Swing Discussion Boards > w.c. swing, patterns versus musicality

Discussion in 'Swing Discussion Boards' started by Hank, Feb 26, 2004.

  1. RickRS

    RickRS Member

    Ok, not to worry, "lead with your center" has been drilled into me by my wcs dance instructor. The concept, not the necessarily the term. And thanks to kayak, a eureka! moment for me; "center" as in "center of gravity", "lead" as in firm frame, no noodle arms, smooth pressure toward and away from the follow, without jerking, yanking, pushing, or pulling. Term and concept are now embedded in the noggin. And to be fair, I'm sure the instructer used the term while demostrating the concept (likely multiple times), it just didn't sink in.

    Actual impedmentation of the lead is problematic for us beginners; it's not rigid, it's not even constant.

    Witness the simple left side pass with a (leader's) left arm connection (as taught by my instructer); lead with your center as leader steps back and out of the slot, connecting arm relaxs and falls as follow passes, frame and tension restored in connecting arm as follow continues to end of slot. Any "leading" by the beginner leader in the middle of the pass is incorrect, "lead" at the start, "lead" at the finish. Simple, but everyone of us leads (well, some of us, and by some I mean me) will start by holding the arm up at elbow height the entire pattern because we are "leading".

    Getting back to Me's problem with WCS; so to get her to wait, back to me, shake her tush, five pivots, etc..., how do I do that one, there a secret handshake or something? ;)
  2. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    Of course there is a secret handshake. You just have to buy beer for the forum, and you are in ;)

    The trick is to decide if you are going to provide playtime or lead each motion. Providing playtime is an easier lead. I find I just have to adjust to different partners. Some like to groove a bit on their own and others want me to lead.

    First, make sure she feels no rotational energy as she goes past you. If she does feel your hand dropping, she will probably pivot and anchor. So I find that sliding down the slot behind her keeps me for needing to reach. That reach can cause an inadvertent pivot turn. If I walk down either my rail or the slot behind her, I can keep my hand perfectly centered on her. That way, she has to break her frame to turn and the natural thing is to follow her arm and stay moving farther down the slot. What free style moves she does while you are giving her extra beats is up to her. After whatever playing we do, just let your hand path finish the left or right side pass and she will pivot and anchor.

    The other option while she is going down the slot is to actually lead all the swivels and pivots. I think that is a much harder lead than just providing playtime. I often find that leading the pivots and directions changes from sweetheart position is the easiest. So I often like to start the pass from cross-handed double left over position. As she passes, we basically automatically move to sweetheart position. As I walk down the rail with her, I have a solid position to lead her direction/momentum changes. Finish the open locked whip and you are right back to cross handed position or you can turn yourself on the anchor and be back to normal.

    I find leading the open locked whips is a tough balance of creating a solid enough block to change her direction, leading without rotation and still being smooth and gentle to be quite a challenge. It sure is fun though. I probably messed the lead up a million times before getting the touch. I'm proof that laughing fixes all bad leads :)
  3. d nice

    d nice New Member

    Okay so you have the words... but do you understand what they mean?

    How do say this... what you are reading here is probably not what was meant. There is also a difference between the Ragtime Slow Drag (which is more in keeping with the varsity Drag) than the Deep South's Blues styled Slow Drag.
  4. d nice

    d nice New Member

    The "problem" with using words that mean something in physics is that most people aren't overly familiar with it as a concept let alone a science. They have their own interpretation of the word above and beyond that which physics requires of it. These connotations are been tripping up people for decades.

    I've found in order to be most clear, especially in an online forum, using words that have the same essential meaning in practical application, but do not have the more unwanted connotations is more productive. Even if the word does not have a specific meaning in physics. I try to use words which in a biomechanical setting will achieve the proper result. When I am in person I can say "pull," "push," "tug," etc. because I can show what I mean and I can give all the appropriate cautions about not using the biceps, or the arm in general to generate the energy.

    The word lead, guide, draw are often more preferable as far as getting the desired result...

    But in this case since you are talking to a follow about what she should be feeling when it is done correctly, and you included quotation marls around the word pull. I think you are just fine.
  5. d nice

    d nice New Member

    Not really true. The whole point of leading form your center is not that your follower knows anything instantly but she doesn't have to know anything at all. Her body will start traveling when the leveraged tension or compression is great enough to overcome her inertia. It does not require any interpretation at all... it is just physics and relying on body-mechanics to relay it.

    No body leads actually tend to create a more noticeable lag than an arm lead. The follower is literally following the leader, as in moving after, rather than executing the same move at the exact same time. This allows our arms to be relaxed, our frames engaged and the momentum to cause the tension/compression between our bodies to build and ebb as we move in and out of phase with each other. IF you have ever had a dance where the connection feels soft almost "gushy" where everything is eased into, accelerating and decelerating to make each movement comfortable with no surprises, even when something rapid happens, that is dancing from your center.

    Exactly. Leading from your center is almost always going to work best by moving your body and not giving overmuch thought to what it takes to make your follower execute a step. If I want my follower to do a sugar-push/push-break I simply do it myself. My follower is starting at a dead stop. My stepping backwards for the '1' brings my follower's torso forward (think Newton's 1st Law of Motion) which in turn will bring the rest of her body forward. When I start my triple step my follower is still moving forward, into my frame, because she is out of phase with me, and when I step forward at the end of that triple I've increased the compression between us above and beyond the forward momentum she had, sending her back down the slot form which she came. She continues following that momentum until she can travel no further without disengaging her frame and this creates tension between our bodies (through the arms, we don't want to try and flex our biceps to create the tension artificially) while she is still stepping and the anchor step results.

    Now it is VERY common in WCS all the way through the upper intermediate levels, as Steve was saying, that leaders and followers will do their part of a move rather than actually leading and following the movement required to create the move. Forward and backwards steps are done by both partners because of the recognition of what is required to do a move, not because of an real interaction between their bodies. This is especially obvious in a lot of anchor steps, followers will triple in place because they are 'supposed' to anchor not because they are being anchored.
  6. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    Cool, I like your phase description. It makes up for my lack of ability in the description of instant. A word like naturally would probably work better than instant. Good thing I'm not a dance instructor :)

    I have been playing with accelerating and slowing down things like whips as good ways to improve our musicality. I am sure you have been doing that for so long it is second nature. For me, changing speeds has been a great way to step beyond just repeating all the fun moves I have learned.

    It is amazing how many places there are in the connection between partners for something as seemingly simple as accelerating a turn to break down.
  7. dancingmomof2

    dancingmomof2 New Member

    I have taken a good musicality class from Jordan and Tatiana before at a competition event. I think it takes a lot of practice and familiarity with the music. If you watch those pros in the jack and jills they really know every song. I think its like Dancergal says.. "become familiar with the songs, the breaks and where you can "play.""
  8. d nice

    d nice New Member

    The love of old thread resurrection.
  9. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    Yes, those pros are totally familiar with those songs, and that helps a lot. However, if you listen to enough music in general, and you learn a few things about music theory, you also will be able to predict most of the breaks and accents in a song that you never heard before. Most blues/pop/rock/R&B songs have certain structures of repeating patterns and cycles. Once you know that, and can hear it in the song, you can feel comfortable dancing even to unfamiliar music.
  10. chandra

    chandra New Member

    IMO whether or not there is actually any bicept or tricep engagement or not is semantics. Everything certainly works out better if we all just essentially forget about our arms when following and leading basics.

    I may have said this example in this thread before, I dont remember, and Im not going to re-read the whole thing. Its my favorite example:
    Leading from the center may not make things "instant" but they sure as heck do make them more accurate - so seemingly more instantaneous.
    There is an old theatre arts exercise, and honestly, I dont remember what its for in theatre. It makes a heck of alot of sense in lead and follow: Two people stand facing each other. One is a leader, one is a follower. first, with there hands apart, the leader leads motions, and the follower mimics them. One can get quite adept at this, and seemingly very connected to the other persons intentions. However, at the end of the excercise, the leader and the follower are asked to touch hands and repeat the exercise.
    IMO, the difference in communication between the two above scenarious illustrates beautifully the difference in connections between two beginning dancers and two advanced dancers. A beginning dancer feels and then reacts. An advanced dancer reacts.
    IMO, thats why followers are told to have rigid, barbie doll arms at first. It helps them feel that, when they are pushed they should move. It is nearly impossibly for a beginner to create the same feeling with relaxed arms. As the progress, they relax. If they start relaxed they will probably be stuck in the feel and then react phase. IMO of course.
  11. d nice

    d nice New Member

    In my experience it is the exact opposite. Tense arms dampen all nuance from a lead which results in a follower having to be dragged or driven to move, versus a follower with relaxed arms will eventually start moving once all the slack has disappeared from their connection.

    An advanced follower can modulate her frame enough to compensate for stiff arms (it is the reason why they look so good dancing with bad leaders)while a bad follower can't.

    The analogy that I use and demonstrate in class is holding a followers hand as if we were a couple, we are walking in a mall and stop. I'm checking out the display window of a electronics store dreaming of a 52" Plasma screen TV. I glance at the lady and realize she is looking at the display window of a jewelry store. I think to myself "this cant be good," and then I realize the display is of engagement rings! Time to go. So without saying anything (because I don't want to have "that" conversation hear and now) I simply walk away without letting go. Our arms relaxed I'm moving she isn't until the slack is gone and then that momentum is transferred to her center and she starts moving, no feeling, no thinking, just physics. The perfect example of lead/follow.

    But we are definitely saying the same thing, leading from your center (as in creating movement with your body) and following from your center (because of momentum transferred to your body and allowing it create your movement) is far more efficient, exact, nuanced, relaxed, and comfortable, than following by rote, signal, or arm leads.
  12. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    This is hilarious!:uplaugh:
    But what about the follower who doesn't want to leave the jewelry display and you have to drag her away from it? ;)
  13. d nice

    d nice New Member

    I'd go so far to say 9 times out of 10 she ill at least start in the direction she is being led, before she digs her heels in. ;)

    It is a funny analogy, it gets people laughing which makes them more comfortable and really sinks in bypassing all the technical talk because at one point or another we have all done hat and had it done to us, so we get the sensation we are striving for on a visceral level. Now it is simply recreating it.
  14. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    Then, he does his own thing and she does her own thing and you have Salsa :)

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