Should you use heel leads in Country Two-Step?

Do you use heel leads or toe leads for forward steps in Country Two-Step?


  • Total voters
    15
#1
With regard to forward steps in Country Two-step, I have heard both "always use heel leads" and "never use heel leads" emphasized by different teachers. That is stepping forward with the heel of the foot first vs. stepping with the toe first (a ball flat action). I'd be interested to know what all of you use and if there was a consensus as to which is preferrable.
 

pygmalion

Well-Known Member
#3
I'm probably not the best person to answer this question, since I learned ballroom foxtrot first. So I use heel leads the same as I would in foxtrot. Of course, I don't think you need as much power and push-off in two-step as you do foxtrot. So I guess you could get by without using your footwork to power you, if that makes sense.

Just curious. The teachers who say one should never use heel leads recommend what instead? :?

And, by the way, welcome to the forums, discovery. 8)
 
#4
Maybe I'm misunderstanding the question but I'll give it a shot. This is how I was taught.

If you count your steps as:
One - Two - Three- Five
The step's lead would be:
Toe - Toe - Toe - Heal

or Quick(Toe), Quick(Toe), Slow(Toe), Slow(Heal)

Hope that helped,

Rick
 
#5
pygmalion said:
Just curious. The teachers who say one should never use heel leads recommend what instead? :?
pygmalion,

The teachers who say never use heel leads for forward steps recommend using toe leads instead. That is rather than taking a natural walking step where the heel of your foot contacts the floor first (followed by the whole of the foot), they recommend stepping forward using the toe of the foot first (followed by the whole of the foot) in a kind of walk where you are scuffing your feet.
 

Vince A

Active Member
#6
I believe that every reply here is correct, and the answer lies in whether or not you are competing.

I personally do a combination of all the above . . . driving with toe leads . . . in fact, I step out using more of a "ball-of-the-foot lead" in everything going forward. It does look like I land flat-footed though. I usually reserve "heel leads," or digging in with heels, while driving backwards.

In social dance, I've even been caught kinda of "2 Step Prancing," which is an over-emphasizing the "toe-leads." If not done correctly, can look very feminine :oops:

A lot of it depends on the partner yu are dancing with . . . some like to take small strides, while others take huge strides, and yes it's our job to control that, but . . . sometimes women are just hard headed and like to lead even if they're not leading! :wink:

TIP: You have to do what you have to do to keep from bouncing. You have to glide on an even keel. One way I do this, is to imagine a champagne glass, full of champagne, is sitting on my head, and my goal is to not spill the champagne . . . try it!
 
#7
Ok, so the official UCWDC rules don't state whether you should do heel or toe leads and here is what I teach.

I teach a lazy or clipped heel lead. Meaning, not the very specific driving one of Fox Trot, but more similar to a Tango. Also, unlike smooth or standard dances, Two-Step requires you to land on a straight leg on the beat. This is why it is not an honest heel lead. But it can't be a toe lead. It should not drag and it should be a fairly big step. If you worry more about walking, progressing down the line of dance and stepping directly on the beat, you'll find you're doing this sort of heel lead anyway.
 
#8
That was well said Solomon. I think 2-step though it travels is very much like a rhythm dance, so the rules of getting low and swinging through the hips do not apply.
 
#9
I have two more questions which are related (I wasn't sure if I should create a separate topic for the second one):

1. Whatever your opinion as to using heel or toe leads for forward steps, is it the same for the lady?

2. How about backward steps? Is it a toe release (the toe releases from the floor first, as in smooth and standard) or heel release action (as in rhythm and latin)? How about for the lady?

I'm especially curious about whether a toe release for the lady would put her weight too far towards the back of her foot making it difficult to turn. Or should it be a muted toe release (i.e., not as pronouced as in the ballroom dances), sort of a corollary to what solomon was suggesting for the forward steps --a lazy heel lead?
 

Vince A

Active Member
#10
discovery said:
I have two more questions which are related (I wasn't sure if I should create a separate topic for the second one):

1. Whatever your opinion as to using heel or toe leads for forward steps, is it the same for the lady?
With regard to your initial question and this one, I asked my wife who competes in UCWDC as an "Advanced" dancer.

She said, "You never do heel leads and you never do toe leads . . . you just put one foot in front of the other . . . you don't prance, i.e., toe leads" . . . . . "It's just like walking!.

discovery said:
2. How about backward steps? Is it a toe release (the toe releases from the floor first, as in smooth and standard) or heel release action (as in rhythm and latin)? How about for the lady?
"As you are walking backwards, you roll your foot from the ball of your foot to the heel," says my wife. It's never a solid footing, you never want to clunk." "At least," she continues, "these are the things that I do."

discovery said:
I'm especially curious about whether a toe release for the lady would put her weight too far towards the back of her foot making it difficult to turn. Or should it be a muted toe release (i.e., not as pronouced as in the ballroom dances), sort of a corollary to what solomon was suggesting for the forward steps --a lazy heel lead?
She said, "Try the above."
 
#11
First thanks for the insight, it's great to hear what competitive country dancers do. Also, sorry this is so technical but I'd really like to know what happens.

Vince A said:
She said, "You never do heel leads and you never do toe leads . . . you just put one foot in front of the other . . . you don't prance, i.e., toe leads" . . . . . "It's just like walking!.
If you're not doing heel leads aren't you by definition doing toe leads (ruling out whole foot)?

I should clarify that by toe leads I do not mean an exaggerated articulation of the foot as you might use doing old school american rumba. Rather, I just mean that your toe or ball of foot contacts the floor first. Given that, does your wife's heel hit the floor first or is it the ball (or toe) of her foot for forward walks?

discovery said:
2. How about backward steps? Is it a toe release (the toe releases from the floor first, as in smooth and standard) or heel release action (as in rhythm and latin)? How about for the lady?
Vince A said:
"As you are walking backwards, you roll your foot from the ball of your foot to the heel," says my wife. It's never a solid footing, you never want to clunk." "At least," she continues, "these are the things that I do."
Here what I was wondering was, after you have rolled from the ball of your foot to the heel, what happens next? That is, for the foot in question is the very next thing you do with it to raise the toe off the floor? Or do you point the toe?

For example, speaking purely about the feet, whether you are dancing Smooth/Standard or Rhythm/Latin you will, in general, roll from the ball of the foot to the heel for backward walks (of course, many exceptions). The difference comes in what happens next, in Rhythm/Latin you will point the foot releasing the heel first and in Smooth/Standard you will release the toe first.

Thanks for all your replies!
 

Vince A

Active Member
#12
OK, some technical . . .

Before describing the step, here are some conventions:

A "step" will indicate a movement of a foot which has a weight change [NOTE: this is a narrow definition]
A "STEP" will be a "dance step" which may be composed of one or more steps or STEPs
examples:
A glissade is a STEP composed of one gliding step
A chasse is a STEP composed of two steps, one foot closes to the other, chasing the other which takes the weight; it may be described as a coupe STEP followed by a glissade STEP
A waltz STEP is composed of three steps [exceptions: hesitation waltz and (depending on perspective) 5/4 waltz]

A condensed description of the "two step" is to execute a glissade STEP followed by a chasse STEP. Hence the "two step" is a "two STEP" composed of a glissade STEP and a chasse STEP. In simpler terminology, this is "step close step". (Some people prefer to think of chasse as "step close" ... for them the two STEPs are a chasse STEP followed by a glissade STEP.)

Various sources point out that the "two step" can be done in a variety of time signatures - not just 3/4 - and to a variety of rhythms.

The two-step is step forward on the first foot, close the other foot up to it in third position behind, then step forward on the first foot again. Done walking forward, backward, or turning.

The two step, usually counted Quick-Quick Slow-Slow, is done to fairly fast music (at least 170bpm).

Notice that everything refers to "step?" You do the two step by stepping to the music. New age two steppers can prance, they can extend their step, thus exaggerating the toe pointing, they can land on their heels, they can land flat, and finally, they can "walk" out the Q-Q-S-S.

Of course, what you do is up to you, and . . . whether or not you compete.
If you compete, check the rules that govern the venue, and/or talk to a judge there!

A more important issue is the prep in giving a proper lead in the two step! How is your prep timing?
 
#13
Vince A said:
OK, some technical . . .

Before describing the step, here are some conventions:

<<snip>>
Thank you so much for replying. :D I recognize this info from the rec.arts.dance FAQ but I don't see the relation to footwork.

Vince A said:
... New age two steppers can prance, they can extend their step, thus exaggerating the toe pointing, they can land on their heels, they can land flat, and finally, they can "walk" out the Q-Q-S-S.

Of course, what you do is up to you, and . . . whether or not you compete.
If you compete, check the rules that govern the venue, and/or talk to a judge there!
Are you saying that it's just personal preference? I guess that makes sense if you consider that some people say step with a flat footed action and others say step with a heel lead.

I see an analogy here. In discussing English grammar, there is a distinction made between "prescriptive" grammar which is "what people *should* say/write" and "descriptive" grammar which is "what people *actually* say/write".

It seems to be the same with dance, we can talk about prescriptive technique "what dance authorities say we should do" or descriptive technique "what people actually do".

I am interested in both kinds of answers-- prescriptive and descriptive. That is, people saying "this is what my teacher tells me, or, I am a teacher and this is what I teach" and also "hey, this is what I do and it works for me"

I have to guess that the majority of people in the country forums dance C/W two-step, so I am hoping that more people respond as I am interested to hear what people are doing.

Vince A said:
A more important issue is the prep in giving a proper lead in the two step! How is your prep timing?
Okay, I guess, generally speaking for inside turns I prep on 3 and outside turns I prep on 5
 

Vince A

Active Member
#14
discovery said:
Thank you so much for replying. :D I recognize this info from the rec.arts.dance FAQ but I don't see the relation to footwork.
And thank you for reminding me that I owe Victor E an acknowledgement for that!

Vince A said:
... New age two steppers can prance, they can extend their step, thus exaggerating the toe pointing, they can land on their heels, they can land flat, and finally, they can "walk" out the Q-Q-S-S.

Of course, what you do is up to you, and . . . whether or not you compete.
If you compete, check the rules that govern the venue, and/or talk to a judge there!
discovery said:
Are you saying that it's just personal preference? I guess that makes sense if you consider that some people say step with a flat footed action and others say step with a heel lead.
Yes, I am saying that, but what I do or say, just might not be correct!

discovery said:
I see an analogy here. In discussing English grammar, there is a distinction made between "prescriptive" grammar which is "what people *should* say/write" and "descriptive" grammar which is "what people *actually* say/write".
It's like saying what you do in competition may not be what you do on the social dance floor!

discovery said:
It seems to be the same with dance, we can talk about prescriptive technique "what dance authorities say we should do" or descriptive technique "what people actually do".
Getting around the floor is what is important, then staying somewhat on "some" count, then doing the prep at the right time to get the follow going where you want them to go!

discovery said:
I am interested in both kinds of answers-- prescriptive and descriptive. That is, people saying "this is what my teacher tells me, or, I am a teacher and this is what I teach" and also "hey, this is what I do and it works for me"

I have to guess that the majority of people in the country forums dance C/W two-step, so I am hoping that more people respond as I am interested to hear what people are doing.
Well, I've added my 2(ents worth, and I 'm with you - hoping that others will chime in and give their 2(ents . . .
 
#15
To make it simple, dance two-step on the ball of your foot. Only touch the heel to protect against over-rotation (for the most part).

What it sounded like the above gentleman's wife was referring to as to it not being a toe lead, would be thinking of a toe lead as in waltz for your count 3, you would lead with the leading edge of the toe. Two step is easy, untill you think about it too much, lol.
 
#17
Heel strikes first going forward. (SSB gave a good description)
Toe strikes first (this includes fwd steps that have rotation as in a prep)
Toe strikes first backwards, then releases off heel (like smooth/standard)
 
#18
I compete in country 2-step at UCWDC (United Country Western Dance Council) events, and I know that the UCWDC certified judges do NOT want the dancers to close the foot (step together) on any step in country 2-step. In the past, it was standard for Country 2-step be danced with the foot stepping together on the 2nd quick, but now the top competition dancers and teachers have the foot pass the other foot on every step, to make the dance smoother.

...here are some conventions:

A "step" will indicate a movement of a foot which has a weight change [NOTE: this is a narrow definition]
A "STEP" will be a "dance step" which may be composed of one or more steps or STEPs
examples:
A glissade is a STEP composed of one gliding step
A chasse is a STEP composed of two steps, one foot closes to the other, chasing the other which takes the weight; it may be described as a coupe STEP followed by a glissade STEP
A waltz STEP is composed of three steps [exceptions: hesitation waltz and (depending on perspective) 5/4 waltz]

A condensed description of the "two step" is to execute a glissade STEP followed by a chasse STEP. Hence the "two step" is a "two STEP" composed of a glissade STEP and a chasse STEP. In simpler terminology, this is "step close step". (Some people prefer to think of chasse as "step close" ... for them the two STEPs are a chasse STEP followed by a glissade STEP.)

....

The two-step is step forward on the first foot, close the other foot up to it in third position behind, then step forward on the first foot again. Done walking forward, backward, or turning.

The two step, usually counted Quick-Quick Slow-Slow, is done to fairly fast music (at least 170bpm)....
 

opendoor

Well-Known Member
#20
Hi, I am no C2S dancer but I saw many couples on YT dancing in fine C&W costumes. So may it also be a question if the guy is wearing cowboy boots with high heels?
 

Dance Ads