to do with body weight; it's about how easy it is for the leader to lead the follower. One way to be lighter on your feet is to make sure you're standing up nice and tall, lift your upper body off your waist and engage your core.

Ballroom turns
According to the technique books, the Natural Turn in the ballroom starts with the follower backing diagonal to wall, the couple turns three quarters of a turn to the right and the turn ends with the follower backing diagonal to centre. (The Reverse Turn is three quarters of a turn to the left.) It is useful to know this. However, sometimes the leader may want to turn more or less. So don't force the leader to turn the amount you think they should turn; let them lead you.

Stand up straight
Stand up straight when you dance. Either in Latin or in Ballroom. Be six inches taller than you are. Roll your shoulders back and down. This should open up your chest cavity allowing your lungs lots of room to expand. Breathing really is important! When you stand up straight, engage your core; you should feel your torso lifting up off your hips. This will make it easier for your legs to move more freely; it will make you a lighter dancer.

Dancing the Hockey Stick or Alemana from Fan (Rumba)
On beat 2 from the fan position you will close your feet. If you step back, the world won't end, but you shouldn't have enough space to step back, so the closing will be easier; plus the change of weight here can look quite good so it's worth practicing this. Beats 3 and 4 are steps forward. Don't go past your partner, because you don't yet know if it's a Hockey Stick or an Alemana.

If it's a Hockey Stick, your right arm will be in front of you (palm facing forward), you should be able to turn to your right and see your partner's face framed by their arm. If it's an Alemana then they will have stopped you and your right arm will be just above your head. You may have turned very slightly to your right towards your partner at this point. Keep tone in your right arm, don't let it fall behind your body - that will hurt.

On beat 1 you will wait in that position.

On the Hockey Stick, your next two steps are forwards but make them small. You'll turn between beats 3 and 4 and beat 4 is a step backwards. Keep tone in your right arm and keep it at waist level.

To make a swift Alemana Turn, use your right hand to apply pressure to your partner's hand, this will help you get the momentum you need to make the turn. Stand up straight, you need a strong and engaged core. Move your left foot into position quickly and then transfer your weight. Make the turns sharp. If you are taller than your leader, then you may need to let go of your right arm; never duck to get underneath it - that will cause your core to collapse which will make the turn much harder.


22 February 2020

Leader

Open hold leading in Latin
Your centre of mass is roughly around the height of your belly button and the same is true for your follower. When leading in left-to-right hand hold, make sure that your arm is describing a line from the height of your belly button to the height of your partner's belly button. Keep your elbow quite close to your body (not stuck to your waist but quite close). Using this line will help you to transfer signals to your partner with much less effort and much more clarity.

Tone in the arm
In Latin, keep tone in your left arm when leading your partner. When you are walking forward (for example in the progressive Rumba walks) then lean forward and drive your partner. Don't push them agressively, but you almost certainly need more drive than you are currently using.

Quickstep Rise and Fall
On the Quarter Turn and the Progressive Chasses (the forward and backward basics) in Quickstep, the rise and fall is really important. The first slow step forwards is a heel lead for the leader (you can't step backward onto a heel, your step backwards is with your toe). The two quick steps are up on your toes (for both leaders and followers). The final slow step is when you both lower gently from the toe to the whole foot. The leaders should lead the rise and fall, followers shouldn't sabotage it.

Quickstep Forward Lockstep
The first step is a heel lead. The two quick steps are on your toes, the final slow step is a toe that then lowers gently. The lockstep will travel diagonal to wall. It doesn't travel sideways along line of dance. Your body will be turned slightly so that you are almost facing the wall, but your movement is diagonal to wall. The first step is a big, travelling step. So is the second one. The third step is where your right leg will cross behind your left before you take another big step forward as a slow.

Follower

Open hold leading in Latin
A lot of leading in Rumba and Cha Cha is in open hold with the leader's left hand and your right hand. Keep your elbow in close to your body (not stuck to your waist), that will make it easier for your partner to lead you. Try not to lift up the joined hands.

Tone in the arm
In Latin, keep tone in your right arm when your partner is leading you. When you are walking backward (for example in the progressive Rumba walks) then lean forward and resist your partner. They want you to move, but make them work for it.

Quickstep Rise and Fall
On the Quarter Turn and the Progressive Chasses (the forward and backward basics) in Quickstep, the rise and fall is really important. The first slow step on a forwards figure is a heel lead (you can't step backward onto a heel, your step backwards is with your toe). The two quick steps are up on your toes (for both leaders and followers). The final slow step is when you both lower gently from the toe to the whole foot. The leaders should lead the rise and fall, followers shouldn't sabotage it.

Quickstep Forward Lockstep
Since the figures are named from the point of view of the leader, this is a backwards lockstep for the followers. Keep your head to the left - it is almost impossible to do this figure if you turn your head as you'll lose your balance and trip. Keep tone in your right arm, so that your elbow doesn't collapse behind your rib cage. The first step is a slow step, it's quite a big step backwards. The second and third steps are up on your toes, the fourth step is on the toe and then lowers gently.


23 February 2020

Leader

Quickstep Backward Lockstep and Running Finish
Your shoulders are really important in this sequence. On your Backward Lockstep, your right shoulder is back allowing your follower the space to do their forward lock beside you. Ideally, at the end of the lock you want the follower to be almost level with you - don't cut in front of them or block them.

The timing in the Running Finish can be either QQS or SQQ. It's up to you. The first step of the Running Finish is back on your toe, don't lower to your heel, because you'll collapse backwards and pull you (and your partner) off balance. Step 2 is a sideways (and forwards) step - bring your partner with you by turning your shoulders. The third step is a forward step, make sure your left shoulder is forward. As you come up onto your toe on step one of the Running Finish, bring your follower up with you, it will help them to be lighter and will make it easier for you to get the rotation you need.

Tango Walks
In Tango, our feet are twisted slightly to the left so that the ball of your right foot nestles into the arch of your left foot. The forward walk with your left foot will go almost in line with your right. Your right walk forward will not be in line but will be to the right of your left foot.

Follower

Quickstep Backward Lockstep and Running Finish
Shoulders are important in this sequence. Don't allow your right elbow to collapse, keep your shoulders turned towards your partner - this will help you to not end up dancing in their armpit.

When your partner is doing their Backward Lockstep, they'll be giving you lots of space in which to do your forward lockstep. Use that space, drive into it, don't hold back. Your left shoulder will be forward. On the third step of the Running Finish your right shoulder will be back.

Tango Walks
In Tango, our feet are twisted slightly to the left so that the ball of your right foot nestles into the arch of your left foot. The backward walk with your right foot will go almost in line with your left. Your left foot walk backwards will not be in line but will be to the left of your right foot.


29 February 2020

Leader

Ballroom frame
Stand up nice and straight, shoulders back and down. Lift your arms as if you're holding the world's biggest beach ball - there'll be a nice slope from your shoulders down to your elbows. You can now bend your arms at your elbows to take hold. If you're dancing with someone much shorter than you, don't bend forward or let your frame sag.

Tango Walks
In Tango, our feet are twisted slightly to the left so that the ball of your right foot nestles into the arch of your left foot. The forward walk with your left foot will go almost in line with your right. Your right walk forward will not be in line but will be to the right of your left foot.

Forward ballroom walks
Stand up straight and tall with the legs straight (but the knees are slightly soft and not locked). Bend the standing leg as you swing your free leg forward from the hip. Use a heel lead when stepping forward, don't push the toe along the floor. The heel stays in contact with the floor as you move. Take a nice big long stride forward. But do make sure you are leading your partner with your chest, shoulders and frame, rather than just sticking your foot forward. This will help the follower to take a long stride backwards. Remember that striding backwards is harder and stride lengths tend to be shorter for all of us when we go backwards. So be aware of your follower and be considerate - encourage them to take nice big steps but don't push them over or tread on them.

Signal and noise
Leading is a combination of a lot of physical signals and visual cues. Raising your arm will usually result in the follower turning under it. Leading can be very slight and very subtle. It is easier to make it clear if you are not doing lots of extra movements (don't bounce your arms up and down while you're dancing as your follower won't know which bit is bounce and which bit is a signal to turn). You want lots of signal and not a lot of noise! This doesn't, however, mean you should be rigid and sterile while dancing.

Progressive Link in Tango
Both steps are quick steps. Please move on to the slow step that comes next (the first step of the next figure) straight away rather than hanging about. Both steps are quite small. The first step is forward in line with your left foot, the second step is on the inside edge of the foot. On the second step you're going to move your partner into Promenade Position. Raise your right elbow by about a centimeter. Apply a little pressure to your partner's back with the heel of your right hand. It's a subtle, but definite movement.

Natural Top in Rumba
The timing in the Natural Top is the same as in the basic. We don't move our feet on beat 1. You don't do it in basics, so don't do it in the Natural Top. Your follower might try to move on that beat, try to hold them steady so that they don't.

You can do one bar or three bars (or five, or seven, etc) of turning. You'll finish turning by closing your right foot to your left (instead of crossing your right behind your left). This will stop the rotation and your partner will know you've stopped moving. As usual, your partner is connected to your frame, not your feet; so it's actually more about your shoulders moving (or stopping) than your feet.

Your step behind should be as close to toe-to-heel as you can manage (your feet will be at right angles). Your side step is almost no step at all, it's mostly just unwinding your feet. Keep your steps small and you'll keep the rotation tight (which will be more comfortable for your partner as well as looking much neater).

Keep your shoulders parallel to your partner's. Don't let them dance in your armpit.

Follower

Being a light follower
In both Latin and Ballroom, being a light follower makes things easier for the leader. Being light has nothing to do with body weight; it's about how easy it is for the leader to lead the follower. One way to be lighter on your feet is to make sure you're standing up nice and tall, lift your upper body off your waist and engage your core.

Ballroom frame
Stand up nice and straight, shoulders back and down. Lift your arms as if you're holding the world's biggest beach ball - there'll be a nice slope from your shoulders down to your elbows. You can now bend your arms at your elbows to take hold. Make sure your right elbow doesn't get pushed back behind your rib cage. Keep some tension in your right arm to keep the frame.

Tango Walks
In Tango, our feet are twisted slightly to the left so that the ball of your right foot nestles into the arch of your left foot. The backward walk with your right foot will go almost in line with your left. Your left walk backwards will not be in line but will be to the left of your right foot.

Backward ballroom walks
Bend your standing leg and swing your other leg back from the hip. The toe stays in contact with the floor as you swing it backwards. Really stretch it out behind you and take the biggest stride you feel comfortable taking. Release the toe of the front foot from the floor as you drag that foot backwards. The toe release will keep your knee nicely out of your partner's way and will help you keep the speed of the movement (dragging the toe along the floor acts like a brake and really slows you down).

Signal and noise
Leading is a combination of a lot of physical signals and visual cues. When the leader raises their arm it is usually because they want you to turn under it. Leading can be very slight and very subtle. It is easier to notice these movements if you are not doing lots of extra movements (don't bounce your arms up and down while you're dancing as you may not notice when your partner is trying to lead you to turn). This doesn't, however, mean you should be rigid and sterile while dancing.

Natural Top in Rumba
The timing in the Natural Top is the same as in the basic. We don't move our feet on beat 1. You don't do it in basics, so don't do it in the Natural Top. Your leader might try to move on that beat, try to hold them steady so that they don't (not that I'm encouraging back leading).

The leader can do one bar or three (or five, or seven, etc) of turning in the Natural Top. You won't know how many they'll do. They will close their feet at the end which will stop their shoulders from rotating, so you should also feel that the rotation has stopped. Don't force it to continue and don't automatically stop after one bar in case they want you to do more.

Your crossing step should be heel-to-toe and the toe of your right foot won't move very much when that foot crosses. Your toe will be between your partner's feet. Your side step will be quite small. This will help you and your partner to keep a really tight circle of rotation which will make the Natural Top really neat.

Keep your shoulders parallel to your partner's. Don't dance in their armpit. Don't let your right elbow collapse.


7 March 2020

Leader

Natural Top in Rumba
The timing in the Natural Top is the same as in the basic. We don't move our feet on beat 1. You don't do it in basics, so don't do it in the Natural Top. Your follower might try to move on that beat, try to hold them steady so that they don't.

You can do one bar or three bars (or five, or seven, etc) of turning. You'll finish turning by closing your right foot to your left (instead of crossing your right behind your left). This will stop the rotation and your partner will know you've stopped moving. As usual, your partner is connected to your frame, not your feet; so it's actually more about your shoulders moving (or stopping) than your feet.

Your step behind should be as close to toe-to-heel as you can manage (your feet will be at right angles). Your side step is almost no step at all, it's mostly just unwinding your feet. Keep your steps small and you'll keep the rotation tight (which will be more comfortable for your partner as well as looking much neater).

Keep your shoulders parallel to your partner's. Don't let them dance in your armpit.

Natural Top in Cha Cha
The timing in the Natural Top is the same as in the basic. You can do one bar or three bars (or five, or seven, etc) of turning; but the greater number of steps per bar in the Cha Cha basic will mean much more turn occurs than in the Rumba.

You should lower the back heel each time you step, but it may be difficult (especially on the Cha Cha steps). At first, just aim for the heel to head towards the floor, when you've got better at the figure you can work on the heel lowering.

New Yorks
When doing a New York (in either Rumba or Cha Cha), take your step forward, that leg will straighten. Make sure the front toe is slightly turned out. Stand up nice and tall and keep your weight and your chest slightly forward. All of this should help you to transfer your weight back to the other leg when you turn back towards your partner. As a leader, this will make your movement (and the resulting lead) clearer for the follower. It does also feel nicer and look better.

Hand signal to lead a Hand to Hand
When you are leading a hand to hand (either from double hand hold, or a left to right hand hold, or having just done an underarm turn or a spot turn), you will hold the hand closest to your partner, you may then push away with the other hand to encourage your partner to open out and step backwards. If you are going to do this, it is better to do it with a flat hand (and then push) rather than with a normal hand hold, where you then throw your partner's hand away. If you do it from a normal hand hold, you may pull slightly towards you before throwing away, which may confuse the follower.

Follower

Natural Top in Rumba
The timing in the Natural Top is the same as in the basic. We don't move our feet on beat 1. You don't do it in basics, so don't do it in the Natural Top. Your leader might try to move on that beat, try to hold them steady so that they don't (not that I'm encouraging back leading).

The leader can do one bar or three (or five, or seven, etc) of turning in the Natural Top. You won't know how many they'll do. They will close their feet at the end which will stop their shoulders from rotating, so you should also feel that the rotation has stopped. Don't force it to continue and don't automatically stop after one bar in case they want you to do more.

Your crossing step should be heel-to-toe and the toe of your right foot won't move very much when that foot crosses. Your toe will be between your partner's feet. Your side step will be quite small. This will help you and your partner to keep a really tight circle of rotation which will make the Natural Top really neat.

Keep your shoulders parallel to your partner's. Don't dance in their armpit. Don't let your right elbow collapse.

Natural Top in Cha Cha
The timing in the Natural Top is the same as in the basic. The leader can do one bar or three (or five, or seven, etc) of turning; but the greater number of steps per bar in the Cha Cha basic will mean much more turn occurs than in the Rumba.

New Yorks
When doing a New York (in either Rumba or Cha Cha), take your step forward, that leg will straighten. Make sure the front toe is slightly turned out. Stand up nice and tall and keep your weight and your chest slightly forward. All of this should help you to transfer your weight back to the other leg when you turn back towards your partner. As a follower, this will make it easier for you move and to respond to your partner's lead. It does also feel nicer and look better.


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