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Plaza Column - View article
Written by : Max M Ali MD
Date : 03-11-2004
Title : Swing Shape and Sway by Hilliers!
Article: Dancing Tid-bits Issue #173, Thursday, March 11, 2004.

Today's Topic: Swing Shape and Sway by Hilliers!

The Hilliers, I mean Stephen and Jennifer are back on the Tid-bits by popular demand. Here is a summary of another recent lecture at Dancesport Academy of Michigan, this time "Swing, Shape and Sway."

Swing: Of course we are talking about the swing of Ballroom dances such as Waltz, Fox-trot, Quickstep and V.W.... Haven't you heard "It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing". That is so true.

Where does Swing start: I recall, they said "it starts when you swing your hip". I think that is so true because if we just move or swing our legs the movement is restricted. Actually if we swing from the hips, your body moves and arrives at a point where your feet simply collect your weight. If someone said "swing is overrated"..I simply don't buy that. I also feel that swing must be felt in your brain before it is turned into motion. The feeling of swing up and down is no different from when we were swinging in a "swing" as kids. The direction of swinging momentum changes as different patterns are executed. I think in a turn, first you swing forward; then it changes into a side swing and some people start a never ending discussion on that issue. Not here!

Sway Vs. Shape: Sway is used to kill the swing. If we did not sway, we will fall to the outside of the turn. So, what is Sway?...Sway is the inclination of the body towards the inside of the turn. Sometimes sway is also used for effect such as Feather Step where there could only be a slight curve. Shape of course has more "Cosmetic" effect just as we use Make Up to look prettier.

Oversway Vs. Throwaway Oversway: This was the best part of the lecture for me. I always had a problem differentiating the 'lead' for Oversway as compared to Throwaway Oversway. First it might disturb you to hear that there is no SWAY in these steps. So why are they called Oversway and Throwaway Oversway. Interesting?..Isnt it. What I could gather from Stephen and Jennifer was that these pictures lines give an illusion of Swaying. However if you study the great masters you will see that their pelvic girdles or say, the Hips are more or less level and therefore there is no sway per se. Having said that, then there is extreme shaping. Please don't mind the word extreme, this is my interjection. This shaping creates the illusion of swaying and I think there may be some inclination of upper body depending on who is doing it but certainly there is no swaying here to inside of turn (there is no real turn) or otherwise. The LEAD for just the oversway is that there is no lead. Simply (Man) RF back, turning left, LF to side staying kind of low and don't overturn and let her assume the final position nice and easy. Oversway is done.

Now let's see what we have to do in order for her to go all the way for "Throwaway". Stephen and Jennifer got all of us on the floor to try this. I cannot believe it was so simple and I got a hang of it right away. As the man gets ready with his RF back to oversway he uses a slight elevation as he steps to side on LF. This may create a foot work of toe-heel on LF and then he lowers and lady automatically extends her left leg and foot for a throwaway with nice shaping again. Actually here, there is a feeling that he picks her up from his right side and puts her away to his left.

Let me end this Tid-bit by Stephen and Jennifer's last kind reply to my earlier Tid-bit. Have a nice weekend, Max

Dear Max,
Your Tid Bits was as always excellent.
Just one small comment as we would not like to mislead the readers. When the stomach pulls in - we must not tuck the pelvis - so the pelvisremains natural and lose - so that it can swing and remain free - that was the reason for saying it remains in a constant state of FLUX or movement while dancing. As we discussed in the lecture Swing is still VERY, VERY, important to us. You are welcome to send this message to all your readers. With respect and our very best wishes.
Stephen & Jennifer Hillier.