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Re: American Smooth
Posted by Waltz123
7/13/2013  9:20:00 PM
Both International and American styles follow the same rules of floorcraft, which is to say that there is a general flow of movement counterclockwise around the dance floor. But by "general flow", it is meant that you must follow this flow only in a very general sense; It is not a strict directive to continue to move straight in one direction without ever deviating from the path. One may zig zag in and out, moving diagonally across (or occasionally even straight across), pause momentarily, or in rare instances even take a step or two against the line of dance. It's all acceptable provided the overall movement is ultimately advancing in the appropriate direction, and as long as deviations are taken sensibly and with care. As a seasoned International dancer, you are probably already aware of the guidelines to good floorcraft, and you can apply those equally to American style.

Nonetheless, I think it's fair to say that the theory and the reality are not exactly the same. In the real world, at least on the competition circuit, American smooth dancers these days do indeed tend to travel slower than standard competitors. 10 years ago, we would complete about 3 long sides in a 1:40 routine, whereas nowadays the average seems to be closer to only 2. One can only guess whether this trend will continue, but it is more indicative of current artistic preferences than anything inherent in the style itself.

As to the variation on BallroomDancers.com, you may be misreading it. It consists of a Reverse Turn, Cross Body Lead w/ Underarm Turn to Side-by-Side Explosion, Spot Run, Open Natural Turns, Free Spin to Fencing Line, Roll In to Whiplash, and 3 runs to finish with 4-6 Natural Turn. Of all of these movements, only the lady's roll in from the fencing line actually move directly against line of dance, and the man is behind her to keep the space clear of "intruders", so to speak. The explosion to spot run is stationary for exactly 5 measures, which is far less than the typical Fleckerl in Int'l style. So all in all, this routine actually moves quite actively in a positive direction throughout... even more so than many Int'l routines of equal length.

If you saw something else in the video that appears to move against line of dance, chances are you weren't visualizing the room as small as it actually is, which is about 1/3 the size of a normal competition long side, and really no short side at all. So the dancers are forced to turn corners and change direction very quickly. They begin moving from the left side of the stage to the right, but by the time they begin the open naturals, they are turning the corner and moving to the right again. This would all be considered moving along line of dance in a small room.

To see the proper alignments for this or any other figure, scroll down the page and click on the tab for either the man's or the lady's parts. This should help clear up any confusion.

Jonathan Atkinson
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