Since RISE is elevating the body (by straightening the legs), NO RISE would seem to mean NOT elevating the body. And in some cases, that is true. But the more general meaning is actually NO CHANGE in height.

In Waltz and Foxtrot, all the basic figures start having lowered at the end of the previous figure. In general we lower to our ‘set height’, i.e. the amount of knee bend that is normal of you.

If you execute a step with NO RISE, you should be at the same height when you put full weight that foot as when you were standing on the previous foot.

Here is a simple way to understand NO RISE:

  • Find a table, or ballet barre, or counter top that you can stand next to.
  • Stand with your feet together, your LEFT hip next to the barre (table, etc.), weight on your LEFT foot and your feet parallel to the barre. (Free foot away from the barre.)
  • Touch the barre with your LEFT hand.
  • Bend your knees to your set height, with your RIGHT knee higher than your LEFT knee and your RIGHT heel well off the floor.
  • Look and see where the top of the barre is relative to your body.
  • Take a forward step, transferring 100% of your weight onto your RIGHT foot.
  • Make sure you are stepping with a HEEL lead, i.e. your heel of your foot touches the floor first, then as you complete the weight transfer, your foot goes flat.
  • Your step should also be straight forward so that your foot is parallel to the barre.
  • The step should end with the knee of the free leg (LEFT in this case) pointing down towards the floor and the free foot behind you. Do NOT draw the feet foot under the body. In most cases you do not want to collect the free foot.
  • Look again and see if the barre is at the same place relative to your body.

If YES, good. That is NO RISE.
If NO, then try again.

Actually, try it again anyway. Practicing simple actions helps to create a stronger foundation for your dancing. Get really good at the fundamental techniques so that when you combine the technical elements into increasingly complex figures, you still have control over them.

Once you can easily take a forward step from your LEFT foot to your RIGHT foot and maintain your set height, then turn around so that your RIGHT hip is near the barre and repeat stepping from your RIGHT foot to your LEFT foot.

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