Footwork Variations

The move variations covered so far in this part of the book have been structural variations—changes in the positions and orientations of the dancers, or the shape of the move. In this section, we cover changes to the footwork within the context of an existing move.

For the majority of these footwork variations, the other dancer should (ideally) not be able to tell that a different footwork is being performed. The dancer will end up in the same place at the same time, generating or responding to the same lead. This doesn't mean that the variations should be invisible, though—there's little point in doing a variation in too modest a manner, so that a spectator wouldn't notice them.

Because the lead and follow aspect of the move is unaffected, this means that some parts of each move are more susceptible to variations than others. For a Lindy Turn, beats 1 and 2, and 7&8 are often varied, since the dancers don't normally travel far on these steps. In contrast, the dancers are converging on each other during beats 3&4, and then moving past each other on beats 5 and 6—as a result, there are fewer footwork variations that can fit in with this.

The rhythm structure of the steps that are being replaced will indicate how many steps are needed in the replacement, in order to fit back in with the rest of the dance once the variation is over. However, the alternative steps themselves do not have to follow that pattern. For example, beats 7&812 of a Lindy Turn have an odd-even sequence of two-beat units, but could be replaced with an even-odd sequence. Rhythm-changing footwork variations are more likely to feel "odd" to begin with, even though they give a wider palette of possibilities.

The jazz steps described in the previous chapter are one obvious source of inspiration as choices for the alternative footwork to perform, but the imagination of the dancers is the only real limit.

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