5 years ago

Reading Ballroom Dance Scripts - Dance -

Reading Ballroom Dance Scripts - Dance -

• If you just

• If you just completed the step ‘LF side and slightly back’ your alignment would be stated as ‘backing against LOD’. This means that our set of 8 orientations generate 16 possible alignments. They can be thought of as 8 pairs, where you are facing the same way for the items in a pair. Facing DC. Backing DWA. Facing C. Backing W. Facing DCA. Backing DW. Facing LOD. Backing ALOD. Facing ALOD. Backing LOD. 26 Facing DW. Backing DCA. Facing W. Backing C. Facing DWA. Backing DC. The labels above employ abbreviations so they fit on the diagram. Here is the same data in unabbreviated form, listing the alignments clockwise from the top of the above diagram. If you have moved forward: If you have moved backward: Facing Line of Dance Backing Against Line Of Dance Facing Diagonal to Wall Backing Diag. to Centre Against line of dance Facing Wall Backing Centre Facing Diagonal to Wall Against line of dance Backing Diagonal to Centre Facing Against Line Of Dance Backing Line Of Dance Facing Diagonal to Centre Against line of dance Backing Diagonal to Wall Facing Centre Backing Wall Facing Diagonal to Centre Backing Diagonal to Wall Against line of dance 5.3.2 What happens for sideways steps? Either facing or backing may be used when the last step was taken sideways. I haven’t found any clear statement of how to choose between the two options, but here’s what the practice seems to be. The authors of ‘The Ballroom Technique’ seem to choose so as to avoid having to use any of the three ‘against’ alignments, ALOD, DWA and DCA. I can’t pick any pattern as to how they decide which to use when the choice is between Wall and Centre. The ISTD Samba book seems to most often use whichever term was used on the preceding step, if any. The other Latin American books seem to usually choose the ‘facing’ option. But in both these cases there are exceptions that do not conform to these patterns. 5.3.3 What happens for the initial alignment of a figure? We said that when describing the alignment at the end of a step we choose between ‘facing’ and ‘backing’ based on whether that step had a forward or backward component. So what do we do

when describing the starting position for a figure, (or of a sequence dance)? There is no ‘just completed step’ to refer back to when describing the starting position. In ‘The Ballroom Technique’ this issue is rare, because in the Standard Style dances there is hardly ever any turn on the first step of a figure. This means the initial alignment is the same as the alignment at the end of the first step and so the charts don’t bother stating the initial alignment. I could only find one figure where turn occurs on the first step. That is the Waltz Reverse Pivot, where the figure only has one step. There the initial alignment seems to have been chosen based on whether the sole step is forward or backward. The ISTD Latin American books also only state the initial alignment when there is turn on the first step, but this is a far more common occurrence in Latin American dances. Usually this alignment is given in ‘facing’ form, though there are occasional exceptions that use the ‘backing’ form. I haven’t managed to pick any pattern for the exceptions. 5.4 Decoding the script – Is it an alignment or a direction? We noted above that the 8 orientation labels can be used to describe both alignments and directions. If you are reading a script and encounter one of these orientation labels, how do you know whether it is referring to an alignment or a direction? We can tell by the use of the four keywords: facing, backing, pointing or moving. Alignments are preceded by facing, backing or pointing. Directions are preceded by moving or by no keyword. The following description is oversimplified in places and I’ll have to correct bits of this later. Some examples: ‘Moving LOD’ and ‘LOD’ without any qualifier indicate directions. ‘Facing LOD’, ‘backing LOD’ and ‘pointing LOD’ indicate alignments. Facing and backing are used when the feet and body are facing the same way. Pointing is used when the foot is being placed to point a different orientation to the body. Pointing describes the alignment of the foot and may be combined with further information about the alignment of the body. For example the Waltz Weave from Promenade Position includes ‘Pointing to Centre, Body facing DC’. That is, the foot just placed faces centre, while the shoulders face DC. Sometimes, where it aids clarify, a step may indicate both alignment and direction. For example, the waltz chasses from Promenade Position has ‘facing DW (moving LOD)’. The man’s feet face Diagonal to Wall while his direction of travel is along LOD. 5.4.1 How NOT to decode alignments and directions Do NOT rely on the headings in the ISTD theory books. In ‘The Ballroom Technique’, the Tango figures include a column labelled ‘Alignment or Direction’ while for Waltz, Foxtrot and Quickstep the corresponding column is labelled ‘Alignment’. Since they’ve gone to the trouble of using different headings, it would be perfectly logical to assume that the ‘Alignment’ column in Waltz, Foxtrot and Quickstep only ever contain Alignments, not Directions. Perfectly logical. And wrong. The ‘Alignment’ columns can contain Directions. Admittedly that are far less common than in Tango, so it’s the high frequency or Directions in the Tango descriptions that caused the change in the heading for that dance, but it isn’t difficult to find Directions in the 27

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