Ballroom Dance > Underturning in Viennese Waltz

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by Tenehill, Dec 12, 2007.

  1. cornutt

    cornutt Well-Known Member

    Tell her it's not New Jersey. There are no jug handles. :D

    Seriously, it happens sometimes. Friday, I'm going to watch some people doing VW and see if I see anyone either taking that second step sideways and back towards wall, as Larinda described, or letting their cross degenerate into a spiral turn, which is what I think happens sometimes. But either way, it's not that big a deal. I just let it be a 3/8 instead of a 1/2, and I follow it up with a right turn. I've gotten to dislike doing a bunch of left turns in a row anyhow -- it's a dance, not a track meet.
  2. Zhena

    Zhena Well-Known Member

    Yeah. It's awfully hard for me to understand how to fix things from just words. In reading this I was trying to figure out what I can do with a similar problem.

    Although DH and I are just beginning to get into turning figures in ballroom, we do a fair job at folk dances that turn, such as rotary waltz, pols, pivot dances, hambo, polka (which DH hates), etc. We usually do these with each other (because there are usually more line dances than partner dances) so I think we reinforce bad habits. The other night, when DH was out of town, I danced a pols with another guy. After about three steps he told me he's not DH and I don't have to use so much energy to get around. DH is 6'3" and outweighs me by ... (oops, let's not go there) ... and I feel like we can't do a full turn unless I pull him. Once I became aware of what I was doing and eased off I had a very fun dance with this other guy.

    I brought this up previously when we were working on pivots with our ballroom instructor, but she's just so impressed that we could do pivots right away, and there were other things she wanted to focus on, so we didn't get far. We made a little improvement, but then went on to other things so we're back to bad habits again.

    I've tried the "I go, you go" thing, I've tried to keep myself from pulling, I've made DH turn solo in a straight line down the room to prove he doesn't need me to get around; but when we actually dance I still end up using my right arm a lot. Larinda's suggestion to move the leg forward out of the hip may make sense in the context of Viennese Waltz, but I can't quite picture it in the context of pols, which lacks any kind of swing or sway. Is there a similar problem in ballroom pivots for which you have other solutions?
  3. Tenehill

    Tenehill New Member


    Thanks to all for sharing advice and experiences.

    So I compiled the suggestions about what a lead can do:

    1) Delay own turn: step, then turn on the leading foot.

    2) Try to make her do the first step large and straight forward - larger than she might think of doing, perhaps by being more ahead of her. But never push her to make the step large.

    3) Not try to pull her upper body toward me by means of bending my frame.

    4) Direct her second step, to pass very close to me.

    5) Never stop own turn until the last possible moment, so that she turns more than otherwise.

    6) End the third step in correct closed position.

    7) At the second step especially, don't let her finish away from me (perhaps by strengthening my right arm?).

    Some more questions that I have.

    Does swaying help or hinder her making a full half-turn? Shall I oversway, sway, undersway,
    not sway, to facilitate the 1/2 turn?

    Shall the lady rely on my right arm not to jump out of the frame? Sometimes I exert quite a lot of force on her back during turns with my right hand, and the ladies do not complain.

    I have seen that good dancers keep contact in hips, and a little higher and lower than the hips, while ladies bend their upper body far away. Is this the correct way?
  4. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    swing, yes......gotta be careful w/ sway, IMO

    dunno about relying on your right arm but I do trust your elbow to be in the right spot

    the hips have (IME) a light contact with the main contact being higher...ladies' upper body isn't far away...that is an illusion
  5. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    caveat...I am not an expert
  6. atk

    atk Active Member

    As others have already mentioned, manhandling your partner is ill advised. And assuming that the mistakes are all her fault is not necessarily true, no matter how convinced you are. I remember several times that I was absolutely convinced that a follower was doing something wrong, only to have her tell me that she was responding to something else that I didn't realize I was doing.

    Regarding the original poster's question, there's another thing that the lead can do, which I don't see covered: recovery. Recognize that there will always be limitations. Sometimes it will be you, sometimes it will be her, and sometimes it will be the shared chemistry. If you're doing everything as correctly as you can, just accept the limitation, and work around it.

    Let the mistakes happen, and figure out how to recover from them. If your partnership can't turn all the way around, and you're misaligned, then stop turning. Run, change step, hesitate, whatever. If the problem happens consistently, figure out how many turns you can successfully do, then intersperse right and left turns. If there's a lady that you can only make 2 full left turns, and 3 full right turns, before being unable to continue, then don't make any more turns than the lady can do.

    Besides, being able to recover will help your floorcraft, as it will make you practice patterns that you may not have been expecting to practice.

    My goal, as a social leader, is for both members of the partnership to enjoy themselves. I want to challenge my follower, give her a good "ride", and make her feel like the dance was amazing. I don't always succeed, but I know that I'll always fail if I manhandle or if I don't recognize the limitations of the partnership.
  7. Josh

    Josh Active Member

    I totally agree ChenLing, the book is quite limited in what it can do for you, which is why good dancers don't learn solely from books. I also teach forward, forward, lock, by the way, and have often seen the consequences of saying the word "side" when it's not appropriate. I teach a natural turn in waltz "forward, forward, close". So I'm with you brother!

    But it's important to understand when that turn starts, and the "almost useless" book tells you that you commence to turn on step 1. I know a lot is lost in words, but you almost make it sound like you just flip around at the end of the 2nd step, having done nothing to create that rotation up until that point. I know you don't do that, or it just wouldn't work, but it almost sounds that way in the description. If you don't believe me, please watch a video of yourself or any great VW dancer slowed down and you'll see that in normal situations, the turns starts sooner than you may think.

    This sentence you wrote in the first post still baffles me:

    I've got nothing but goodwill here, and I'm not trying to be argumentative, but taking two back steps with no foot turn and then rotating is just plain wrong, and impossible to dance cleanly and consistently. As we have no way to communicate this in person, if you can find me one example of a video where you can see it danced this way, I will be convinced that it at least is possible (not that you care if I'm convinced I'm sure ;-) ). Just one example. In fact, if anyone else reading this has ever danced it this way, I'd like to hear why.

    Again, please understand my intent is only to clarify and understand, not to argue! :D
  8. Josh

    Josh Active Member

    Ditto pretty much what fasc wrote.

    Sway is necessary simply because swing is present. Unless it's stylistic sway, no swing == no sway. HOWever, you must not use a lot. In VW, in fact, unless your intent is to fall down, if you're really swinging, you already have enough sway. Don't overdo it.

    Yes, the lady can make the assumption that your right arm will not "jump out of the frame." Keep your frame intact at all times, always. No exceptions for normal dancing. Your frame provides support for her, and a big danger and common error is pushing into her with your right hand. Instead, keep it very wide, and simply provide a "home base" for her with a strong right side. It's your job to provide her a place to stay, but it's her job to stay there. Nothing you can do will keep her there. She ALONE must do it. And if she doesn't, or if you shrink the space by not widening your right side, neither VW nor any other dance will work properly.

    Never pull your hips away, and the lady should always seek out hip contact. High levels of dancing require body to body contact, hip to hip contact, and thigh to thigh contact. In cases of rise and fall, you will lose thigh contact, and a little hip contact, but you should always be seeking to regain it. And as fasc said, the "bend" backwards is mostly an illusion. Don't consciously try to bend backwards.
  9. bjp22tango

    bjp22tango Active Member

    Timothy Howson & Joanne Bolton World Superstars Standard V Waltz video

    You can see some of the linear leg motions discussed, but also the side step preparation on the second step of the back half of the reverse (left) turn
  10. ChenLing

    ChenLing Member

    guy's right arm

    First off, what atk said about recovering is very important, and an important skill no matter what level you are at.

    About the guy's right arm (one of my personal pet peeves), there are two places where your arm is able to move:
    1) the elbow is still and your hand moves toward or away from your center. (forearm moves)
    2) the elbow moves forward/back rotating around your shoulder. (upper arm moves)

    #2 is a killer, and almost should never be done (try this with a partner sometime--it completely pulls her off her balance point).

    I'm making this point because a lot of guys tend to pull the lady forward by moving their elbows back. All this does is pull them off their feet, not allowing them to actually move. If you did want to add energy to your partner's step, you should use your body weight while increasing the tone of both arms (not just the right arm). This means that your hand and elbow stay perfectly still relative to both your bodies--this is what it means to have a frame (vs just having your arms up).

    If you pull with your right elbow, and to a lesser extent if you just increase the tone of your right arm, you'll make the lady rotate inside your frame, and you'll end up in a bad promenade position.
  11. ChenLing

    ChenLing Member

    One thing though--you don't want to go out of your way to have body connection. That is, don't distort your body to achieve it -- I see too many ladies sticking their stomachs out and probably hurting their lower backs. You should always be balanced over your own feet. If you are so attached to your partner that you're depending on him/her for your balance, it means you're off balance and pulling them off balance too.

    If you watch Luca and Lorraine dance, half the time there is a gap between their bodies. People like Charlotte always say that your "clothes should touch".

    So the touching is nice (better feel of where your partner is and what he/she is doing, allows better turns, etc), but don't sweat it too much if you don't have it. You should not be leading most steps with that body connection (a good number of coaches would disagree with this statement though).
  12. ChenLing

    ChenLing Member


    Hi Josh: Yeah, my description is a little confusing. I guess there are three things that apply to dance steps: 1) what something looks like, 2) what you were trying to achieve / thinking about, and 3) what actually happens. :)

    The two main issues I see with VW that causes underturn are the person going forward turning too early, and then the person going backward turning too early. That's why I really think of taking two back steps. My left foot on 2 will be turned out quite a bit, and my hips are probably turned out slightly as well (I'll have to try this later), but if I tried to turn it, I would have overturned. This overturn when going backwards forces the person going forward to turn too early, and generally step outside and away from the partnership, causing underturn. So I'm thinking of going back, I actually turn slightly, and who knows what it actually looks like. :)

    For VW, most people watch VW and see people turning continuously and try to imitate that. So let's see if I can't break it down and hopefully you can tell me if it makes sense. :) Especially since if I can't explain it clearly, then I'm probably doing something that doesn't make sense.

    Going forward:
    a) I start with my body facing DW. It can be argued that my feet are also facing that direction. I like my body turned more to the right than my feet though, so my feet tends to be closer to LOD.
    b) I torque my body slightly to lead my partner to step back and very slightly (one foot width) to the right. CBM is usually the word used here, but given the rather contentious thread about that, I'll leave that word out of our discussion. ;) I take a forward step down LOD, aiming down & compressing my left leg, left side leading, little to no body turn, no foot turn. End of beat 1.
    c) I take another step forward with right foot. I'm still trying to keep my right foot going past my left foot. At the end of that swinging leg, I turn slightly so that my right side is leading, which causes my foot to turn slightly as well. My body therefore turns approximately 1/4. The amount of turn of my foot is unimportant, as long as I keep my frame with my partner. I.e., I turn because my partner hasn't moved as far. End of beat 2.
    d) The linear momentum allows me to continue my weight onto my right foot, the rotational momentum draws my left foot in front of my right. My body turns left another 1/8 to 1/4, ending backing LOD to DW. As soon as my left foot comes underneath my body I release my right leg. End of beat 3.
    Going backward:
    e) I take a step back and very slightly right with my right foot, aiming down. This is not a rotational step per se (I'll let the person going forward generate any torque). My right foot ends up in front of my partner's left foot. My left side is still leading. End of beat 4.
    f) I continue taking a step in the same direction with my left foot. There is no change in weight (left foot points). I use my momentum from the previous step to help my partner take a second large forward step, slightly past me. My body will turn slightly as my partner goes past, causing me to turn approximately 1/4. My foot will probably be even more open (turn 3/8?) but it starts as a back step, not a side step. Where my foot goes doesn't concern me -- all that is important is me moving linearly, my partner moving linearly, and my partner going slightly past me. To stay in the frame and to help my partner I have to rotate as well. End of beat 5.
    g) My right foot closes to my left foot, completing any turns to stay with my partner. As soon as my right foot closes, I release my left foot to move. My body will turn approximately 1/8. End of beat 6.

    Does that make sense? Can you point out where your thinking disagrees with mine? Thanks!
  13. Tenehill

    Tenehill New Member

    The bend backward is not an illusion. In the video, lady's back is bent about 20 degrees sometimes.
  14. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    let me clarify...she appears backward b/c her center is so forward and her head (an extension of her spine) counterbalances that creating a curved look that appears backward but really isn't....
  15. contracheck

    contracheck New Member

    I wonder why Chris Stratton has been staying out of this exciting discussion.
  16. ChenLing

    ChenLing Member

    As fascination said, thinking about bending backward is a bad idea. Think about it: if you're standing straight and are balanced over your feet, and then bend backward (worst is using your lower back), then you're now back-weighted, and will feel "heavy" to the guy. It might feel nice to him before you start moving though, so you always have to try these things while in motion.

    So take your center (underside of left breast is generally the favorite description) forward and up towards your partner. To compensate for that, everything above it will shape upwards and back (note it's not just backwards).
  17. Tzah

    Tzah New Member

    The bend is very realistically visible and present, but it isn't a bend for the sake of bending; it isn't "just cosmetic". It's a result of a chain of other events, and therefore, "just trying to bend cuz' it looks that way" is wrong, false, and will look that way.
  18. wooh

    wooh Well-Known Member

    I don't think of it so much as a bend backward, but as a pushing forward of my lower body, and a stretch upward of my upper body. Along with a few other twists and turns, but most importantly, there's not any thinking of bending backward.
  19. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    It's more bending (your center) forward than (your back) backward.
  20. contracheck

    contracheck New Member

    Today was not my day. Not only a bunch of people made hay out of me today at another thread, Tony Dovolani scolded me today like there was no tomorrow. I participated in his Workshop at a local studio. He said that the man needs to accomodate his partner and never pull and lift her. The lady, whom I used to pull and lift to orient her properly, told him that I always pulled and lifted her. He looked completely shocked. I made the case even worse by telling him that I not only pull and lift her, I also yell at her, "make this much turn, this is where you belong." Judging from his facial expression, it looked that this was the most horrifying statement he had ever heard in his life. Then, he calmly expalined that the Man is like a GPS. If the lady missed the direction, the GPS recalculate it, the man should do the same. I think I know why he is so popular among adies and I am not. He made me a total fool out of me in front of the participants. I shouldn't have gottenup today.

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