Maybe if you explained your question a little more, then you would get a few answers. I would think that as you work your way through the bronze syllabus you would start feeling very comfortable with the steps/figures at each stage. But, I don't see any reason to "avoid" any of them unless you are uncomfortable with the execution of a particular step. In such a case, it would take additional practice to ensure that you can execute the step properly. As the execution becomes more natural, then the step becomes more comfortable. It will vary from dancer to dancer.
Yes, it seems I need to rephrase my question. On the subject of good floorcraft in American Style Smooth, I'm looking for suggestions of figures to use to get out of a traffic jam. What patterns do you use to avoid running into a couple? Hope that makes more sense. Thanks!
In bronze Foxtrot and Waltz, figures that check and change direction are the quickest way to avoid a problem. Some of these you probably already know, such as Hesitation Left Turn (aka Left Rock Turn) and perhaps Promenade Check / Promenade Chair. Here are some ways to use those same patterns that you may not have been aware of:
(1) Just like Hesitations themselves, Hesitation Turns can be taken in any direction and on either foot -- forward, back or side. So as long as you're in closed position (or even close-ish, like outside partner right or left), you're literally always in a position to take a Hesitation. If you're moving forward onto the left foot, finish or check that step, then back out on your right foot into 4-6 of a Left Box Turn. Likewise, moving backwards on your right, and you can hesitate or check, then forward LRL into 1-3 Left Box or even Twinkle. Which half of which box you follow with depends on the direction and foot you took on the hesitation, e.g.:
LF forward, 4-6 Left Box RF forward, 4-6 Right Box LF back, 1-3 Right Box RF back, 1-3 Left Box or Twinkle
You can even hesitate or check a side step, e.g.:
LF side, follow with either 4-6 Left Box, 1-3 Right Box, or RF side RF side, follow with either 4-6 Right Box, 1-3 Left Box, or LF side
The normal timing of the hesitation turn is 1, (hold 23), 123 in Waltz, or S,SQQ in Foxtrot. But if you check instead of dancing a full hesitation, you can speed up the timing to 12&3 in Waltz or QQQQ in Foxtrot.
Hesitations and checks also work in outside partner position. In silver, there's a pattern called Outside Check and Develope', which is just a fancy Hesitation Left (or right) Turn. In bronze, this can be done without the develope'. In social dancing, if you lead the outside check, the lady might choose to do the develope' anyway.
The Promenade Check/Chair is also more flexible than most syllabus dancers realize. For starters, it is not necessary to dance it in the typical fashion, as a variation of the basic Promenade Walk (or in Waltz, Promenade Hesitation). It can be taken any time you're in promenade position, such as following any type of Twinkle, forward or back, natural or reverse, closed or brush.
There are also options for the exit to the Chair. Staying in promenade, you can step back and close, (count 2,3), rock back and replace (2,3), step back and hold (2, hold 3). To close up from promenade, an underturned slip pivot (man L, R) can back you out into 5-8 of Foxtrot Progressive Quarter Turns (lady outside partner on the first step). In Waltz, count it 1&23. Or back out of the Chair into a full slip pivot (2, 3) and start into any figure beginning forward on your left foot. Keep in mind that a full slip pivot should turn at least 1/4 if your aim is to avoid traffic; Otherwise you'll probably step right back into the problem you just checked out of.
If you're not familiar with any of the above mentioned patterns, they're all available in the Learning Center. The basic patterns such as Hesitation Left Turn are available free to the public. Premium membership is required for watching videos of advanced patterns such as Chair to Slip Pivot or Outside Check & Develope, but basic and non-members can still read the detailed written descriptions of the patterns.
Good luck and happy maneuvering!
Regards, Jonathan Atkinson www.ballroomdancers.com
Jonathan has presented you with a great wealth of information. But, your skill level will dictate what you feel comfortable doing. I still remember to this day when I was in my first competition and completely freezing when someone cut me off or strayed into my line of dance. My wife, or my instructor, would bop me and then I could continue on.
I progressed to the point where I could do a basic waltz box, or a hesitation, or a couple of the figures that Jonathan has recommended. As I have proceeded to move from "kindergarden to sixth grade" (beginning bronze to intermediate bronze), I now can observe the other dancers and have a good idea of where their line of dance will take them and then I can make the appropriate adjustment in my routine to avoid them. I can only drool at thought of the day I enter "high school" (silver) and can dance without any too much worry about those around me and I can only imagine what those "graduate students" (pros) think about. Well, they are probably worrying about running into those "kindergardeners" who don't know what they are doing!!
My bad humor aside, you will find it easier the more your skills increase. But, this problem will always be there, you will just learn how to handle it better.