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Country

Country Dancing is not one dance, or type of dance, but rather a group of dances done to Country music. Country Bands or DJs will play a variety of songs that can be danced to with a Partner or you can Line Dance to them. The most common or popular ones are the Country 2-Step, Western Waltz, Country Swing and the Country Round Dances (these are pattern dances).

Country Two Step

In the two step, the dancers move counter-clockwise around the perimeter of the dance floor. The basic step is similar to an ordinary walking step, but the the footwork timing is quick, quick, slow, slow. The two-step is normally danced to country music with a tempo range of 170-200 beats per minute. Beginners should start with a tempo range of 155 to 175 beats per minute.

History

The two step (as we know it today) derived from the American style foxtrot. Once a rather simple “barn dance” consisting of a basic walking step, the modern two step danced in Country-Western dance competitions has borrowed figures from foxtrot and swing.

Tips & Info

Beginners almost always do three things wrong:

  • They bounce as they step.
    The basic step of two step should be smooth. This sounds easy, but most beginners bounce. The feet should pass, not close, with every step, just like in normal walking. Strides should be long, confident, and smooth, without bounce, without stutter stepping.
  • They close their feet, rather than passing their feet, especially on the second quick.
    Tentative stutter steps often result from a fear of stepping on the lady’s toes. This should not happen if the lady extends and steps to the toe on her backwards steps. In addition, the lady and man should be slightly offset, such that the leader’s right foot steps between her feet, NOT in direct line with her feet. In addition to this, your thighs and calves should brush as you stride, your feet “tracking” close together, as opposed to stepping with legs wide apart like you’ve been riding a horse all day.
  • Beginners typically have bad frame, connection, and posture.
    Arms need to be held up, the frame needs to be strong, and all 4 points of contact need to be secure. In addition, don’t stoop or look at the floor or at your feet. Stand up tall and dance confidently! Leads watch where you are going like when you are driving a car. When you turn the lady keep your eyes focused on her.

Though all of this sounds like common sense, more than 90% of social dancers will either bounce, stutter step, look down at their feet, or allow their frame and posture to collapse.

Waltz

The movement of waltz is characterized by the use of Sway, Rise, and Fall. The rising and falling actions should be very smooth. Among advanced dancers, the basic step drives aggressively and is reaching in nature. A nice step is a smooth, confident, reaching step. In proper character the waltz should be soft, gentle, and romantic. With long sweeping movements, turning figures, and stylish poses, the Waltz is a dance that commands attention. The three-quarter time signature of waltz has a distinctive 1&a2&a3&a4&a5&a6 feel and rhythm pattern. Beginners should start with a tempo of 90-100 beats per minute.

History

The waltz originated as a 17th century Bavarian country folk dance before it found its way into European ballrooms in the early 1800’s. 

Tips & Info

Almost all beginners make these mistakes:

  • Dipping or falling on the “one” beat so that their waltz has sudden “dropout” on this beat.
    Some people call this a “pogo” look and this is the most frequent mistake. Waltz needs to have a very smooth, gradual rise and gradual fall. The process of falling should occur mostly on the second part of the “three” beat. The step on the three beat starts on the toe, continues to the lowering of the heel, and continues further into compression. Dance contest judges often look at the top of the Gentleman’s head, looking for the sinusoidal, smooth rise and fall action.
  • Trying to dance waltz in a continuous line like a two step might be danced, with the lady traveling continuously backwards.
    Waltz should not be danced continuously in a straight line like two step. Instead, learn a basic routine that might consist of 1) a natural (or right) turn, 2) a change step (a closed change), 3) a reverse turn (a turn to the left), and 4) a change step. Then repeat this over and over. Dance waltz steps when dancing a waltz. Waltz generally travels in serpentines and angles, not just in a straight, “streamline” down the floor.

Rushing the beat.
Waltz is slow. Hover on the second beat of the measure. Most people think that steps or weight changes must be completed by the corresponding beat of the music. This is incorrect. Good dancers dance slightly behind the music. That is, they are utilizing the space between the notes.

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