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One Step

ROUNDALAB Journal Winter 2007-2008

Articles of Special Interest

Opinions expressed in articles are not necessarily those of the Board of Directors or the ROUNDALAB Organization.

One-Step—The Forgotten Rhythm

by Larry Warner
68 Montrose Drive, P.O. Box 896, Fishersville VA 22939-0896, 540-942-9003,

Editor’s Note: The following was presented by the author, assisted by Chip & Eileen Hopper, as a workshop at the Virginia State Square and Round Dance Convention in May 2006.

Suppose that you are inspired by a beautiful or sensualmusical composition or arrangement that you feelwould be fun to dance to instead of just listening. But the music does not seem to fit into one of the RoundDancing standard rhythms. What most choreographerswould say is “Yes, that is a nice piece of music, butyou can’t dance to it.” Only a few have rememberedthat One-Step can be used to fit almost any music. What we will do today is provide you with a samplingof dances that utilize One-Step, sometimes in conjunctionwith other rhythms, to give the dancer a fun experienceto interesting pieces of music.

The dances I have chosen are:

  • Left Footers One-Step, Phase II, choreographed by Bruce & Shirley Johnson
  • My Love, a ROUNDALAB Golden Classic, Phase II,choreographed by Charlie & Bettye Proctor
  • Nadia’s Theme, Phase III, Choreographed by Bill &Carol Goss
  • The Apartment, Phase V, Choreographed by Jean Wakeland

One-Step in ROUNDALAB’s Manuals
ROUNDALAB’s definition of One-Step is written in the Rhythm section of the Glossary: “The music is written in 4/4 or 2/4 time; in 4/4 time a step is take none each beat of the measure, in 2/4 time a step is taken on every other beat of the measure.”The only One-Step figures in the ROUNDALAB Standards are in Phase I Waltz and Two Step labeled as Balance [One-Step]. However, the more common Balance figure used in One-Step choreography is the Balance [Forward and Back]. The definitions are copied from the Phase I ROUNDALAB Standards below.

# Balance [Forward and Back] TS bal
Balance [Direction]
MAN: In closed position beginning with either foot forward, close, in place, -; back, close, in place, -;
WOMAN: In closed position beginning with either foot back, close, in place, -; forward, close, in place, -;
NOTE: A 2-measure figure. May be done in any position. When done in open or semi-closed position woman’s first step is forward.

# Balance [One Step] bal
[Direction] Touch
MAN OR WOMAN: Step in direction indicated[forward, backward, or sideward], touch,

# Balance [Forward and Back] WZ bal
Balance [Direction]
1,2,3; 1,2,3;
MAN: In closed position beginning with either foot forward, close, in place; back, close, in place;
WOMAN: In closed position beginning with either foot back, close, in place; forward close in place;
NOTE: A 2-measure figure. May be done in any position. When done in open or semi-closed position woman’s first step is forward.

# Balance [One Step] WZ bal
[Direction] Balance
MAN OR WOMAN: Step in direction indicated[forward, backward or sideward], touch, – ;

The Definition of One-Step taken from The ABC’s
Of Round Dancing
by Fred Haury
“The simplest form of footwork used with 4/4 time music. The One-Step is a series of walking or running steps. Walking involves taking slow steps, which is one step for every two quarter note beats of music.Running steps involves taking quick steps, which is one step for every quarter note beat of music. Each Forward or Backward step is identical in that the stepping foot passes the weighted foot to receive weight in the direction of travel.

“Sideward movement may employ ‘Close’ steps, but ‘Close’ steps are not used otherwise. The One-Step is excellent for acquainting beginners with stepping in time with the beat of the music and for free style Ballroom Dancing to extra fast tempos. As tempo increases the dancers may shorten the length of steps to maintain a comfortable dancing rate.”

Mixing with other rhythms
One-Step can be mixed with any other rhythm when a portion of the music fits another style of dance. For example, My Love has a One-Step section, as well as sections of Two Step and Quickstep.

Using figures from other rhythms
Figures that are defined for other rhythms, such as Waltz or Foxtrot, may be incorporated into One-Step choreography with the restriction that timing is likely to change. Since Waltz is technically a One-Step rhythm (One step is taken on each beat of the music)Waltz figures are the easiest to incorporate.

Syncopation in One-Step
Like Chasse in Waltz, where it is desired to take four steps in 3 beats of music, the principle of using counts of “&” is also available in One-Step. This is generally reserved for the higher phases of One-Step. It is possible,but unlikely, that eight steps could be executed in one measure by using the “Chasse” logic of Waltz to get two three-step figures into a single One-Step measure by using a timing of “1&,2,3&,4;”.

The opposite is also true with figures that, while syncopated in their own rhythm, do not maintain syncopation when used in One-Step. An example is a Waltz Double Reverse Spin, which is syncopated for the lady. In One-Step the Double Reverse is executed as four even counts.

Actions such as Point or Touch almost always take up one beat as usual.

Cueing Techniques
Two methods can be used to cue One-Step. The first is the one usually preferred by cuers: cueing measure by measure, which makes timing easier. The second,usually preferred by dancers, is to cue figure by figure.In cases where the figure requires a full measure,the result is that both work equally well. Cueing becomes more complicated when the choreography uses a figure for each beat of the measure.Rapid step-cueing may be required, especially at the higher phases.

Highlights of the dances used for this clinic
Left Footer’s One-Step
is usually the second dance It each in a beginning Two Step class. It introduces the Banjo, Sidecar, and Reverse Semi-Closed positions. It allows the man to realize that he can dance backward as well as the woman. It demonstrates the concepts of in and out of the dance circle. It allows the instructor to really see if there are any students that are rhythmically challenged.

My Love is an example of mixed rhythm including One-Step, Two Step, and Quickstep sections in the dance. It also is a good dance to reinforce Fishtail as well as learning a Golden Classic.

Nadia’s Theme is a combination of One-Step along with Foxtrot figures in One-Step rhythm. Since it was taught at a previous Virginia State Convention, it will be used to demonstrate cueing technique and will not be taught again.

The Apartment uses Phase IV and V figures in One-Step with tempo changes in the music as an additional challenge. (Short cues for The Apartment can be found on the next page.) Because of the limited time frame of a Convention setting for the teaching of this dance, please do not be overly concerned if you do not master this dance in the allotted time, especially if this is your first exposure to One-Step.

Please ask your own teacher for additional help or instruction or just use this experience to remember One-Step.

For further information, comments, suggestions, or any questions, please contact the author.