Sunday, March 02, 2008

Chalk Talk: Constant Acceleration

As I mentioned elsewhere, I recently taught a class with Bob on the Bronco variation for Schottische. In an email discussion about it beforehand, Bob said something that really clarified for me why I like it so much.

For those who don't know it, there are three parts to the Bronco variation:
  • Counts 1-2: Two leaping steps, like a flying one-step, lead backing.
  • Counts 3-8: Two Newports, a 1-&-2-&-3 waltz pattern (this is a hemiola).
  • Counts 9-16: Turning two-step polka.
When you're dancing, of course, you have two kinds of momentum: directional (how you travel along line of dance) and rotational (how you rotate around your partner). If you're doing a standard rotary waltz, these two things will be roughly constant throughout the dance. Lindy hop swingouts will have rotation, but you don't travel (at least, not around the room). Other dances will have their own patterns.

What Bob pointed out for the Bronco, though, is that these two kinds of momentum are not only both cyclical, but offset. At the beginning you're just charging on ahead, but not rotating at all. (I wish I had a name for this step. I usually just think of it as leap-leap, or run-run.) With the Newports you start rotating, 6 counts for a full rotation, but you necessarily slow down a bit in your forward momentum. By the turning two-step you're getting around in 4 counts (faster than the Newports) but that pulls you in a bit more, since they're rather more vertical than a regular polka.

What this means is that something is always accelerating. You're either speeding faster ahead or spinning around more. It's absolutely brilliant. I liked it so much that even gave it a "chalk talk" (as Richard says) during the class to draw a diagram on the chalkboard, which I will reproduce here (the 1's, 2's and 3's are just shorthand for low, medium, and high):

Neat, huh?

While I'm here, I'd like to give many thanks to Ryan and Monica for teaching the Bronco at Waltz Week 2002 (or 2003?) which is where I learned it. Bob and I have had great fun with it for a long time now, and are hoping more people get into it as well.


nevia's closet said...
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Terrace Crawford said...

Congratulations on being listed in the blogs-of-note.

tpiglette said...

Unrelated comment to your post...

I was listening to "People Change" recently too! That song reminds me of you, for some reason. It's a good song. :)