Swing Discussion Boards > WCS newbie question

Discussion in 'Swing Discussion Boards' started by Peaches, May 14, 2007.

  1. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    So, in playing around with wcs with two different teachers, I seem to have stumbled across what seem to be two "styles" for the sugar push.

    Style 1, which I learned first, has the ladies' back step on 4 being pretty big. It's the step I use for getting back to my starting point, where I then anchor in place.

    Style 2, which I was just shown the other day, has the step on 4 being very small (keeping my very close to the leader :) ), and then the 5&6 steps aren't really an anchor but move backwars (away from the leader) to get back to the "starting point." 5 is kind of a step behind the right foot, (5)& is sort of a cross-over step, and 6 is all the way back. I don't know how else to describe it...hopefully someone can make sense of this. Much easier to demonstrate.

    Thoughts? Preferences? Different styles? What's the deal here?
  2. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    The compression of the Sugar Push/Push Break happens when the man stays in the slot and you continue to take your two steps toward him. Your arms should be storing the energy from the compression. That energy is released on the next beat. So it would be 1 2 PUSH which could be your 3&4 which is then followed by an anchor on 5&6.

    I do a move where I drape the woman's hand over the back of my neck. But in that one the compression happens against my other hand, which is held low, and ends up against the outside of the woman's hip/upper thigh.

    If you take a small step away from the man, you've released some of the stored energy, and the push on the next step is smaller.

    I, and others, have written about the lack of true compression that is all too common when we try to do a Sugar Push.
    Is this one of those, only someone is trying to lead it?
    Were you taught this in a lesson, or was this one the dance floor stuff?
  3. Dancelf

    Dancelf Member

    In my experience, the sugar push is almost uniformly taught this way. "Setting the post" immediately prior to the anchor triple is almost universal.

    Makes sense to me. I've never seen anyone dance that way as a style - by which I mean this is their standard footwork for the pattern. As a variation to mix it up, occassionally, or to fit some idea in the music? Perhaps. It's very leadable, but I'm not sure that I'd ever choose to lead it that way - except as a demonstration that it is possible.

    Rather than a drifting anchor, I'd be more likely to combine that step with a normal sized four, to pick up and move the slot when the music calls for it. It's valid, though I think most followers would really expect two retreating triples and an anchor triple (in other words, a four beat extension in the middle of the pattern), rather than a single retreating triple with an anchor at the end of it.

    Another place that you might see a drifting anchor: a follower trying to re-establish the connection when the compression vanishes. Having some stretch in the connection at the beginning of the pattern is deceptively important; if the lead doesn't naturally achieve that, you'll want to compensate somehow. I can envision instructors showing the ladies this as an option to recover after a weak lead.

    But I'd have concerns about an instructor who showed this to his followers first.
  4. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    Isn't the trend towards #2? The man sets the leverage point on beat 4 and the lady is responsible for being in leverage at 6. The use of movement in the anchor is supposed to allow the lady more freedom of expression while still having her ready to come forward on 1 or &1? That way, even a sugar push can become some sort of cool styling as long as she is on her left foot with good leverage for beat 6.
  5. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    FTR, there was plenty of compression going on. That was actually a big part of the entire exercise--getting more compression, and determining when the release was being asked for. (He was switching between the two styles.)

    It was a difference in feeling the release from that compression on 3 and (3)& (style 1), versus 5 and (5)&. Sorry, i don't know how else to write the beat counts that I'm thinking of.
  6. chandra

    chandra New Member

    The length of my four step backwards is determined by how far back the leader leads me! When I feel the release of the compression is dependant on how he leads it. How I anchor is dependant on how he leads it and what I feel like.
    Although GENERALLY: my 5and6 doesnt travel backwards, especcially the 6. GENERALLY, as the default, my 4 is the larger step backwards. Generally my compression is through 3, 4 going backwards.
    That'll change a zillion times in a night depending on the song, the leader, etc.

    edit: So my default would be #1
  7. DancinAnne

    DancinAnne New Member

    I was thinking the same thing as I read this post... the follower's steps will depend on how it is led.

    Generally speaking though, I do the same as Chandra. But it still depends on the lead.
  8. dancergal

    dancergal New Member

    You can style your sugar push in any way you like as long as you keep the count. We were taught many styles of the sugar push and I used different styles when I dance with someone who likes to do a lot of sugar pushes. The deal is just variety. Try mixing them up next time you dance and you'll find it more fun instead of just doing one type of sugar push.
  9. DancinAnne

    DancinAnne New Member

    I am guessing she was referring to the basic sugar push. I add a lot of variation to mine too, but typically, my anchor remains relatively stable as long as it works with the lead.
  10. Ithink

    Ithink Active Member

    The anchor is called that for a reason - it's meant to return you to (generally) the same place you started the sugar push in terms of the connection. I am NOT syaing that if someone leads you to travel you anchor, you don't follow that (you must!) but your default, pending a different message from your leader, is to anchor in place I think.

    The 4 is my largest step. I've heard numerous instructors say "drive back on the 4" and I do:)
  11. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    There are many, many variations of "the push." I probably know at least ten different ones, and maybe only use four of them . . .

    I agree with Dancelf . . . I'd be very wary of any instructor who taught anything but the original basic to a beginner!!!
  12. Dancelf

    Dancelf Member

    This all still makes sense to me....

    Using two almost similar patterns/variations is a nice way to bring technique into a lession without necessarily having to emphasize it.

    I'm a big big fan of consistent terminology, so an instructor that described this as a different style of sugar push would get a small downcheck (my preferred term being variation).

    One way of trying to write this sort of thing is to express the "Vs and As". If you look at a swing partnership from the side, you'll normally see a V shape when the dancers are in extension, and an A shape when they are in compression (for instance, the follower's first step forward is almost always a V).

    So you might describe these sugar pushes as
    #1: VVVAVV
    #2: VVVAAV
    The change from As to Vs tells you approximately where the "release" happens.
  13. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    That's interesting. Can you elaborate on the different variations?

    Define beginner? I consider myself a beginner in just about everything, but I've been dancing for about 2.5 years. I've worked on wcs a bit. I wasn't completely new to wcs, but close. I'm familiar with the basic sugar push, basic right and left side passes with a couple of variations, and some basic whips (basic whip, continuous whip, basket whip, some odd variations involving different entrances and exits from the whips and some spins).

    I'm not trying to be argumentative. I just found your post interesting...
  14. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    When I was a beginner, I thought I could sidestep all those basic classes, and learn all those basics just by doing. The "push" was easy, yet as a leader, for many years, I felt something was wrong. The follows struggled with some of my leads - the "whip" being my other self-taught move.

    Anyway, I'd do cts 1, 2,3&4 correctly, but traveled forward on 5&6, instead of anchoring. What I'm trying to say, get some privates, make sure all of your basics are solid. If they are, you can try . . .
    -adding sailor shuffles
    -the lazyman's push
    -adding some swivels
    -adding some 'applejacks'
    -adding some body rolls in the middle of your push
    -change your push slightly . . . for the lead, taking a larger than normal ct 1, a small ct 2, starting to add lots of compression at cts 3 and 3&, full compression at ct 4 - not breaking frame . . . thus bringing the follow in real close - kinda leaning in toward each other - the "A?" A lot of Pros and younger WCS dancers do this . . . your part would come from the leaders steps and frame and compression, so nothing out of the ordinary for your part.

    I guess a beginner is someone who has not been WCS dancing very long . . . is still working on the basics . . . and one who says "sorry" more than once in a dance . . . one who anticipates . . . though many follows do this - I do when I follow - sometimes! I wouldn't consider you a beginner! Maybe a Novice level, or above.

    Didn't take it as an argument . . . been reading your posts for years. They're always intelligent words!
  15. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    I like the VVA description. I had never thought about it that way. The visual makes a lot of sense.

    Actually, the drill your instructor had is kind of cool as well.
  16. Dancelf

    Dancelf Member

    For leaders, the practical answer is probably something like "you are a beginner until you can get dance through an entire song without having to think about what you are doing."

    I'm not sure what the equivalent for followers would be - I'm tempted to suggest the same measure, but it seems like that is a much lower bar. Another possibility is the point where the follower understands that the object is to follow (rather than to do the move in spite of the lead).

    The line I really want to tie it to is the woman who says "I can follow if I get a good leader". But I'm not sure that happens at quite the right time in the learning curve....
  17. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    I would think that if any leader, probably Intermediate to Pro, were to dance with you, they would know if you are a beginner or not - and they would adjust! We would:
    • accommodate your imperfections so you look good, but do not minimize your technique.
    • become aware of your balance at all times because when you unbalance me it is because you are falling out of balance. If I can feel this happening then greater compression on my part is needed.
    • Reframe the dancing--make you feel good . . . The dance becomes a welcome challenge rather than a chore.
    • Create situations whereby the you have no doubt about my intentions.
    Just remember this . . . when you encounter a real good leader, and he/she doesn't immediately become aware that you are a beginner, and they try those very complex moves on you, and you don't get the move . . . don't just say, "Sorry." Just look them square in the eyes and say, "Sorry, I didn't take that class!"
  18. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    "I can follow if I get a good leader".
    This one is used way too often by women who think they can follow anything if they "get a good leader".
    I prefer the "No matter what happens we'll figure something out" kinda partner.
  19. dancergal

    dancergal New Member

    Well 2.5 years dancing doesn't really tell me a lot. Do you dance once a week, twice a week, 5 times a week? The more you dance, the more you improve. I know a lot of people who have danced WCS for years but are still not great dancers because they dance only a few times a month. WCS is a very difficult dance to learn quickly. It's a process and takes time and patience. It's like the piano. Practice, practice, practice if you want to improve.

    It's a gray area for WCS dancers if you don't compete, you don't really know your level of dance. If I compete on a Novice level and never get to the Intermediate level, does that make me a Novice dancer? There are a lot of Intermediate dancers that can't get out of Novice level. I don't compete much. I've been dancing almost 6 years in WCS. I feel comfortable dancing with Novice, Intermediate and Advanced dancers. Also an occasional pro dancer. Not all dancers have leadable moves. You sort of have to know those moves to dance with them. Some pros will dance down for you and not throw advanced moves at you but not all of them will do this. WCS is a leadable dance, but the followers still need to know their part and need to know a lot of "pattern" moves too as many leaders have learned to dance that way. That's why no matter what level, you need to take classes all the time to improve. Even the pros learn new moves all the time. That the fun of WCS. You're always learning.
  20. Dancelf

    Dancelf Member

    Vocabulary warning: there's a really big gap between "beginner" and "Novice" (note the capitalization).

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