Country and Western > Basic CW2S with preps?

Discussion in 'Country and Western' started by vegas4x4, Mar 12, 2007.

  1. vegas4x4

    vegas4x4 New Member

    Hi All,

    I just recently started taking some private lessons for CW2S with my dance partner (we mainly do WCS) and I am finding that I am dancing great with my partner, but most of the girls I ask to dance socially out at the venues are having trouble following my leads.

    I'm trying to figure out if this is because I am leading poorly or perhaps the technique I am using is different than what the girls are expecting. I think most of the follows in my area have simply learned on the floor at the bars since there isn't much along the lines of group CW2S classes.

    For example, I was taught pretty much to only do inside turns from promenade. My instructor taught me to "set" the girl into promenade so we would be in promenade by the end of the 2nd slow. Most of the girls I dance with have clearly never been in promenade at all, so if I want to say get them into a wrap, I usually end up just kinda letting them out in front of me to a double handhold and then wrapping them up. Normally I would get the girl in promenade and then lead an inside turn and keep both hands and we end up in a wrap, I think that looks much better, but I am noticing the girls are clearly feeling awkward when I put them into promenade, so I avoid this.

    The other area I've found to be problematic is with preps. My teacher has taught us so far that you almost always prep the girl on the slows and turn her on the quick. For example, if I am in a wrap and I want to do a simple inside turn back to wrap, I will prep her slight in on the first slow, slightly out on the second slow, and then do the turn on the quicks and back to wrap. When I dance with my partner, it's great, but when I dance with other girls, they think I am leading the turns on the preps or sometimes I just get weird random results. It's not comforting!

    I guess I am just wondering if this sounds right? I know it's hard to explain in a forum posting, but mainly I am having problems with the preps. I am used to preps since we use them a lot in WCS in pretty similar ways, but it's not working well on the dance floor!

  2. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    I learned the same in/out prep technique and often find the same results. If the lady has taken classes, she absolutely expects the preps. If she hasn't, there is a huge tendency to start turning on the first prep. At first, it really confused me. What I find does work is a strong frame. Even if she starts to turn on the prep, the frame stops her. The other trick is to make the preps smaller. I know I had a tendency to make them too big and with more laps around the floor I find they can be pretty small. So I try to adjust them the right amount for each partner.
  3. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    I guess you're not trying this out at Gilley's? I don't remember having a problem like this the last two times I was there. In San Antonio there was at least one gal who actually said she felt uncomfortable in promenade.
    The woman can only feel a prep in promenade if she knows how to keep her hands connected to her body. If she has enough tone you should be able to feel her stepping. If she's feeling the prep she should be "rocking" or "swaying" along with the prep. If you don't feel that, she probably doesn't either.
    Where I am, I feel comfortable whispering, "this is a prep". Or you could just let it go to be on the safe side.

    On the prep for a 360 turn for the woman from a Wrap, keep the motion of the prep really small, don't let go of her hand, and be sure to use more energy when you want her to actually do the turn.

    It sounds like you might be mixing up your descriptions of promenade and wrap?
  4. vegas4x4

    vegas4x4 New Member

    Steve: Honestly, I've only been out to Gilleys once since we've started our CW2S lessons and so I haven't done too much dancing there. Specifically I was dancing out at Dylans and having these issues.

    I guess I should clarify my terminology to make sure I have it right. In promenade I am creating a V shape with the girl with my right hand at roughly her waist level and we are essentially walking forward down the line of dance together. By wrap position I mean the position where the lady does an inside turn and I keep both hands, this wraps her up to my right side and we are facing the same direction going down the line of dance.

    I agree that I know when the girl feels the prep, since she will respond with her whole body. It is possible I am giving too much of a prep, I'll try lightening up a bit.

    Your description of the 360 turn from wrap is pretty much exactly what I am doing. I find if the girl responds to the preps, it goes great, otherwise it just tends to be a bit of a mess.

    Obviously, I want to make the best dance for the girl, so what do you guys do if the girl doesn't follow the preps, just lead without them? Perhaps I just need more practice, but it feels funny leading a turn without preps. Without the preps it feels like - BAM, here is your turn as opposed to communicating that the turn is coming and the girl is ready and everything seems to flow better.

  5. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    I just copy/pasted from Wikipedia (and who would question Wikipedia? HAHAHA)
    Point is, the hand hold can vary. For some postions you have to let go of one hand. Course if you use the traditional right hand on her should position, I guess you aren't really letting go of her hand, cause you weren't holding it in the first place.

    Square and line dancing, Country/Western

    Main article: Promenade (dance move)
    In square dances the promenade is a side-by-side position, with the intention to move together forward. The dancers mya use various promenade handholds. Some of them are:
    • Basic promenade handhold: The lady extends her left hand horizontally, palm down, across the front of the gent, and he takes it in his left hand. He wraps his right arm around the lady’s waist gently, and places his hand near her waistline. As for her right hand, depending on her outfit she might hold on to a full skirt with petticoats, sway the skirt in time to the music as a flourish (“skirtwork”), or simply place her hand on her waist or the small of her back along with the man’s hand.
    • Skater’s handhold: Both hands are held in front of the partners at waist-level. The left hands are held in front of the gent’s waist; the right hands are held in front of the lady’s waist. The gent’s right arm crosses in front of the lady’s left arm.
    • Varsouvienne handhold (also called Shadow, Horseshoe, Cape Position): The man holds the woman's left hand with his left hand in front of her left shoulder. The man crosses his right arm behind the woman and holds her right hand with his right hand in front of the woman's right shoulder. The man's arm is held just above the woman's shoulder.
    • Cuddle or Wrap Position (also called Sweetheart or Sweetheart’s Wrap): The gent wraps his right arm around the lady’s waist; she wraps her left arm around her front to hold his right hand. She wraps her right arm over her left arm and across her front to hold his left hand. Hands are at waist level.
  6. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    Same for me . . . learned the same way, and at times, I still struggle with some partners. 2 Step is my worst dance, though I often feel like it was a struggle to get her through it, I do get compliments . . . or they're just being nice!

    I keep getting it beat into me that "it's all in the preps!"

    It still confuses me at times . . . but I have discovered what you say below.

    Strong frame, snappier, but smaller preps, don't over prep, as it it could indicate something else??? Some guys do it just like an orchestra leader - smooth, flowing arms . . .
  7. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    I'd say, if she's not reacting to the preps, and she does more or less what you are leading, go with it.

    One thing about country western places, at least in my experience, is that, although you are best off if you are polite, people aren't too hung up on "these are the rules" for dancing and how dare you...

    If she doesn't do exactly what you think you led, that can be fun, too. It takes a while, though, before you just can laugh and see it as a challenge.

    I've only had one partner who always insisted that I do preps. She was used to dancing choreagraphy, and disliked me throwing moves at her that we hadn't "rehearsed". One time she stopped in the middle of the floor, put her arms straight down at her sides like she was throwing a tantrum, and said, "Don't do that!" She's a really good friend, so I laughed at her and we walked off the floor. And, you know, we're still really good friends.

    Now, I try the preps. It helps you feel how well your partner responds to your lead, and how much control she has of her balance and momentum, how well she is connected to you, etc.
  8. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    I still do a prep because it helps me keep the timing and pace of my lead. Plus, there doesn't seem to be much reason to do it wrong if I know better. If the lady isn't responding to my prep, it is just a tiny bit of noise compared to a well defined turn being led. If she is starting to turn on the first prep, I hold my frame and stop the turn and then initiate the whole turn on the right beat. If she freezes, at her turn on the first prep being stopped, enough that we would be off beat for a turn on the QQ, I sometimes settle back in to promenade for another basic or two.
  9. bjp22tango

    bjp22tango Active Member

    Speaking from a follows perspective with only a little Country Twostep experience:

    I came into Country Twostep many years ago with a beginners East Coast swing mindset where the 'preps' are usually tuck turn related - meaning you compress into a "tuck" to move quickly in another direction, usually a quick spin.

    I know I was probably confusing the heck out of leaders who were trying to lead these "quiet" preps into turns (not spins) by reacting too quickly to the lead and trying to zoom out of their frame.

    Mainly, it was just my not understanding that the "prep" was a form of double tuck but done at a lower intensity than in the swing. Once I figured out I wasn't going anywhere at mach speed, it was easy to follow.:p

    I now consider the prep to be a shortened version of strut walks as in West Coast Swing. Does Country Two Step ever just do a series of those? Maybe if the follow got used to the feel of the strut walk over many beats, she wouldn't feel so strange when it was led in a set of two prior to the turn.

    kayak said
    I would say this is the correct way to handle it. She may "hear" the prep incorrectly at first, but if she is paying attention, she will pick it up eventually.

    While leading without the prep is possible, the prep was developed for a reason. It makes the follows movements so much easier. Train her to make use of it and she'll never want to go back to being "muscled" through something. Plus it looks so much more stylish to observers:cowboy:
  10. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    Yea, it seems like even if the lady has never experienced the prep motion, she starts to like it very quickly; sometimes even in the first song. I have only tried to follow in class and I found any hint about what is coming is welcome.
  11. vegas4x4

    vegas4x4 New Member

    Thanks for all the input everyone!

    I will just keep doing the preps, lightening up a bit, and keeping my frame tight to prevent her from turning on the preps.

    I would assume follows would prefer preps, like kayak said, I would think any indication of what is coming would be welcome :)

    Now I'm ready to go out dancing - hurry up weekend!

  12. Baltimorearts

    Baltimorearts New Member

    Promenade in Two Step

    Just a point of clarification in this thread - Promenade in C/W Two Step is different than Square Dance. Square Dance Promenade is essentially "cape or sweetheart" in Two Step. Sometimes couple pattern dances are called "promenade" dances in older step sheets due to this fact.

    But in general, Promenade in two step is when the lead and follow are in a "v" formation off of closed. And it is a nice way to get to wrap.

    As for preps, a trained follow will understand them, most follows without training won't "get it." But if your partner is at such a basic level that they don't know preps, you probably should be doing too many moves to begin with.

  13. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    So, Baltimorearts, or anyone else...
    Who changed the definition from the square dance one to the ??? one?
  14. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    I learned it as the V or often even more like a L where the woman takes an almost straight path down the line of dance and the man is turned going nearly sideways to her. It is supposed to give the lady easier turns with less chance of being pulled off balance and give the guy better control of the turns and faster response.

    I know next to nothing about square dance.
  15. Baltimorearts

    Baltimorearts New Member

    Promenade Position

    Hi Steve,

    I don't think you can really say that "one" person changed it at a specific point. I can tell you having taught two-step to square dancers (I am not a square dancer myself) that in the end, they really are two different approaches to couples dance. I had to work with the square dancers to have them see "leading" and "following" in a different context, and found in teaching them that terminology was not consistent.

    Of course, in two-step itself any number of positions - sweetheart, handshake, pretzel, crossbow - have variations depending on where you are and who you are with.

    I think my main point was that you should not necessarily use a square dancers definition (off of wickipedia to boot) as a main resource for two step issues.

    Hey - thanks for asking - I think it is cool to have a place here to compare notes. :D
  16. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    I've been around Wikipedia long enough to know not to trust it implicitly. I pulled that text to hopefully illustrate that the words we use to describe dance are far from standardized. I found the same lack of consistency at other sites.
    Words can either clarify, or confuse.
    I can see the appeal of things being standardized, but I can better appreciate the lack of standardization. Still it makes it hard to communicate sometimes.
    I wonder, though, how things get started. If old step sheets used the word one way, why are newer ones using the word differently?
    I think I learned from the old step sheets! I was going to look some of them up in the 3 ring binder I keep things in, but I've got too many other irons in the fire.
    It get no small amount of satisfaction out of asking questions. Sometimes I even get answers! I have found that I've learned one heck of a lot about popular American music from the 40s through the 50s, and most recently into the disco era.
    But, that's way off of this thread.
    Good to have you on board. I hope you find us interesting enough to stick around.

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