42. Fourteen Step

Skated to 6/8 or 4/4 time, this is a bright dance—and it is the first one you have encountered where the partners do differ­ent steps. It is skated in regulation ballroom position, with the lady starting backward facing the man. So the first thing to learn is a start (Diagram 13) that puts the lady in place for the opening steps.

Stand side by side, the lady on the man's right, his right hand clasping her left. Both stroke a ROF roll (4 beats), with the man making sure he follows his partner (his tracing tracking hers) as they swing their free legs forward. Now, with the lady out ahead, they both step LOF (toward the barrier—or ice edge) for one count. On count 2 of the music the lady turns a LOF three to LIB, while the man takes a RIF.

On counts 3 and 4 the lady steps ROB and the man LOF while the lady, who is now facing the man, places her right hand in his left. She now does a LOB roll and he a ROF roll for four beats during which they close in to regular dance position; that is, the man slips his right hand behind the lady's back, placing it firmly between her shoulder blades; she rests her curved left elbow on his raised, curved right elbow and places her left hand against the front of his right shoulder in such position that she can exert pressure against him through her left arm (this is one of the ways the partners maintain an equidistant, parallel posi­tion throughout the dance); the man meanwhile strokes directly in front of and close to the lady, holding out his left, or guide, arm at a comfortable height, with the elbow neither rigidly straight nor yet crooked.

After this final roll (man ROF, lady LOB) curving toward the barrier, you are both ready to start the dance proper (see Dia­gram 14). As this introduction is used for many different dances, it is wise to work on it separately until all your footwork and timing is neat and your placing comes automatically. Of course you realize that, as in ballroom dancing, facing partners match their footwork by stepping always on opposite feet. Thus the lady's first LOB corresponds exactly to the man's ROF, etc.

On studying the diagram, you will at once discover that the man's part is the same as the ten-step we learned back in chapter III, with a few minor variations in foot placement and the addi­tion of a three-step progressive sequence and a ROF roll. Four steps plus 10 equal 14—hence its name.

Simple, isn't it? The lady's part, as is often the case, is considerably more difficult than the man's, which is no more than justice considering that he must do the leading, often under crowded conditions. And he must lead, and the lady must trust him implicitly. There is nothing more ruinous to a look of unity than a lady who is con­stantly turning her head to make sure she is being guided safely.

Points to observe particularly:


The first progressive steps must start toward the barrier and the roll toward center ice, so that the first progressive steps of the ten-step itself will start toward the barrier and continue in a curving pattern around the ends.


The lady must not turn too sharply as she goes from back­ ward to forward on step 8, but must gauge her stroke to stay parallel to her partner's RIF preparatory to his mohawk.

3. Note step 9 is a cross behind for the lady.

4. All these end steps are skated with the partner's shoulders parallel to the tracings and equidistant from each other.

5. Steps 10 and 11 for the lady form a progressive sequence, and here the man exerts enough pressure on her back to draw her slightly ahead of him in order to facilitate an easy turn of her open mohawk and a neat transition to the facing position once more as she steps from ROB to LIB. This LIB is put down at the heel of the right skate which then lifts straight forward to match the man's backward free leg on this final stroke before the repetition..

6. The roll must be skated at a good pace with a strong lean of the body to make the pattern of the entire dance come out correctly. It is also fun to add still another set of three steps, in­cluding the progressive, plus an extra roll down the side at the beginning of the dance. This turns it from a fourteen-step to an eighteen-step, which is particularly good on a large ice surface.

The swinging of the free legs on the rolls should be relaxed and perfectly synchronized but should not be so vigorous that it seems out of control. Watch the timing of the steps carefully, noting that except for the third step after each progressive se­quence and the final step (all two beats each) and the rolls (four beats each), every other step is only one beat. This makes for a lively rhythm and means that soft knee action is the necessary ingredient to real flow, clean stroking, and steps that are danced, not walked or raced.

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