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6. Side Whisks
Fact Sheet
Official Name:Side Whisks
Dance / Level:Intermediate Bronze American Viennese Waltz
Aliases:Fifth Position Breaks, Side Balance Steps, Fifth Position Balance Steps, Side Cross Hesitations, Whisks to Left and Right

Whisk is a generic term for a crossing of one foot behind the other. There are many types of Whisk in both American and International style; The Side Whisks are the most fundamental. They are so named because they begin on count 1 with a side step, followed by a rock step on counts 2 and 3 with feet in Whisk (crossed) position.

Many dance schools refer to Side Whisks as Fifth Position Breaks, as the crossed position of the feet is very close to what classically-trained dancers describe as Fifth Position. Another common name for this same figure is Side-Cross Hesitations, because although they are not taken with hesitation timing, the stationary nature of the rock step on counts 2 and 3 cause some people to perceive the action as a type of hesitation. They are also very similar to the basic Ballet action known as Balancé, and so other common aliases are Balancés, Balencetes, or Balance Steps.

Note: Although the man's and lady's parts describe the Side Whisks in succession, each individual Whisk can be isolated and danced in combination with other figures, (e.g. a single RF Side Whisk taken preceding and following 1-3 Left Box Turn).

Whisks may be danced in closed position with or without turn. When danced with turn, the man and lady turn in same direction) to left or right, up to 1/8 turn per Whisk. This can be useful for aligning oneself in the room to set up for figures with more specific alignment requirements, such as Twinkles, Cross-Body Leads and Side-by-Side Changes.

The most basic version of the Side Whisk is danced without turn in closed position, and can be repeated as desired. Because of the restricted position and nearly oppositional direction of the second step, as well as the speed of the steps taken at Viennese Waltz tempo, only partial weight can be taken to the crossing foot.

In addition to closed hold, Side Whisks are often danced in open facing position. Open Whisks can be taken with a one- or two-hand hold, using the same positions and amounts of turn as either the basic Whisks described above, or the promenade and counter-promenade Whisks described below. When danced with a one-hand hold, a common variation involves turning opposite the normal direction (e.g. a RF Side Whisk with LH-RH hold turns to counter-promenade rather than promenade), resulting in a broader, fuller position.

6b. Side Whisks to PP & CPP

A common variation of Side Whisks involves opening to promenade and counter-promenade positions by having man and lady turn 1/8 in opposite directions.

When taken with turn, the Side Whisk to Left will open to counter-promenade at the end of step 1 (man turning to right, lady to left), while the Side Whisk to Right will open to promenade position (man turning to left, lady to right).

Side Whisks to PP and CPP can be repeated as desired, turning the appropriate amount (as described in the charts) to achieve promenade and counter-promenade positions. If the RF Side Whisk to PP is to be followed by a figure starting with a forward step, the man will lead the lady to turn 1/4 to her left at the end of count 3, in order to blend the movement smoothly into the following figure.


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