Swing Discussion Boards > WCS newbie question

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

  1. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    Dancelf - I've been working on the suggestions you gave me way back in the Still Counting thread. Some of them are actually starting to work pretty well - they take some time to absorb. Thanks for the hints.
  2. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    Yea . . . good point . . . totally agree! I should have noted that!
  3. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    And now for a different perspective.

    "It's a gray area for WCS dancers if you don't compete, you don't really know your level of dance." My partners tell me how well I'm doing. All I have to do is watch their faces, see how well they are following what I am trying to lead, and note who seems eager to dance with me again, and who avoids eye contact with me.

    "Not all dancers have leadable moves. You sort of have to know those moves to dance with them." This is true, and I think it's unfortunate. I hope that WCS will move in the direction of lead and follow. That's where things get interesting, rather than learning ever longer, cooler patterns. Ah,, and then there is the music rather than steps and patterns.

    "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." Knowing your part means not freaking out when you are going in a direction that is unfamiliar to you. Knowing your part means keeping your balance, axis, whatever, under control so that you can be responsive to the lead. Knowing your part means knowing that if you are at the end of the slot, and just stepped onto your left foot, your right foot is available to step forward. Etc... I decided several years ago that pattern monsters are not my role model.

    I've been researching Elvis Presley's early performances. (We do two line dances to Elvis tunes where I dance.) By today's standards his moves are primitive, even jerky or spastic at times. But, he's having a hell of a good time. And people react to that.
    Maybe my West Coast is like that.
    It's a good place to be.
    But perhaps not for everybody.
  4. Dancelf

    Dancelf Member

    Even beyond Steve's point, I think this doesn't have to be true.

    If your lead expects the follower to assume the dance, then the followers will certainly need to know their part. If your lead is communicates every shift of weight, then the follower doesn't need to know quite so much.

    (The usual illustration that I offer here is that a triple step is leadable - therefore the follower doesn't need to know her basic footwork on 3&4, because you can lead it).

    Full agreement on this one - I had ducked on addressing it because my first two drafts were insufficiently polite. Steve found a much better way to say it.
  5. Soren

    Soren New Member

    Hi folks - figured this was a good spot to post my own WCS newbie question!

    I started dancing WCS again after a 15 year hiatus, and have been shopping around trying to find the instructor / teaching style in my area that suits me the best. I have gone to group classes, had private lessons, and checked out several of the DVDs available.

    My issue is that I am getting conflicting footwork (for a leader) from two different instructors for both left side passes and underarm turns. I have expressed my concerns to both, explaining that I would rather begin with the technically correct step then move on with variations, and both claim theirs to be correct. DF, I need your help!

    Instructor 1 - Back on 1, Replace on 2 (or Cross in front for underarm), Triple 3&4, Anchor 5&6.

    Instructor 2 - Back on 1, Back on 2, Triple 3&4, Anchor 5&6.

    I usually wouldn't put so much effort into such a small thing but the Back Back of method #2 makes my 3&4 feel rushed because I am forced to do all the following in two counts:

    A) get out of the slot
    B) half turn
    C) get back in the slot
    D) set the post

    So I turn to you folks for some guidance. Which variation do you consider a basic, and if you use method #2 do you have any ideas of why my 3&4 feel rushed?

    I can only hope that when I try a new spot next week I don't get introduced to a third variation as a basic pass!
  6. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    I learned about .... Darn when did I learn? mid, late 90s? ... and I was always taught back, back. But the second back is when you step sort of behind yourself, and begin "turning sideways" and "out of the slot".
    At that point you have 3&4, 5&6 to turn about 90 degrees to face your partner, and move "back into the slot".
    In that amount of time, I can get a reasonably good partner to do a 180 and a 360 degree turn. And all you have to do is turn 90 degrees.

    I'm going to guess that it's just a mental thing, as your brain tries to resolve the two different "technically correct" ways to do it.

    One of the reasons I like WCS is that I don't hear too much talk about "technically correct". Some folks make a big deal out of this. West Coast freedom vs East Coast correctness. Look! It's true to the spirit of African dance, and unlike European dance "learning how to do it correctly".

    I'm skeptical about taking it that far, but I do enjoy the freedom.

    (How is it the Argentines, most of whom came from Europe, created a dance with so much freedom - Argentine Tango?)

    So, the answer is that there is no answer to which is technically correct.
    (Although I think the step in front one is less basic than the back back one.)
  7. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    I believe that "technically correct" is heard and used, and judged - if you compete!

    If you are not competing, and you've been WCS dancing for this long . . . what does it matter? Do them both, add variations (spice) to your dancing.

    And it would be easy to introduce to other ones, as yu could do it the lazyman's way with just a two count, which tends to double-time the followeas they go down the slot!
  8. vegas4x4

    vegas4x4 New Member

    Hi Soren,

    Regarding your question of footwork, my feeling is that Back on 1, Replace on 2 is definitely more common and more "standard". My instructor (Donnie Carl) in Las Vegas encourages the other style, Back on 1, Back on 2, but I've taken lessons from popular California instructors like Jordan Frisbee, Phil Adams, and Carrie Lucas, and they all teach Back on 1, Replace on 2. Chris Jones, an instructor from Portland told me (in a private) that Judges would knock me down for doing back on 1, back on 2, but in talking with Judges I don't believe that is the case.

    One case where I do like the back on 1, back on 2 instead of the back on 1, replace on 2, is for a standard whip. It gets your body opened up more and sooner than the replace method. The girl has to travel down the slot a little more, but I think it makes for a better looking whip and it works really well with a delay whip (where they hang on the outside of the slot for 3& and don't move across the slot until 4).

    Personally I think you're fine with either variation. In a few months it won't matter since you'll probably be doing a bit of both.

  9. vegas4x4

    vegas4x4 New Member


    I was just re-reading your question and I don't see why your 3&4 should feel rushed. I'm not sure why you're needing to do A-D all in two counts.

    Pretty much count one should just be back (still in the slot) and get the girl started. You shouldn't be leaving the slot here.

    Count two (in either variation) should open your body to be somewhat parallel to the slot (moreso in variation 2). You don't need your whole body out of the way. You can absolutely "share the slot". I usually see teachers teach to make sure your right shoulder is out of the way.

    Count 3&4 should allow you to get back into the slot and set the post. For an underarm turn and pass you should be back in the slot and travelling slightly towards the follow on 4.

    Count 5&6 is your anchor.

    I'm not sure why you'd be feeling rushed. You might want to try using a rolling count, counting "and a 1 and a 2 and a 3 and a 4 ...". You almost alwyas have more time than you realize and sometimes the rolling count helps your body feel that additional time.

  10. Dancelf

    Dancelf Member

    That bit is weird.

    Just about every instructor I have seen (which means that the ballroom or C&W world may do things differently) teaches that by count two, there is enough information available for the follower to know which side of the leader she will be passing.

    In other words, "back on 2", without an accompanying "get out of the slot", is always going to be a push break, tuck, or some other pattern where the leader will never evacuate the slot.

    Beyond that, some bad news... if you can't resolve the contradicting instruction you are getting on footwork, you are probably going to need to pick one of these instructors until you are ready for "variations". Simple truth is that any good instructor is going to teach Y and Z that work well with footwork X, which are going to be different from the Y' and Z' that work well with X' that somebody else teaches.

    That said, my advice would be "get over it". The footwork is not the dance - syncopations are only possible because the specifics of your footwork don't really matter.
  11. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    Isn't the only difference between the two options how long you are making the slot?

    I think all the instructors I have had all teach a diagonal step on beat 1 to already be starting out of the slot with 2 being totally out of the slot. That gives the lady a clear path on 3&4 for whatever you are leading.
  12. chandra

    chandra New Member

    Eh, so far as I can tell, the swing world is divided in half on the issue. As long as you really replace, and dont step forward on the one option, I dont see that it makes that much of a difference... Do what feels right to you...
    (They are both "correct" depending on who you ask)

    Btw the same footwork quandry applies to a whip.
  13. SlowDancer

    SlowDancer New Member

    Vince, you're a hoot.;)
  14. Dancelf

    Dancelf Member

    Ummmm, no.

    Expanding a little bit - yes, for a beginner class, that's the only practical difference.

    But unless you are really amazingly good, changing the position of your feet on the floor is going to change your point of support, and therefore the relative positions of support/center/connection, which is going to have an impact on your lead, and that in turn will have additional implications which ripple throughout the dance.

    I'm tempted to go into this in more detail, but I'm not sure that I can without betraying my own bias, and have no interest in engaging in a flamewar over what is the One True Way[tm].
  15. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    Cool, I would be interested in further explanation of the difference? I might not be understanding the original question right?
  16. Soren

    Soren New Member

    Thanks for all the great replies folks.

    This quote from Dancelf explains what I was worried about - not the actual footwork of the step, but the cascading effect it has on everything else - my lead, my arm tone, etc. After some practice this week I realize now that I was simply taking steps that were too large for swing, and shortening everything up a bit seemed to have solved most of my immediate issues, no matter which footwork variation I tried.
  17. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Oh, come on, Dancelf, DF is known for having discussions, rather than flame wars (isn't it?). And I think we have already established that there is no one true way.

    I rarely step in front of myself on the 2nd slow, but I may play around with it this evening to see what happens. Based on my experience in tango, this position is similar to what is referred to as a cross, but is usually done by the woman (and almost always left over right).
    I'm thinking that, if you accept that you can "set" yourself, be grounded, be a post, etc. on either foot....
    Lots of possibilites I can think of.
    I just hope I don't fall over.
  18. mikex1337

    mikex1337 New Member

    The most subtle differences are made by the switch in the position. I think you have a firm hold on this but need to ask around.

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