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    The Castle Walk

    Richard Powers

    (The russian description)
    Vernon and Irene Castle set the prototype forAmerican social dancing during the Ragtime Era.
    The Castle Walk was the Castle's style of dancingthe most popular dance of the era, the One-Step.
    The Castles dancing is preserved in their 1915 filmThe Whirl of Life (watch excerpts on YouTube), and
    Fred Astaire accurately portrayed their style ofdancing in the 1939 film The Story of Vernon and
    Irene Castle. Astaire is recognized as a primarysource on the Castles' style of dancing because he
    had watched the Castles dance many times when hewas a teenager performing in Vaudeville.

    Music: Too Much Mustard (Très Moutarde) by Cecil Macklin.

    Introduction: 4 bars (1 bar = the time of two steps), or 8 counts. Touch-kick on the last 2
    counts: touch the inside toe to the floor without weight, (feet closed) with a slight
    downward pounce, then kick it back, with a slight hop on the supporting foot.

    In closed waltz position, back the lady with a One-step, taking one step to each count, withthe lady walking backwards, beginning R, and the man forward, beginning L, traveling lineof-dance (LOD). Style is smooth walking with long steps, swaying but without pumping thearms violently.
    Walk 14 steps (a full phrase of 8 plus 6 more), and on the last 2 counts touch-kick.
    REPEAT the 14 steps and the touch-kick.

    In closed promenade position, both walk 3 steps forward LOD, pivoting a half-turn clockwise on the third step. In counter-promenade position, walk 3 steps in LOD, pivoting a half-turn on the 3rd step. On counts 7 8, continue to pivot a full turn in two steps.
    REPEAT the Eight Step.
    Chassé (galop) 3 slides in LOD. On count 4, turn halfway CW with a step-hop. Repeat with the opposite feet, LOD, in counter-promenade position. Repeat both galops again.

    Shift to Right Yale position (right hip to right hip) and walk forward around each other 8 steps, dipping on the 8th step to stop. Then both walk backwards (CCW) for 6 steps and turn the lady under: he stops and turns her under his raised L arm as she spins to the right one full turn in two steps, R & L.

    Facing partners, both take a side step toward LOD (his L, her R) then cross the other foot over in front of the first foot. Take another side step then cross behind. Repeat this 4-step phrase twice more (12 steps of a Grapevine). Both walk 2 steps forward LOD on closed promenade position, then pivot a full turn in 2 more steps (he steps around her with his L as she steps forward R between his feet, then she steps around him). Exit from the pivot by swinging to left-shoulder Yale.

    5. ZIG-ZAG
    In Left Yale position, the man walks 3 steps forward diagonally to the right. On count 4 he points his R foot to right side (to the floor) without weight and twists to Right Yale position. He then walks forward diagonally to the left with 3 steps (R-L-R) and points his L to the left side, twisting into Left Yale position.
    REPEAT the Zig and the Zag.
    Meanwhile the lady walks backward with the opposite footwork, always crossing behind.

    The gent backs for 8 steps as the lady advances: each step swivels and crosses in front or behind the other (i.e. the lady crosses her R over to the left side then immediately crosses her L over her R, and so on). After the 8 steps, the gent then advances LOD while the lady backs up, both doing 8 more Serpentine steps.

    7. WIND-UP
    Each backs away from each other for 2 steps, still holding hands (his L and her R) as arms extend to their full reach. Then he turns in place to his left with 4 steps (half-turn) as she walks 4 steps forward toward her left, circling clockwise around the gent while her R hand wraps around his neck. This brings them face-to-face and they slip into waltz position to commence Traveling Turns.

    On counts 7 and 8 of the previous phrase, the dancers commence a long sequence of traveling pivots. These are the same as the concluding pivots of the Promenade Turnout above, but continue with a full turn (360°) with each 2 steps. These pivots may meander around on one spot, but ideally, they travel in a straight line, progressing LOD. To accomplish this, each must help the other get around. Take small L steps around your partner (R foot steps forward between partner's legs), not large steps to the side. The L foot may kick to the rear when free. After the Wind-Up phrase, do 8 steps of Traveling Turns. Then during the introductory musical phrase, continue with 6 more pivots and touch-kick.

    Repeat the opening sequence and its repeat.


    © Copyright Richard Powers 1984 & 2013

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