Swing Discussion Boards > beginner question about sugar push

Discussion in 'Swing Discussion Boards' started by dancinrina, Jul 11, 2008.

  1. dancinrina

    dancinrina New Member

    So, I've seen it done 2 different ways and I wanted a survey of who does it how - On the actual push (4-count) I've seen ladies drag their toe. I've also seen ladies drag their heel. Which is the "more correct" way of doing it?
  2. Dancelf

    Dancelf Member

    "Toe", he announced with an authority in his voice that sounded suspiciously like a bluff....

    I'm basing this on two principles:
    1) "Toes love the floor", a carryover from the other swing dances
    2) 4 is a compression lead - followers center should be between her partner and her support.

    I suspect that the real answer, as usual, is "whatever works - this is a street dance."
  3. d nice

    d nice New Member

    Which Swing Dance? Lindy Hop steps ball of the foot as its default as such the "toe" would be the "more" correct way. WCS steps heel to toe as its default so heel would be "more" correct... but realistically you go back when your leader makes you go backwards through the connection as such whichever part of your foot is on or off the floor is the right one.
  4. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Even though WCS started out as Western Swing when Laurie Haile wrote it down and began teaching it for Arthur Murray studios in Santa Monica, it is a "street dance" in the sense that it is pretty much free of a "governing body" that tells everyone that one thing is right and another is wrong.
    There's lots of room for personal choices in this dance.
    Which do you think looks better when you watch other people dance?
    Maybe you could learn to do it either way and switch back and forth.
    Alhough as a beginner this might be too much, try to notice your partner's reaction to the different "drags".
    I'm guessing that "dragging" your heel would make you feel more grounded. Where having your heel "up" when dragging your toe would make you feel more "up".
    All things considered, I guess I'd agree with Dancelf, and say go with the toe, but heel isn't "wrong".
  5. dancinrina

    dancinrina New Member

    I personally don't think either one looks better or worse - they're just different and look like different stylings one seems more "ballroom" the other seems more jazz or hip-hop.
  6. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Which is which? ie which one looks ballroom to you, which one looks jazz/hip hop?
  7. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    I thought one of the definitions of the smooth dances - waltz and Foxtrot - was that they are the only dances that allow heal leads, drags and turns? So a swing dance, being in the rhythm category, would always be a toe to heal rolling action?

    Mind you, I am not very particular. It is just something I remember coming up in class from time to time.
  8. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    West Coast Swing doesn't really make use of the type of foot action you describe, to my knowledge. When you walk in WCS you can just use a natural walk, which normally would be heel first. WCS is not considered as the same category of dance as the ballroom Latin ones.

    I think the question, though, had to do with how you use your trailing foot? I.e., on the 4, the lady steps back with her right, then closes with her left on 5. So she can optionally style with the left foot by dragging it (during 4-and), rather than simply closing. I've done that toe-first. Don't remember seeing it done heel-first but there's no reason you couldn't. I hope that is the right answer and the right question.
  9. dancinrina

    dancinrina New Member

    That is exactly what I meant. As for Steve Pastor's question. I think the dragging toe looks more ballroom while the heel looks jazzier. I could be wrong - it's been years since I've danced both.
  10. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    Kind of a cool difference between regions. Most of the instructors in my area talk a lot about squishing oranges by rolling from the toe to the heal. So the step style is kind of unique to WCS, but still distinctly a swing styled step.
  11. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    I think we're both right - yes, I have heard about rolling the foot to produce the right look, but we are probably talking about different steps. I was thinking of the lady's walk forward. For that, we are not told to walk specifically toe first. But yes, I would roll the foot when doing some of the other steps.
  12. slotmonkey

    slotmonkey New Member

    Traditionally, the sugar push footwork is just step-step-triplestep-anchorstep. The most common, classical variation is step-step-tapstep-anchorstep. While there are many ways to do any movement in WCS, but I feel like it's a good idea to learn a specific, plain, archetypal version of every "basic" pattern, that you can use when you're experimenting with connection.

    As I learned it, the most basic model of the sugar push is where the feet are simply stepping along with the movement of the follower's center of gravity. One counts "one-two," the follower is moving forward and can step normally, as if she were just walking forward. On "three-and-four," the follower's direction is being reversed. As a general rule for WCS, whenever the direction that someone's center is moving changes without an anchor step to stop the follower and build up leverage, the follower will coaster step (stepping front-front-back for a sugar push, or back-back-forward on "three-and-four" of a whip, etc.). It is possible for your center to perform a coaster without your feet doing the basic footwork, but again, we're talking about a basic model for the sugar push. The last two beats of the the sugar push are the anchor step.

    If you want to learn to tap, drag your feet, etc. then you're learning variations from the basic sugar push, and those don't really have formalized rules so long as you aren't altering your connection to your partner.

    I feel like mixing heel-led and toe-led steps can make a very hip hop look.

    As for how a follower should normally walk in WCS, I've heard a lot of different opinions and ideas. There are people who both heel-lead and who toe-lead, who roll through and who don't. I've heard ballroom-style dancers say that stepping similar to the way a follower would step in Rhumba is a good guideline, but I think that street WCS began to roll through the feet heavily in the past decade or so with influence from the Carolina Shag. I honestly think that it's just a good idea to figure out what's the most comfortable way to always maintain frame and posture, and to be able to pivot on your foot when a turn begins, usually slightly behind the beat, meaning that you probably won't want to be flat-footed at that moment (i.e. you'll want your weight on either the front or back of your foot to minimized your foot's contact area with the floor).
  13. Albanaich

    Albanaich New Member

    Way too much thought. . . . . .time to stop thinking about what your body is doing and much more listening to what your body tells you to do.

    Everything changes with your partner. Are they tall? overwieght? light on their feet or heavy? well balanced? good timing? poor coordination?

    What you do is entirely dependent on your partners abilities - if you are not aware of your partners abilities and how to conform to them - then you are not dancing.
  14. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    Welcome Slotmonkey,

    Yea, I think your description is pretty well in line with the way I learned sugar pushes. Have you been dancing WCS very long?
  15. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    I guess I would say 90% of what makes a good sugar push is doing my own basics correctly much the way Jenny and slotdancer describe. Yea, that last 10% is adjusting for my partner. As the lead, I think I should be able to create as much leverage or compression as I want with fairly subtle movement of my center.
  16. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Everyone might be interested to know that credits Lauré Haile, who first described "Western Swing" does not mention "how to step" ie heel or toe first, in the Silver level section on the dance. She does have, however have 14 pages on "Timing and Music Interpretation".
    Note that "Western Swing" was the immediate precussor of West Coast Swing.

    I don't remember Skippy Blair writing about "how you step" in her 1978 book that included West Coast Swing.

    Some authors distinguish between "walking" and the "dancer's walk", the later being toe first rather than heel.

    Regarding the Sugar Push (kayak and other regulars here will recognize this tune)...
    I was taught that "the woman owns the slot".
    Blair wrote, "The seemingly very simple Push Break requires "leverage" or "resistance", to make the pattern. While the arms remain firm but flexible, there should be no excessive pushing or pulling in the arms but in the body."

    What I feel now, almost always, is more like a "six count basic" where the woman stops and reverses direction without any real "compression", "leverage" or "resistance" being developed.

    And as always, again in Skippy's words, "The only problem that exists in SWING is when someone decides there is only ONE WAY to dance it. There is never only ONE WAY to do anything ..."
  17. Albanaich

    Albanaich New Member

    Yeah. . . and how do you take notes and explain to someone who has never done WCS but is an accomplished Lindy dancer how do do WCS .

    Well you don't. . . .you just get down together and dance, screw the rules.

    Dance is communication - and if you need a rule book on how to communicate through dance - you're a useless dancer.
  18. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Sorry Albanaich, but that's a useless opinion. Do you honestly think that there is any type of communication (perhaps beyond the most basic) that doesn't involved complex rules? If so then someone who speaks Swahili and someone who speaks Spanish should be able to communicate on the spot just by talking to each other, right? (Unless you're going to dismiss them too, in this case as useless "speakers" or "talkers.")

    You're right that dance is a form of communication... and as such demands a shared set of understandings. While its certainly true that these understanding can be communicated by a variety of mediations, they are still "rules" whether codified in a book or not. Ultimately I think that you are conflating expression and communication: whereas I can express myself however I feel, I can only communicate with someone according to shared understandings.
  19. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    let me also note that a visit to guidelines 1,2 and especially...4...ought to be reviewed posthaste as recent comments fly in the face of the atmosphere that we cultivate around here...and continued disregard of such will not be appreciated
  20. RickRS

    RickRS Member

    As a just-above-beginner lead, I'm have a problem with some followers having zero compression in the sugar push. I'm stepping forward on 4, but some followers start backing away before I go forward. I don't think I doing anything wrong, just those dancers aren't "listening" to the connection. With other followers, and with my instructor, I get the proper feel of compression as I cause the change of direction.

    Also, welcome to the forum, Slotmonkey, I didn't notice at first that this was your first post.

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