Steps for the Percolator Dance

by Michael Monet

The steps to the Percolator dance are easy, but the rhythm and style will evolve and get better with time and practice. Rooted in the Charleston swing dance of the early 1900s, the Percolator makes use of the hips, pelvis, legs and feet. Once the bottom half of your body is coordinated, you can add in your arms for extra style.

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Legs

The legs are the most noticeable and important piece of the Percolator. To begin studying the movement, stand with your feet together. Move your knees outward -- the left knee to the left and the right knee to the right -- creating an angular shape between your legs. Close your knees together again and repeat in a slow, "flapping" motion. Step right, left, right, left, alternating feet as you flap your knees in and out. Practice with your feet together, standing in place, transferring your weight from your left to your right foot. Once you have this down, attempt to walk as you move your knees in and out. The Percolator is meant to be a step that travels across the floor.

Feet

To maintain balance and rhythm throughout the Percolator dance, shift your weight to the balls of your feet. Your heels shouldn't come up off the floor, but the majority of your weight is grounded in the balls of your feet instead of the heels. As you get comfortable moving your knees in and out, doing so with more range will cause your heels to flare in and out in time with your knees. This is where the Percolator really starts to resemble the Charleston. Practice coordinating your knee flare-outs with your heel flare-outs. Kick your feet up one at a time -- kick the left up when you transfer your weight to the right foot, and vice versa.

Hips

Gyration is an important stylistic aspect of the Percolator. Once you have the legs and feet down, practice moving your hips forward and backward as you move your knees in and out. The forward pump of your hips is a conscious action. The backward return of your hips is natural in order to maintain balance. If the beat of the song goes "one, two, three-and-four," you pump your hips forward on the one count, the two count, the three count and the four count, but skip the "and" between "three-and-four." In other words, pump on every whole beat, but skip half beats. If you try and pump too quickly or too enthusiastically, you will most likely lose balance.

Upper Body

Once your lower body is coordinated, you have down the basic steps to the Percolator. The upper body comes in for style. Some dancers like to flare the arms in a similar way to the knees -- in and out in an angular, flapping motion. Others enjoy trying the "wax-on, wax-off" style, where one hand moves in a circular pattern, then the next, all while you maintain your knees, feet and hips. Incorporate upper body when you know it won't cause you to fall over or lose the beat.

Performance

Put on a fast-paced, pop or hip-hop song with a strong, consistent beat. Count "five, six, seven, eight" to the beat, then start Percolating on the one-count. Step and flare your knees out, catching time as you switch your weight from the left foot to the right foot on each whole count. Incorporate your hips, elbows and hands. Practice to songs with different paces and beats to master the dance steps.

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