Dance: Tender Moment Waltz
Choreographer: Rita Masur
Music: “Their Hearts Are Dancing” by the Forester Sisters
Description: 48 count, 1 wall beginner waltz
Different listings of this dance mention a large number of alternative musics, but as I have only danced to “Their Hearts are Dancing” I will focus on that for the purpose of this review. Certainly like many beginner waltzes it is not hard to change the music and still have it fit well.
“Their Hearts Were Dancing” is another sweet waltz song, with a nice moderate beat and a gentle flow, so it’s easy to see why it was chosen for this dance. If a trickier dance were being choreographed to this song, I would expect it to have probably one restart, but leaving it out in the interest of keeping the difficulty down is perfectly acceptable to me.
As to the dance, the first thing that sticks out is the fact that it’s a 1 wall dance. The original 1 wall waltz is, of course, “Waltz Across Texas”, which also happens to be 48 counts. “Waltz Across Texas”, though, has a few more turns and travels a lot more than “Tender Moment Waltz”, which doesn’t count against it for me, but may for others who prefer dances to use a decent portion of the floor. However, I would note that with very little effort it’s possible to turn “Tender Moment Waltz” into a 4 wall dance by changing the 1/2 turn in counts 37-39 to a 1/4 turn, and I don’t think that it’s unreasonable to make that change while keeping the level of the dance at beginner while at the same time adding an iota of variety for more advanced dancers. It would depend a lot on the instructor and the class, and whether this is aimed as an “ultra beginner” dance or more for dancers who have already learned half a dozen or so of those.
The dance starts with four quarter turns in a sort of “star” shape on the floor, a step I find quite appealing for a number of reasons, not least because it’s a gentle way of introducing dancers to the four walls of the room. It’s followed by side back rocks (aka “balance steps”), which I don’t mind on their own but are a little tricky to do coming out of the star.
Counts 19-30 and 31-42 are the same – forward point, back point, half turn waltz, basic waltz back. There are also several reasons why I like these steps. Firstly, the repetition is absolutely essential to keeping the dance at the beginner level – as I mentioned before, the last half turn could be changed to make the dance cover four walls, but otherwise altering these steps would bump up the difficulty probably past where the choreographer was aiming. Secondly, I like breaking up the turns with the forward point, back point steps. After the initial full turn in 12 counts, this slows things down so that it takes 24 counts to get all the way around, and invokes extra elements of symmetry in the step patterns. Thirdly, each of the 12 counts is split across two sets of 12, rather than fitting neatly in a slot. This introduces a different kind of symmetry again, and by preventing the dance from being divided into straight sets adds to the flow.
The final steps are also repeated from earlier in the dance – counts 43-48 are the same balance steps from counts 13-18. Here, as earlier, they have the problem that they start side movement when the dancer’s momentum is preparing to travel forward, making them feel out of place. It’s hard to say what would go better in their place, but it would almost certainly involve less lateral motion.
Ignoring the issue with potential restarts the dance fits the music well, and it introduces some basic waltz concepts that are highly important for beginners to grasp. I dislike the placement of the balance steps, but otherwise find the dance gentle and pleasing.