Thanks for your commentary, Erik.
In regards to the direction of balances before allemandes, I agree for the
most part, but I see one aspect you left out: eye contact. I know not
everybody uses eye contact when balancing towards someone, just as not
everybody uses eye contact in swings or allemandes, but many folks do, and
I know folks who find the eye contact first with one person, then with
another during a right-left (or left-right) balance to be not only very
satisfying, but an important social component of the figure.
I have a tendency to look at dances in a very technical manner, when
calling as well as when dancing or playing. I consciously try to let that
go when it is unnecessary. When deciding on the wording to use for a dance,
I try to consider whether it **really** matters to the momentum to specify
what direction the dancers balance in, or to let them enjoy it as they will
(coming from what may be a last bastion of hands-across-star-by-default, I
do this for star grip as well).
For a different point, if the balance before the allemande is by one hand
only—instead of, say, from a wave—balancing toward-away-from the person
often makes more physical sense than a half-supported forward-back.
In regards to circles, circumference, and styling, I love the points you
make. I enjoy when callers bring up (carefully selected) style notes for
oft-ignored aspects of the dance, such as how radial distance affects speed
(and, therefore timing) in not only circles, but allemandes and
two-hand-turns. My recent crusade (to be a bit hyperbolic) has been
"turning takes time" during down-the-halls. Time will tell how effective it
is at alleviating line drift...
On Sun, Aug 21, 2016 at 4:31 PM, Erik Hoffman via Callers <
There’s been a discussion on balancing forward &
back, or right & left, or
starting the balance left, then right when the balance precedes a left
allemande. And there’s been a discussion on the timing of circles. Like,
does a circle left ¾ take 6 or 8 beats? And how long should a circle left
*Balances & Direction*
I think it was Cammy Kaynor who told me he always teaches, “Balance in the
direction you’re going to go.” This, as stated, is obvious in a box
circulate: you’re going to go forward after the balance. It’s also obvious
in a Rory O’More type balance: the balance is right, then left making that
right slide or twirl gratifying. And it’s the one place where we do teach
the left then right balance, to make that slide/twirl left so cool. Now,
consider the allemande:
The initial motion of an allemande is forward. The connection of arms is
what turns the forward motion into a circular motion. It is not very
satisfying to balance right—tension in the left arm—then left—no tension in
the left arm—then go into an allemande left. But a forward & back creates
some loss of tension in both arms, then tension in both arms, and you can
even favor tension in the left arm facilitating a wonderful launch into
that left allemande. When doing this there is no need to alter our “normal”
right then left balance. Thus I’ve strongly adopted the above rule: *Balance
in the Direction you’re going to go*. And remember: the initial direction
of an allemande—any allemande—is forward. Thus following this rule yields
satisfying results whether the balance precedes a left or a right
allemande. I try to bring this up whenever I teach a dance.
*Circles, Allemandes, & Circumference*
Back in the old days (when I started dancing in the 1980s), callers could
and would give styling points. We did dances where, in 8 beats, we might
allemande left once, dances with an 8 beat 1½ allemande, and dances, like
Hull’s Victory, where we’d make it twice around in 8 beats. Some of us were
taught that we could get a good connection and give good weight by varying
the circumference of the circle we traveled. Keep arms wide, travel a
larger circle, and once around in 8 beats feels great! Pull in close, and
you can make it around twice in 8 beats.
At times there has been discussion about how a circle left ¾, swing
someone is a 6, then 10 beat set of figures. I think of it as 8 & 8, but
let dancers do whatever they want. Then we have a circle left ¾, ring
balance, California twirl. The timing of this is definitely 8, 4, 4.
It is easy to have a good connection, give good weight in a circle ¾, and
make it last 6 or 8 beats by expanding or contracting the circle. Aware
dancers will adjust to make the move fit the timing of the dance. Circle
left ¾ into a balance: make the circle bigger so the path is a bit longer.
Want that extra two beats of swing? Contract the circle, and get there
I do agree that a circle left 1¼ in 8 beats does not work well. So, make
the circle a bit bigger and turn it into a zesty 12 beats.
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