Photos from Sidmouth FolkWeek 2015 - showing examples of where dancers put their feet during swinging.

See if you can spot yourself amongst these photos!

All photos are cropped from those available on the official photo website - and all are taken from the Blackmore Gardens folder.

I have selected these examples from photographs where it is fairly clear (if only from what other dancers are doing) that a swing is in progress. But because many photos are snapshots with no 'just before' and 'just after' positions available, sometimes it is uncertain exactly what the dancers were doing with each other (and maybe better not to ask).

What follows assumes that the dancers shown at Sidmouth 2015 are doing (or trying to do) a buzz step swing. These photos should be compared to the 'staged' photos and diagrams on the previous webpage.

feet1.jpg (48423 bytes)     feet11.jpg (50656 bytes) All these dancers are experts and all their feet are correctly positioned. Their right feet are parallel to each other, as closely as makes little difference, and their outside (left) feet are all close in and not too far out from the centre of rotation. Also, left feet are 'behind' the right feet.

The second photo shows a couple who live in Sidmouth. Both are highly experienced and the woman is one of few who can swing with me as fast as I can go and with no risk of becoming unbalanced - she just keeps her feet underneath her. Their right feet are perfectly positioned.

In both cases, right feet could be a little closer to each other and their left feet kept closer to the floor.

 feet9.jpg (48300 bytes)

This is almost perfect. I would say that because it's me dancing with Kathy - a woman I met for the first and probably last time at Sidmouth FolkWeek 2015. Again, our right feet are close together (but both should be a little further forward so as to be more side by side) but in all, it's a good example of where feet should be. Our right legs are very close - again this is correct especially in a crowded dance hall where 'close proximity' swinging is necessary.

It is helpful to think of yourself (and your partner) being contained within a vertical cylinder on the dance floor. Feet, arms and legs should remain inside the cylinder if you wish to avoid colliding with adjacent couples. In such a case, feet may need to be closer than shown here. Kathy's left foot should not be off the ground at such an angle.
 feet12.jpg (45902 bytes)     feet13.jpg (45786 bytes) Again, Kathy dancing with me in Blackmore Gardens. Fortunately there are four pictures of us during the same swing sequence, so you can spot small differences between the photos. They are shown in the order they were taken.

In the second picture, Kathy's left foot is too far out (on a circle of too large circumference). This can give rise to a woman becoming unsteady at high rotational speeds and with a risk of feeling she might soon leave the ground. She needs to keep her left foot closer to the centre of rotation.

Also my left foot is slightly in front of my right. This can happen at the start or end of a swing but should not occur once a buzz step swing has become established.

Kathy did complain once or twice about nearly leaving the ground - it was her own fault!

feet14.jpg (45769 bytes)     feet15.jpg (41462 bytes) In these photos my feet are perfectly positioned except for one small fault - I again have my left foot slightly in front of my right in the first photo - this should not happen once a buzz step swing has become established.

In both photos Kathy is making the same mistake, but again to a small degree: her left feet should not be so far forward.

Note that in all four of these photos, our feet are almost parallel - if you drew lines on the floor from heel to toe of each foot you'd have four almost parallel lines. When one dancer twists their body incorrectly, their feet may be oriented at 45 degrees or more to their partner's feet. This can make a buzz step swing distinctly uncomfortable.

feet5.jpg (41981 bytes)      feet10.jpg (51624 bytes) Two further examples of 'as good as it gets' outside of display dancing. Right feet are close, and close to the ground.

The photo on the left shows a well known caller (with blue socks) dancing with an accomplished woman. Their right feet are parallel, their left feet are close in on a tight radius.

The second photo shows one of my local dance partners and again all four feet are almost perfectly positioned. Right feet are close to each other and parallel, and if the photo has been taken a fraction of a second later the left feet would probably also have been parallel. The photo from which this was cropped may be selected for 2016 Sidmouth publicity - see if you can spot it on their website.

feet8.jpg (36462 bytes)       feet16.jpg (45204 bytes) The photo on the left shows no errors.

In the second photo, the woman (left of photo) is an accomplished ceilidh and Irish Set dancer. She has her feet correctly positioned. The man's left foot is too far forward unless he's doing a walk step swing. Their right feet should be both closer together.

feet4.jpg (39639 bytes)      feet2.jpg (46398 bytes) Again, the first photo shows no serious errors, except that right feet could be closer together. Both are expert dancers

In the second photo, the man's feet are broadly correct but he is having to cope with a small slender girl who tends to run around men instead of swinging with them. Her left foot is far in front of her right, and both her feet are far from the centre of rotation.

She's an example of a tiny girl who should be a delight to swing with - but isn't, unless you both settle for a walk step swing.

feet17.jpg (46061 bytes)      feet3.jpg (41279 bytes) Two further examples of incorrect positioning of feet for a buzz step swing - in the first photo the man is an expert dancer and his feet are positioned tightly underneath him.

The woman appears to be sprinting around with her left foot as far in front of her right as it will go - and the full photo makes clear how fast she was travelling. The man is probably near the centre of rotation, the girl is flying around at high speed.

The second photo shows a similar problem - left foot far too far forwards, this time it is the man at fault. Their right feet are too far apart also facing each other instead of almost side by side.

feet6.jpg (52683 bytes)

I have to be careful what I say here. The woman (left of photo) is the wife of a well known caller. She is a delightful dance partner, except her swinging needs a little improvement at times.

Here she has her right foot at right angles to the other three feet. In effect she has her right foot on a radius to a circle, rather than on a tangent  Whatever she was doing it probably wasn't a smooth swing. The man's left foot is far too far forwards and too far away from his right foot.

It's just a case of 'could so easily be even better'. So could many women - with just a little instruction. The same is undoubtedly true of men.

irishwestkerry.jpg (77358 bytes)

And finally - how to dance quite fast!

This link is to a video on youtube of the West Kerry Set being danced by Bill Lynch and one of his regular partners. She's to the left of the picture at the start. The West Kerry set is famed for its series of double reverse house moves.

The screen shot shows the woman airborne at about 15.35 minutes, but there is an excellent recovery. At about 16.50 minutes two women (one dancing as a man) give another demo of doubling in the house-around. In doubling, feet are 'meshed' (as in waltz or polka) and the right feet act as a pivot, as they should do in a fast buzz step swing. So keep your right feet close together!

There is also some fast swinging at the end of some of the figures. The floor is obviously quite slippery - several people almost lose their footing.

This is fast folk dance at its best.....but maybe not for beginners........

If you want to see some expert Irish Set Dance with advanced 'stepping' - try this.

folk dance moves - a few webpages detailing various common and not so common moves in folk dancing

folkdanceteach page (general notes on my folk dance lessons as they started at Gittisham Folk Dance Club)

folkdanceteachswing page  (how to teach the buzz step swing)

Gittisham folk dance club page

top page for folk dance clubs - a section of the SeeRed website including notes on some folk dance venues in Devon