1. funkyfreak

    funkyfreak New Member

    Not picking on your post at all, because it was good, but it brings up a good point:

    Please don't SQUEEZE the follow to you. The connection between the lead and follow should be generally established and held without the need of that right arm.


    p.s. oh, and listen to anything Heidi ever says ;)
  2. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Hi funkyfreak. Nice to see you. :D
  3. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    Well if a lovely lady asks me nicely... :wink: :)
  4. DWise1

    DWise1 Well-Known Member

    Right, you don't latch onto her and hold her tight in that close-in position. As we're taught, you both lean your upper bodies into each other's. But since some guys (beginners especially) are shy and uncomfortable with that, they end up setting their frame to hold her out there a couple/few inches. So by "holding her close", that is to say that you allow her upper body to contact yours and your right arm will then go where it naturally would.
  5. Hepwooster42

    Hepwooster42 New Member

    In my experience, the correct basic step will lead easily into a come-around without worrying about a rock-step. If the lead does *Step Back-Together-Step-Hold* for his come-around 1-2-3-4, and begins twisting his torso after the 2, then he should execute the come-around nicely-- a rock-step may give you a few more degrees of turning, but in my opinion it doesn't look as fluidly Balboa as doing it without the rock-step.

    A lot of old timers would begin their bal by something that people often mistake as a rock-step. It's actually an "out-and-in." That's the lead leading a tiny elastic stretch from the hips and torso--as if bungee chords were attatched to both partner's a few inches above the butt, and someone decided to give them a small tug at the same time. It's the same technique they use for their cross-overs and many other parts of bal-swing.

    Out-and-inning into a come-around is fun for the whole family. Starts every dance off with a "wheee!"
  6. hepcat

    hepcat Member

    Absense of Bal Follows

    Bal is awesome. I love it. I started teaching myself from DVDs back in January and I organized a bal practice every Thursday here in Santa Fe. I bring my laptop and we get moves from various DVDs. Plus, I bring back moves from various events I attend, such as the recent Camp Hollywood. However, I now find myself without a decent bal follow. :cry: I started to learn with this one friend of mine who moved away to go to school, but there was a new follow in town at the time who came from California and she was already at my level (well actually, above my level, at least in most cases). She's great, but I made the mistake of falling for her (since she only wants to be friends) and now she's not showing up anymore and it's all weird. There's another girl who I consider the best bal follow in Santa Fe (if not NM) who learned it effortlessly, but she's an on-call nurse and hardly makes it to any of the dances, let alone the practices I set up. I'd like to find a bal partner who I can practice with, but that's all the experienced follows and I'm having an awfully hard time teaching the connection to newbies. I'm ending up with a sore back from them either clamping onto my shoulder or leaning in and stiffening up. I can get them to relax for a couple eight counts, but they quickly stiffen up again or clamp down or put their weight over their heels (stressing my back). I recently learned from Nick at Camp Hollywood that I can protect my back by simply not compensating for the loss of connection (either when they lean or put their weight over their heels) and not tighten up when they do. He basically said there's nothing you can do to compensate and that you just have to pray you get through it. However, I'd like to know how better to convey how the connection should be. I know it when I feel it, but it seems despite my best efforts at describing it, I can't seem to properly convey it. Maybe it just takes awhile to learn and I just need to keep practicing it with them and they'll eventually get it... I don't know. I've tried a few different tacts in teaching it (and by the way - no one bal'd in Santa Fe (except for a few couples visiting from Albuquerque) before I started it up, so I hope I can keep it alive by learning how to teach it better).

    Stay "up" - don't slump the shoulders or lean (toward or away)
    Keep your center over your toes
    Relax into the connection such that if the lead steps away, you may slightly feel off balance and have to step forward, but don't fall over
    Give a little forward energy
    Stay loose - don't tighten up

    I prefer a connection from the stomach to chest, but I've seen good bal dancers who aren't connected at the stomach. How different should the feel of that be? Because some beginners tend to only connect at the chest and it feels weird to me & I don't know how to instruct them on that connection. I don't know if it's due to stiffening up or what, but I don't feel like I have enough to lead with and I've never bal'd with a good follow who only connects at the chest. I've only danced with those who connect all the way down to the stomach. I've tried teaching the full stomach-to-chest connection because that's all I know.

    Stomach connection aside, how can I better explain the connection? Are there any exercises that help demonstrate how the connection, or some aspect of the connection, should feel? What aspect should I work on first (i.e. which aspect is more important/foundational)?: Where your center should be, looseness, posture, etc. or should I try and teach it all at once (like I've been trying to do).

  7. Hepwooster42

    Hepwooster42 New Member

    Hmmm...interesting question. Especially because "connection" could mean a hunderd things. Anything specific? You should be able to do pure bal without having your hands and arms connected to each other. That's a great exercise we do in our classes. It's hard, too, especially for beginners. But if you can play around in Bal with just a chest to chest connection and nothing else, you're doing it right.

    In my opinion they are all intertwined enough that you shouldn't worry about seperating them.

    The "connection" is simple if the follow always steps below her hips and shoulders, and the lead always leads with his chest first (feet second). this means that, for instance, in the basic, the lead thinks about moving his torso back on 1 and forward on 5, not his feet. The feet will follow the torso. ALSO, the lead needs to keep his steps small.

    There's another "connection" idea that a lot of the original Balboa leaders--but not many modern dancers-- used, that is currently referred to as the "lilt." This was done by Willie, Maxie, and Hal--though each way they did it looks different. Modern dancers like Steve, Nick, and Randy have pretty noticeable Lilts to their dancing. If you don't look at their feet and instead look at their shoulders, it looks like they are swaying slightly in a figure-8 pattern. (Lilt--kind of a lean, kind of a tilt--I think that's how it got it's name)

    The lilt makes it easier to lead people with just their chest connected (more classic Bal style). However, if a follow is connected only at the chest but is arching her back, then it will be very difficult to lead her no matter what she does. This is why she needs to have her shoudlers right above hips, right above balls of feet.

    However, yu don't really see lilts taught in most beginner classes. They are usually mentioned in private lessons or in Advanced classes, in my experience.
  8. socalswing

    socalswing New Member

    There's a bal event coming up in San Francisco the beginning of December (first weekend)

    If you're able to, going to any bal event is a great way to improve dramatically in just a few days.

    I suspect Heidi will be there :D
  9. Swingless

    Swingless New Member

    An instructor once told me that the follow should feel sort-of like she's got a pager attached to her belt and the pager's in vibrate mode. The lead provides the vibration by pulsing to the beat. I also found that a helpful exercise was to lead a follow around in closed position with no arms. Both dancers keep their hands at their sides as the lead leads the follow around in random directions. This seems to help the follow learn how to maintain a connection and once she's learned this the lead no longer tends to keep her crushed against his chest with his right arm.
  10. Flat Shoes

    Flat Shoes New Member

  11. BalboaSwing

    BalboaSwing New Member

    I would have to say that the Rock Step start is not the way to go. Way old school when people were teaching it and couldn't explain it very well or didn't really understand the nature of the dance.

    Although I know the big name teachers out there, Hi Heidi, would disagree with me, I prefer to start with a Hold on 3 with my left foot being held, then stepping forward on the 4 with my left. I think the reason this isn't taught as much is because the holds are being taught as a "box" stepping slightly to the side to let the follow know you are holding: Like a progresive Cha-Cha Basic with a small sideways rock step.

    The preffered method in Seattle and most everywhere I believe is stepping back for the lead, 1L 2R holding on the 3.

    I could also make a case for (lead) stepping onto the L on 2 holding the R foot on three then stepping back for 3R 4L. This starting point is a lot harder to hit since 2 is not the strongest beat. I would venture to guess most beginners would end up holding 2 and 6 with this start.

    If you talked to Willie Desatoff before he passed away recently: Balboa is rooted in Rumba. All the kids parents were dancing rumba that period and the kids wanted to dance to the fast swing music of the era. So they adapted it. Think about it, Break timing is Rumba. Lead int a Crossover Break and lead step back with your R instead of crossing and continue to lead a box, Slow, Quick Quick. Willie was all about break timing, he danced way more steps in break timing than in "regular" Balboa time.

    Someone else mentioned this, but I will take a second to elaborate: Balboa is only danced a closed postion. This the way the "first" generation, the college kids, danced it. The High School kids got tired of this quickly and added all kinds of turns, spins, slides and drops to it, creating what they called Bal-Swing.

    There is also some history that points to the clubs where the college kids danced didn't allow breakaways, open position. If a couple was caught in open position three times they were ejected from the club. It wasn't allowed because the dance halls were so crowded.
  12. hepcat

    hepcat Member

    I ran across a pretty good bal history while perusing thelindyhop.com the other day. I wouldn't say I think it's 100% accurate, but it's probably one of the more accurate accounts out there... It's a great read: well written - and even has a couple shots of the Rendezvous Ballroom and Balboa Pavilion where it purportedly started. It's also got a shot of maxie dorf in his navy uniform.

  13. It's Wonderful

    It's Wonderful New Member

    Good read, and excellent photos. Thanks hepcat!
  14. BalboaSwing

    BalboaSwing New Member

    Somewhere in this thread someone mentioned that the connection for Balboa in at chest level and that a leader should lead from the chest first. I would like to suggest an alternative:
    Leads, in any dance you must lead first from your center. A good Balboa connection should extend from approximately the lower part of the sternum down to the middle of the thigh. Yes, that much! If you find this difficult, ensure first that you partner is slightly offset to the right, and that they turn out a degree or two clockwise. Leads, your right arm should not be horizontal to the floor, your hand should be lower than you elbow. Also your hand is not your point of contact. You should be connecting into the bend of your arm. I often don't even have my hand on the ladies back unless I am doing Bal-Swing and leading movements that use a swivel action.
  15. hepcat

    hepcat Member

    Yeah, definitely you lead from your center. That's probably understood here, but it's good to say it explicitly for the beginners reading this. I think thigh connection is optional though - a matter of either preference, or the move being lead. It depends on a number of things. In fact, I learned a lead with the thigh at Rendezvous a couple weeks ago. Reminds me of a tango move. I'll sometimes dance with a thigh connection, but we should also stipulate that that doesn't mean there's a hip connection either. Connecting at the hips is a no-no.

    I never thought about my hand position relative to my elbow. I'll have to pay attention next time and see where I put it, but you're right: the hand isn't involved in the closed connection. In fact, I'd go as far as to say that your arm isn't either. If you're doing it right (and this is a good exercise) you should be able to do pure balboa with your arms behind your back (both lead's and follow's arms). Let me stipulate that with the words "in theory". Besides, who would want to dance that way. I often tell students that if they find they are squeezing their partner (lead or follow), then it can be a sign that you're compensating for your partner's lack of forward energy. It's not the only reason someone squeezes, but it's a possible indicator. That's why I encourage students to dance with their arms behind their backs so that they don't start to compensate for a broken connection by squeezing and get used to how much forward energy they need to have. Thus, the lead's arm behind the follow's back should be rested there rather loose and relaxed until you get into a more bal-swing position.

  16. leee

    leee Well-Known Member

    Dumb question: Maxie Basic is synonymous with the up-hold basic, yes?
  17. bookish

    bookish Active Member

    I believe the "standard" Maxie basic involves upholds but something with upholds is not necessarily Maxie. Also, what gets taught today is a simplified-for-teaching version of the specific stylings that original dancers used, as discussed in the comments here: http://swungover.wordpress.com/2010/05/18/a-way-too-breif-history-of-balboa/

    Quoting from there:

    There's a transcription here if you like: http://www.jitterbuzz.com/balbas.html . The version transcribed there is just steps with no kicks/taps etc. so it is pretty simple (although see below, only the simplified version is really simple...)

    I mean does this look like the basic in most beginner classes? ;) Granted he's throwing some triple steps in there too.

    leee likes this.
  18. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member


    Haile - learned from the swing dancers and Balboa was the first dance she taught for Arthur Murray in 1945 (no one else at the studio knew it)
    1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4
    B _ f _ (Tch) _ F f _ B _ (tch) _ b _

    Blair - There are some very ungenerous comments about Skippy in old threads here. She goes WAY back and didn't make this stuff up.

    Step, step, step, touch – step (EASY Basics use the touch on counts 4 and 8)

    Step, step, touch, step (with touches on count 3 and 7..) is the form currently being taught as the recommended basic) (touch or kick)

    Peter Loggins on Balboa part 1
  19. bookish

    bookish Active Member

    Well, yeah, you can boil it all down to just uphold or downhold. But the point I was quoting is that there's more detail that goes into the "basic" of a specific dancer. Including the steps (back-together is subtly different from back-back and quite different from a rock step), the non-step footwork (a tap is not a slide is not a kick), and the body movement (e.g. the lilt that was discussed both in this thread years ago and in the blog post I linked to.) Which is not to say that you have to copy a specific way of doing it. But, as always, there's more going on than just steps.
  20. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    So what exactly IS uphold?

Share This Page