Slow Two-step

by Susie & Gert-Jan Rotscheid
(revised January, 2008)

The rhythm slow two step has nothing to do with the two-step as we know it from our phase I, II or III classes. One of the main characteristics of the slow two-step, in which it is similar to the Bolero, is that a number of the basic steps will start with a sidewards movement. The timing, versus that of the familiar 2-step, is "slow, quick, quick". It is a slower, more romantic dance. It also has some similar characteristics to the West Coast Swing in that it is basically a "slot-type" dance, where the man moves out of the way of the woman, as she moves up and down the line of dance of progression. It is a dance where you don't have to be so exact in your foot­work, and you have a chance to use more body expressing if you would like. Below we have listed some of the basic figures as described by ROUNDALAB.

The difference in the rhythm of Slow Two Step and Bolero
In Slow Two Step there is more accent on the 2nd step (3rd beat in 4/4 time) which gives your body the "up" feeling. But like 2-step, Slow Two Step is basically a flat dance; there is no foot rise, while there is some body rise.

Like Rhumba, Bolero has a more Latin flavor than Slow Two-step. The first step is slow (so the 2nd beat of music has no accent). The 1st quick has the extra accent, but this does come a little late giving you time to rise and draw out the slow. Since the quicks are quicker you don't come up any further than you do at the end of the first slow.

PHASE III figures - the "basics"

NOTE: The timing of all figures will be "S,Q,Q," and will start with the lead foot, unless otherwise stated, and therefore we will not write in "L-,R,L;" etc.

  • BASIC
    The basic figure in the STS (slow two step) begins with a side step, then cross behind, recover. This is done in both directions for a full basic. The basic action for most figures is to start low on the side step, then like on a waltz balance (without the foot rise), continue with a cross behind (this is more of a step back like in the rhumba than a real cross behind like a waltz balance), so that the action is more or less between that of a waltz balance and a back rumba basic; the 3rd step is a recover. The action is not made with a real soft-knee, as in Bolero, nor with a completely locked knee, as in rhumba, but somewhere in between. On the side step you will really reach, as in a side step in the waltz. Both partners cross in back.

    In the STS, if you do a 1/2 basic, starting with the lead foot it is called a SIDE BASIC; if you do a 1/2 basic starting with the trail foot, it is called a BASIC ENDING.

  • OPEN BASIC
    To compare this to what we know from a 2-step figure, it would be a little like a "breakaway". to compare it to rhumba, you could consider it a little like a h and to hand. Your first step is side to a half-open position, "catc­hing" your partner with your are, cross behind, and recover to face. If this is danced "both ways" or twice, it needs to be cued so. A complete open basic is only in one direction. To captivate the "romantic setting" of this rhythm, while you are in the half-open position you may look roman­tically at your partner.

  • LUNGE BASIC
    This figure is usually danced in Butterfly. You will step side with a slight lunging action, recover then both cross in front. The handhold is main­tained during the complete figure. Like the open basic, while it can be danced in both directions, a complete lunge basic is only danced in one direction, so to be danced twice it would have to be cued twice. It can best be compared to a fenceline in rhumba.

  • UNDERARM TURN / REVERSE UNDERARM TURN
    In this figure, the man will dance a side basic, but as he steps side he will raise his lead hand, placing it palm-to-palm with the woman to lead her to turn right face under those hands. The woman will step side right, turning right face, step thru with left, as she continues to turn right face, then recover left to face her partner. It can best be com­pared to an under­arm turn in rhumba. For the reverse underarm turn, the man will cross in front on his second step. This can best be compared to a reverse underarm turn in rhumba.

  • TRAVELING CHASSES
    This figure is done with a double handhold, and also from a pickup posi­tion. Therefore the figure before would probably be cued "to a pickup", or "to traveling cross chasses". It is a 2 measure figure, though it is often cued as "2 traveling chasses" for 2 measures.

    If you are traveling line of dance, the man will step forward, turning slightly left to diagonal line and center bringing both hands down to hip level and having a right shoulder lead, his next step will be side and forward diagonal line and wall, and then he will make a closing step. For the second half of the figure the man will step forward to line and center, then with a left shoulder lead side diagonal line and center, and then make a closing step.

    The woman will travel backwards down line of progression. She will step back diagonal line and center, then with a left shoulder lead bringing both hands low, side diagonal line an wall, and she will also close on the third step. On the second half of the figure she will step back, with a right shoulder lead step back towards diagonal line and center, and again on the third step of this half she will close.

PHASE IV figures

  • LEFT TURN - INSIDE ROLL
    The Left Turn includes an inside roll for the lady which is a left face underarm turn done by the lady. To comfortably be able to execute this figure you need to be in closed position, facing line of progression. Therefore, the preceding figure will often be cued "to a Pickup". It is also a one measure figure.

    The man will step forward, then starting a left face turn he will step side, then cross in front. If started from facing line of dance, at the end of this figure the man will be facing partner and center of hall.

    The woman will take a step backwards, (it is very important that the woman remembers to step straight back first, and then to start her turn. If she steps side & back she will end up too far away from her partner.), then starting a left face under joined lead hands she will step side, then step side again completing the turn to end facing her partner.

  • RIGHT TURN - OUTSIDE ROLL
    The Right Turn includes an outside roll for the lady, which is a right face underarm turn done by the lady. To comfortably be able to execute this figure you need to be in closed position, facing reverse line of progression. Therefore, the preceding figure will often be cued "to a Manuver".

    The man will step back, then starting a right face turn step side and back almost cross­ing in back, then cross in front. If started from facing reverse line of dance, at the end of this figure the man will be facing partner and center of hall.

    T he woman will step forward, then starting a right face turn under joined hands she will step side, then step side again completing the turn to face her partner. If the figures is started in closed position/reverse line of dance, the woman will end facing the wall.

  • SWITCHES
    The is shown in the ROUNDALAB manual as a two measure figure, though it is often cued as "2 switches" for a two measure figure. The figure starts in half open, so the preceding figure will often be cued,"basic (or whatever) to 2 switches" in order to get the dancer in the right position. This is also necessary, as on the first step one partner will across in front of the other.

    Using the full 2 measures, the man will cross in front of the woman (to a half open pos.), forward, forward. Next he will make 3 forward steps.

    The woman fill first make 3 forward steps, then cross in front of the man (to a half open pos.), forward, forward.

    The figure you could best compare this to would be a "man across, woman across" in waltz. Again, you can easily bring some "romance" into the dance here if you like. Since the definition ends with forward steps, if you want the dancers to face, you should cue "to face".

  • SWEETHEART RUNS
    This figure is done in wrapped position, both using the same footwork. You both make 3 forward steps.

  • TRAVELING CROSS CHASSES
    This figure is done with a double handhold, and also from a pickup posi­tion. Therefore the figure before would probably be cued "to a pickup", or "to traveling cross chasses". It is a 2 measure figure, though it is often cued as "2 traveling cross chasses" for 2 measures. It is important to remember that you both cross in front on the 3rd step of each chasse (measure).

    If you are traveling line of dance, the man will step forward slightly across his body, turning slightly left to diagonal line and center bringing both hands down to hip level and having a right shoulder lead, his next step will be side and forward diagonal line and wall, and then he will make a step crossing in front to diagonal line of dance and wall. For the second half of the chasse the man will step forward slightly across his body to line and center, then with a left shoulder lead step side diagonal line and center, and then step crossing again in front.

    The woman will travel backwards down line of progression. She will step backwards backing diagonal line and center with a left shoulder lead, bringing both hands low, then side diagonal line an wall, and she will also cross in front on the third step. On the second half of the figure she will step back also slightly across her body, with a right shoulder lead towards diagonal line and center she back and side to diagonal center and line, and again on the third step of this half she will cross in front.

PHASE V figures

  • TRIPLE TRAVELER
    The Triple Traveler is a 3 measure figure, and made up of 3 distinct parts, which you have already learned in phase III or IV. Like a Left Turn - Inside Roll, it starts from Pickup position, so the figure before needs to be cued "to a Pick­up".

    The first measure is like a Left Turn - Inside Roll, except that you will end in open position facing direction of travel, with leads hands (inside hands) joined and raised. Now the man will step forward R and spiral left face (under joined lead hands), step forward L, step forward R. For the third measure the man needs to lead in bringing the joined hands down and around so that the woman can do a right turn (the same type of turn as she makes in a Right Turn - Outside Roll), while the man goes forward, side, cross in front to end facing partner. The figure following a triple traveler is often a basic ending, or an open basic ending.

    For the woman, the first measure is like a Left Turn - Inside Roll, except that she will turn a little further to end in an open position facing the direc­tion of travel, with lead hands (inside hands) joined and held high. The second measure for the women is three forward steps while the man spirals. The impor­tant thing for the woman to remember is to continue to hold her hand up so that the man can spiral under these joined hands. Then the hands are brought down. On the third measure, bringing the hands down and then around, the woman will make a right outside turn, like in Right Turn - Outside Roll.