Sway is an inclination (lateral-flexion) of the body and may be defined as being made towards or away from the moving leg.
It may be used for various purposes, including: maintaining balance, initiating a movement, increasing the speed of a movement or improving the aesthetics of a figure.
Swaying in the opposite direction to that of the movement itself (away from the moving leg) tends to decrease speed and improve balance, whilst swaying in the same direction as that of the movement itself (towards the moving leg) tends to increase the rate of acceleration and therefore achieve greater speed.
The amount of Sway used depends on the type of ﬁgure danced and the desired visual effect.
More specifically, there are three different types of Sway:
- Technical Sway
This is the basic form of Sway, which involves the entire body (from foot to head). Normally this action can be perceived in the hip area.
- Releasing Sway (or Broken Sway)
This type of Sway only involves the upper part of the body, leaving the hip position unvaried.
It is produced by shortening (Releasing) one side and the consequent lengthening of the opposite side, thus creating a more pronounced inclination, which in turn produces a greater visual effect.
- Cosmetic Sway
This very slight inclination is produced mainly by the shoulders and shoulder blades.
The level of the shoulders changes without greatly altering the neutral position of the head. Also in this case one side of the body releases, consequently lengthening the opposite side.
Some examples of Sway application
- Technical Sway is used to a small degree in every basic figure, normally together with one of the other two Sways.
- Releasing Sway is used on Step 4 of the Drop Oversway in Tango.
- Cosmetic Sway is used on Steps 2 and 3 of the Feather Step in Slow Fox.
When there isn't any Sway in the chart the term Straight is used. Straight means: No sway or Recover to neutral position.