I still have this question: does 'rock step' mean any step backward which is followed by a forward? So far I heard it to be used with connection to jive and swing but not to chacha, rumba. Is the stationary samba walk has a rock step in it then?
The dance terminology in Hungary is a mix of English and Hungarian phrases. The name of some steps got translated, others have not. Sometimes it is very confusing. I heard one story related to this. A top Hungarian couple was taking lessons abroad and they asked the teacher to show them the step called 'Hunter'. The teacher had no clue of course! The solution was sg with 'chase' in it which got translated to Hungarian as hunter among the teachers.
My second question is about the jive again. The opinions seemed to differ on whether the heel should touch the floor or not on the rock step. Could someone check it in the book? I know it is a shame that I still not have a copy. (An online version would be nice.) I had no problem putting my heel down and extending the leg fully while maintaining a strong forward projection by sending only the left hip back. I cannot tell how much weight I put on the moving leg. I would rather describe it this way: I push the floor away with my foot by rolling from toes to flat position on the left while rolling to toes on the right.
I believe that one must always have ones weight forward so as to provide proper form and connection in latin dancing. You may place your heel down in the backward rock steps but little or no weight is placed on the heel. To allow for the cuban action, you must shift weight from foot to foot, but 'most' of it must remain on the ball of your foot. In the faster cha-cha for example, you simply will look too "clunky" if you place your heel down in the rock steps, and you simply won't have the time - not to mention have poor form. I suggest you look at yourself in a mirror while trying to place your full weight on the heel and then negligible weight on it. You should notice the difference in your form even without a partner. Next try it to some cha-cha music, and notice how you will have to scurry through the 4&1 steps in order to make up for the time lost swinging your body weight all the way back and forward. My suggestion - stay forward, and don't transfer much weight to your heel. BUT, don't dance on your toes all the time either, your calves will tense up and bother you before long. The object is to place just enough weight on the heel without 'falling backwards". Good luck. sRi.
I've done rock steps (or "back/replaces") in jive several different ways, depending upon what follows that action. My default rock step would be to put the back heel down, though I'm definitely not doing a full transfer of weight like I would in a rumba back break. I achieve that by swiveling the right hip open (the lady's part) quite strongly. However, in choreography, I don't always use that action. If I need to do a progressive spin (or something that moves forward) after the back/replace, it's not always productive to put the heel down. Though that's only a partial transfer of weight, it still has a very solid and anchored feel. When I need to get moving forward, I'll substitute a tap-ball-change action, with the tap behind me. You can propel slightly forward with that, so it's more efficient in some cases. For anyone who watches competitors, it appears that Michael and Beata (especially her) use this action a lot in jive, which wouldn't be surprising given how many changes of direction and momentum they do!
Rock step, break steps, to lower the heel or not to lower the heel? Several years ago I attended a week long instructors camp for Arthur Murray instructors. Sam Sodano taught a class on teaching what he called the component system in Rumba. He began by refering to the 5 basic foot positions that any instructor or student should be familiar with. He then defined "Break" as a change of weight from one foot to another without changing the position of the feet. A "rock" step is simply another work for a break. In most rhythm dances the most commonly accepted foot position for a foreward or back rock is an open 3rd foot position. The only difference between a foreward rock (break) and a back rock is which foot the weight is placed onto first (foreward rock = front foot then back, back rock = back foot then front) In order to maintain a continuity of body motion, there normally should be a staigtening of the knee with a corresponding lowering of the heel. Normal poise and weight carriage in dancing should always have the "weight" felt over the balls of the feet. My experience is that this is one of the most misunderstood techniques in ballroom dancing. So many instructors seem to equate the lowering of the heel with also allowing with to the heel.....It ain't so. The heel can be lowered while still maintaining the weight over the ball of the foot. Yes...it is possible to straighten the knee without lowering the heel, but but that does not mean "dig" the ball of the foot into the floor and arrest the straigtening action of the knee and hence body movement.
In the International style, yes. It is considered good technique to fully transfer body weight over the foot on the back step of a back rock.
With the American style technique, there are two prevaiing schools of thought. Some people prefer a more complete transfer of weight to the whole foot. Others prefer to see the body weight held towards the forward foot so that the heel of the back foot does not receive weight.
Your choice will depend on the "look" you prefer. If you like a fuller, more "elastic" looking action similar to International Rumba and Cha Cha, you should opt for the full transfer of weight. If you like your Amercan style Rumba to be more compact and rhythmical, with a rock step similar to that of EC Swing or Jive, then you will probably like the version with the heel up.
I have to admit that I had originally presumed that the original posting was asking about something akin to back cucarachas or cuban rocks. I've never come across a jive-like rock step in cha cha or rumba.
On Jive, the book says "The first step is taken back and the leg straightened but not locked as the heel is lowered. The knee of the leg without weight is slightly flexed. On the second step the weight is transferred onto the forward foot in place and the leg straightened but not locked." The footwork is B flat B flat which would suggest that the heel is lowered. However, I agree with Jonathan's earlier post - it is lowered but with weight forward.
Sounds like you're on the right track to me. Did you happen to check out Mark & Viola's Jive variation on Ballroomdancers.com a few weeks back? That's a very good example of rock steps in Jive.
Terminology-wise, it's my personal observation that a "rock step" tends to describe a transfer of weight from one foot to the other and back, while a "break" describes an actual stop and/or change of directional movement.
To put it in another way, a back break would imply that you are actually moving backwards and then forward, as in Cha Cha, such that you would transfer all of your weight fully over the whole foot before moving away. By definition, a back rock does not imply direction of movement, but only positions of the feet. So your your body does not have to move backwards when your weight shifts to the back foot.
According to this definition, a break would be a type of rock step, but not vice-versa.