Swing Discussion Boards > Advice on a teaching technique?

Discussion in 'Swing Discussion Boards' started by pinkcaddy, Mar 4, 2008.

  1. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    "If the couple just takes out the slow sensual stuff and puts in quicker feet to keep up with the music, the whole tone of the dance is very different."

    And as far as I can tell this is exactly what happens when the music gets faster.
    There are other things that can go on in the music that preclude slow and sensual, too.

    And, there is actually a streching out of a musical phrase, or simply holding a note(s) for a l.. o.. n.. g time that I like a fair amount of "pull" on too. But it's more of a "I am resisting this because I want to stretch out this motion and it takes two bodies working togther to get that feeling" thing.
  2. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    Perhaps the more experienced dancers will jump in with suggestions? From what I hear the ladies around me describe in a good lead, there is almost never any pulling or pushing regardless of the dance. Perhaps you might need to prep the move just a tad earlier so it never feels like a push or pull?
  3. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Aiii, kayak, I guess I'm not making myself clear.

    I don't to want dance a partner dance where I am barely connected to my partner.

    I don't want to dance the same way to all songs.

    I related the quote about how I agree with the "more "push pull" as the music speeds up" quote to start a discussion, and see what people had to say about it. That quote is something I agree with, but I am not surprised that not everyone else does.

    I am not asking for advice. Neither am I giving it. But it IS something I would like people to think about.
  4. leftfeetnyc

    leftfeetnyc New Member


    Steve, I think Kayak was refering to the style/ambiance of a specific dance in regards to tempo, not the amount of push/pull needed to keep up.

    Regardless of tempo - 260bpm lindy or 110 WCS - there should be no push or pull. Ever. Even in your drawn-out strech moves. No pull. No push. The difference in feel is simply because of a difference in tempo - not because we have to suddenly push or pull more or because tempo makes push and pull more noticable. That sped-up tempo is no different from walking at varying paces. We're still walking the same way but speeding up.

    You should be supporting your own weight at all times*. Both partners. Regardless of tempo or swing style.

    If you have to push or pull than one of you is either not supporting your own weight or is about to not be supporting your own weight. Which is a problem as you should both be in control of your own bodies at all times. As a follower, I appreciate two things 1) my shoulder remaining in my socket (and yes, even a slight little bitty pull can hurt) and 2) I don't like to fall over.

    In regards to moves that stretch out and hang on a little longer - You are matching weight. If pull is needed to get out of the strech, than one of you gave more weight than the other. Watch clips of the pros, it looks effortless - because it is; because they are not supporting one another's weight.

    If you lead with your arms/hands - you will push and pull. It's inevitable. In order to move someone this way you have to push or pull them to get them where you want them. When you lead with the body your follow will move naturally with you. The arms/hands are just the connectors to the center, everything starts in your center - connection included, therefore your arms/hands are simply an extention of that.

    If you walk backwards while I face you, holding hands, arms relaxed (leading from center); I will follow. If you pull me or push me (leading with arms/hands); I will resist or fall on top of you.

    Sarah Van Drake has a great example of the "lead with your center" concept using that precise exercise. In a class she will ask the nearest woman to demonstrate with her, takes her by the hand and and brings her to another spot on the floor. Guess what, the woman followed! Sarah led! There was no pushing or pulling - as Sarah's body moved to a new location, so did the woman! At all times Sarah's arms were relaxed and she simply walked as she normally would while holding someone's hand.

    That's how dancing works - same as walking with someone - If one of us pushes or pulls we stumble, we resist and then try to catch up. And that doesn't make for an enjoyable dance.

    *The only time you are not is in specific weight supported moves like a dip, in which case each partner should still remain in control and the dipped party is still supporting a good amount of their weight.


    You can have any degree of connection (light heavy and inbetween) while leading with your center. Promise. You can remain extremely connected or not so. It had NOTHING to do with the arms short of the fact that they are there and how we touch one another.
  5. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    Sorry Steve, I didn't mean to offend you. I should have asked the others for their experiences instead of suggestions?

    Just put my contribution to the discussion in the no push/pull, lead with your center, prep early, make the connection longer or shorter to fit the music speed column.
  6. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    "At faster speeds the partners become more upright and the connection shortens with more of a "push and pull" feel and look."

    Everyone can argue about the validity of that statement, but how would you all adress this as an instructor?

    OK. So now we have two opinions that address this question with the answer that the statement is not valid?

    Oh, is this a good time to bring up the Sugar Push and the 8 count whip?
  7. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    Are you suggesting those aren't led with the leaders body?
  8. leftfeetnyc

    leftfeetnyc New Member

    Not a valid statement and the concept of a body lead is the same for the sugar push and whip (no need to call it an 8 count whip seeing as a 6 count one isn't a whip and any extention gets you further away from actually being a whip).
  9. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Nope, asking about the "push and pull" part.

    The Sugar Push isn't a push?
    The Whip has no pull?
    (We had a fun thread a while ago with elastic bands and everything else. You may have been around for that one.)
  10. pinkcaddy

    pinkcaddy New Member

    As an instructor who has been partner dancing for 13 years, I much prefer a "heavier connection" at high speeds - whether you call that "connection", "push-pull look", or whatever, it's just my preference. I guess to each his own. I don't mean pulling one's arms off - I mean feeling the counterbalance between your partner more. I have danced with men who have a very light connection and I don't like it as much.

    I think this is just personal preference.
  11. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    I think being able to make the leads heavier or lighter, tighter or more elastic, etc. without needing to pull or push regardless of the music speed would be one of the definitions of a good leader.
  12. Dancelf

    Dancelf Member

    With the rider that my answers may not apply to open dance forms where a "slow" tempo is 160bpm or higher....

    1) The sugar push ain't no push.
    2) The whip has no pull.

    General rule - changes to the follower's linear momentum are not initiated using the muscles of the arm.

    A slightly different way of thinking about this is that partner already knows how quickly she has to move (she's listening to the same music that you are); what she doesn't know yet is where she's supposed to be going. (There's a small lie hiding in this statement - but if you get to the point where you recognize the lie, the lesson has done its job.)
  13. leftfeetnyc

    leftfeetnyc New Member

    Rider not needed - it applies to the 160bpm+ tempo as well.
  14. d nice

    d nice New Member

    If you removed the question marks I'd agree with this.

    And that statement about having to put more push pull or get more verticle when moving faster... physics and bio-mechanics say other wise. For those unfamiliar with the principles I'm talking about check out any of Whitey's Lindy Hoppers film clips or check the way sprinters run versus the way a speed walker walks.

    And how do I address this as a teacher? I have the students pair up... one is the attacker the other is the defender. They may not touch, but the defender must keep the attacker from getting past them. As soon as they get into the game the students bodies lower themselves, their stance widens their hips pull back, they balance on the balls of their feet and spine and hips relax. A defender who stands with an erect spine is quickly passed, an attacker who does this finds themselves never finding an opening, the defender is there almost before they are.

    These are functions of how our bodies move. Some dances seek to remove the visceral and instinctive style of movement and replace it with something more intellectual or stylized. There is nothing inherently wrong in this... just as there is nothing inherently more correct about the former. A dance is a form of personal expression but dances are specific sets of aesthetics under which that personal expression is intended to be done. There is no right or wrong when it comes to choosing a dance that has a movement style you enjoy.
  15. d nice

    d nice New Member

    As to learning/teaching lindy hop... the arms in lindy hop should be as relaxed as possible. The bicep, tricep, and deltoids will engage as needed to keep the arms toned while executing moves, but an attempt to control the arm will usually result in using too much muscle and that is when things start get "army."

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