1. leftfeetnyc

    leftfeetnyc New Member

    Just started learning Bal. Once I get going with the basic step, I'm fine. But getting started is a bear. My learning is (very) informal and the friend teaching me has me starting on my left (as a follower) which I find quite confusing.

    Anyway, despite few Bal posts here on DF I figured someone could set me straight. (D-Tas...you're the resident swing guru, I'm assuming you know..and can maybe give me a little Bal history as I know none!)
     
  2. DWise1

    DWise1 Well-Known Member

    The woman is always right. While there are a few exceptions, in just about every single partnered dance out there the follow's first step is with her right foot while the lead's is with his left foot ("And the guy gets left behind.").

    Balboa is not one of those exceptions. He starts out by stepping back with his left foot, drawing you to step forward with your right.

    I'm not sure what it was derived from, but Balboa developed in Southern California in the 1930's, either in the Newport Bay area (as in the Balboa Pavilion) or in San Diego (as in Balboa Park), depending on which stories you hear. It's properly danced only in closed position, but some swing moves have been added to turn it into bal-swing. Some of the original balboa dancers still go out to Bobby McGee's in Brea, Orange County, a couple Sundays a month (see http://www.lindyhopping.com/thisweek.html).

    You might also want to visit Balboa Nation at http://balboanation.com/.

    And, yes, you do indeed want him to hold you that close. Otherwise you'll have a hard time feeling his lead. It's a body lead. I've actually heard women complain that the guys don't hold them close enough so they can't feel his lead.
     
  3. leftfeetnyc

    leftfeetnyc New Member

    Glad to know I wasn't going crazy! I said the same thing...woman starts right...but ended up just going with the flow. The body lead never bothered me...although I can imaging how much a weirdier it must be to get a creepy partner in bal than more open dances like WCS!

    Thanks for the links. I could not rememeber the balboanation site for the life of me!
     
  4. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    Another one of those dances that i learnt the basic and it sort of got forgotten due to disuse... :oops:
     
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  5. blue

    blue New Member

    Balboa has just recently come here in any kind of scale. Currently the major swing society in town offers some balboa events + the Harlem Hotshots offer classes. You don't see many people balboa-ing on the dance floors yet, but I guess it is soon to come. I think I'll pick it up... later. Not now.
     
  6. genie

    genie New Member

    In bal, your first step as a follow is a rock step. Then you kick to the behind with your right foot. So.... rock step (r), kick (r), step, step, step, kick (forward with left), step, step, step, kick (to to back with right), etc.

    Those kicks can be done either as a very, very small kick, a tap, a tiny split slide, a circular sweep, etc. Make up your own variation and be creative!

    Isolation is the key! All the movement is from the knees down, so don't sway your hips or your shoulders (doing so will throw the lead off). Snuggle up to the guy the same way you would in bed and just sink into him so you can pick up on all those body leads (i.e., from his belly, shoulder or his thigh).

    Just like any other dance, the other key is to relax. In Bal, if you aren't relaxed (or your partner isn't), it REALLY shows and it will affect the dance more obviously. The whole dance will look awkward and forced and you'll miss leads.

    And my last thought on bal is.... don't do it only to fast music. People wrongly believe that bal is really done just to fast music. When you start out, do it to a lot of slow and mid tempo music. You MUST learn it slow before you can do it fast. It is 10 times more demanding when done to fast music.

    Enjoy!
     
  7. suek

    suek New Member

    I see/feel/follow this a little differently. Most often (but not always) the holds are on the 3 and 7. Your count here has them on the 2 and 6. It doesn't matter to the follow, however; the holds are completely determined by the leader. Also, whether the first step is a rock step or a step forward is also something that's led. As a follow, I do my best to step underneath myself and let my lead determine direction and where my body goes.

    Here I prefer to connect my chest to my lead's chest. There's occasional info from my lead's thigh/hip, but it's best to focus on the chest connection (and avoid those creepy lead/follow issues that can result from a full-body press). Plus there are all kinds of techniques that are invaluable to get some distance back when the connection is over the top. Rarely happens, good to know.

    It's really really hard to dance bal slow too. As with LH, under 100 and over 250 bpm is what's most challenging. Mid tempo is easiest.
     
  8. Flat Shoes

    Flat Shoes New Member

    A rock step in Bal? I'm a beginner myselv, but I've taken a few classes, and I don't think I've never heard of a rock step?

    What I've learned, and do as a lead, is leading the follow forward so she steps on her right foot on one. But I'm preparing the move on seven by moving our balance to my right and her left (is this what you, leftfeetnyc, mean by starting on your left, he tells you to have your weight on the left foot when starting?), so it's not an abrubt start on one.

    The basic (for follow) would then be:
    step rf(1) - step lf(2) - hold(3) - step r down(4) - step lb(5) - step rb(6) - hold(7) - step l down(8)
    quick(1) - quick(2) - slow(3/4) - quick(5) - quick(6) - slow(7/8)

    I consider kick'ing and other footwork as styling.
     
  9. suek

    suek New Member

    The move *should* be done leading the follow forward as your basic, but even some of the bal rock stars use a rock step now and then. Never as the default basic, though. Fact is the rock step is easier, because leading the follow forward demands the bal connection from the jump. I lead bal as well as follow and I agree that the balance and connection have to be established *before* the first One, as you say.

    Actually, the basic step for a follow *really* is step step step step step step step step step step step....... Think about it. The holds are led. They could be up holds, they could be down holds, the lead could to step for a straight 8-count, no holds, the lead could be for paddles, for crabwalks, for side steps--and that's all balboa, not even bal-swing. So just step, be light, and follow what's led. (Duh.)

    Yup.
     
  10. leftfeetnyc

    leftfeetnyc New Member

    Much thanks for all the imput!

    I havn't had a chance to try any of this out and like I said, I'm going off of one pseudo learning experience. But it was a lot of fun. Bal is being put on the back burner a bit in favor of some Carolina Shag learning for the time being in hopes of adding to my WCS footwork.
     
  11. genie

    genie New Member

    The rock step is how you start it off. After that initial start, you eliminate the rock step and you stick to the kick step step step kick step step step, etc. Sorry - I assumed people would be familiar. The rock step is also used to "reset" the couple if they get off.

    And of course the holds are on 3 & 7..... It's harder to write this stuff out than I thought - totally forgot to mention that!

    So if that kick/tap/sweep etc. is "only styling", what do you guys do when you aren't styling it? I guess we can call a kick "styling", but there is SO much more you can do in bal style wise. Triple bal - even the split slide on the hold - THAT'S styling.
     
  12. suek

    suek New Member

    I've gotta say it again. In my experience, the more experienced bal leads *do not* start w/a rock step. They can, they might--occasionally--but the default is a closed position lead back (the follow going forward) right into a basic.
    When I lead I think Step Step Hold Step Step Step Hold (when I'm doing a basic). When I follow I think Step Step Step Step Step Step..... and rely on my leader to lead the holds--and everything else!
    Again, a rock step *can* be used to reset. So can a hold, jockey, any kind of body lead in closed.
    A kick *is* styling. For a follow, the hold can be just that--a hold--or it can be a kick, a swoop, a triple, a tap. First and foremost, when I follow, I gotta match the "feel" of the leader. Then I can tart it up however I like. There are endless debates and chats on this stuff on balboanation, contributed by far more educated and expert folk than I. Please dive in.
     
  13. rails

    rails New Member

    I'm no expert, but yeah, I've never started a bal dance with a rock step. My favored way to begin these days is to squish up to my partner, move left, right, left through 6 beats establishing the connection and getting our bodies moving together, then do a hold 7, step 8 and go into a basic. And like Sue said, there's more than one Bal basic.

    I do, sometimes, use rock steps to transition from bal into a bal-swing move, but I've been exploring other ways to do that by watching better dancers. They seem to use rock steps sparingly or not at all from what I can tell.

    When I started learning tango, they had us take an embrace and do subtle weight shifts to get the partner communication going. I was immediately reminded of the way I start a bal dance. I'm a big fan of crossover.
     
  14. BalFatale

    BalFatale New Member

    Hey,
    Just surfing and found this, I know I don't normally post here but thought I'd lend my two cents. I'm not a big fan of the rock step to start. Mostly cuz it wasn't done that way in the 20's & 40's and because at temp (200 +) the rock steps feels like crap for the follows. So I perfer a start on 7 (like Rails says) and leftfeetnyc definately for the follows go forward with their right on 1. And yes, Rails you are correct, as for Steve & I, we use rock steps VERY sparingly in Bal-Swing (and for that matter Lindy Hop), about the only move in bal-Swig we use a rock-step is the Dream. We don't use them to go into turns, etc.


    :)

    Heidi

    Oh, and leftfeetnyc & Sagitta, we'll be in NYC June 6 -13 and teaching Balboa, Bal-Swing and some Lindy Hop at www dancemanhattan com June 11 & 12. Perhaps we'll meet you then. :)
     
  15. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    Thanks BalFatale. Don't be a stranger. Glad to get your 2 cents any time. :wink: :)
     
  16. d nice

    d nice New Member

    For those of you who don't know, Balfatale is Heidi Garret of Steve and Heidi Garret, undisputedly amongst the best of the best of the new generation of balboa and bal-swing dancers.

    They are wicked good and know the history of the dance as well as having a leading role in guiding its continued development.

    THe rock step was, if I remember correctly, taught primarily in the late 90's as a way to ease lindy hoppers and ECS dancers into blaboa from those dances. It is not actually the way the dance itself is led, but used as a way of transitioning. The better you are at balboa the easier it is to transition from lindy into bal without a rockstep (my favorite way personally is a lindy circle that turns itself into a come-around styled move).

    Genie you wrote your description correctly count wise, Sue probably forgot to count the rock and the step as seperate counts.
     
  17. jhpark

    jhpark Member

    I learned the come-around beginning with a rock step. I'm trying to imagine it without a rockstep, and can't figure it out. Does the leader start with back-together-forward? Or forward together forward? Or...?
     
  18. Flat Shoes

    Flat Shoes New Member

    If starting from after the transition step (or crossovers), I would use a rock-step. But I consider this a special case. Starting from close position, I would just step to the side while startingthe rotation.

    Disclaimer: Still a newbie when it comes to bal
     
  19. d nice

    d nice New Member

    It isn't so nmuch a rock step in cross-overs as a continuation of the cross over step itself, the same steps you would do on the one two of your second cross-over is the same steps you use to go into a come-around.
     
  20. swing4life

    swing4life New Member

    I just received your 3-DVD instruction and I have to say, WOW! I think this will take me awhile to even go through disc 1.
     

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