Country and Western > WCS technique

Discussion in 'Country and Western' started by VinceraVivere, Dec 3, 2006.

  1. VinceraVivere

    VinceraVivere New Member

    My teacher and I are thinking about doing a WCS routine to get more familiar with the dance, and I love the dance a lot. The problem is, I never dance it, and when we do dance it together, we jsut run through the steps and never really focus on footwork and all. So I was hoping some of you could help me on that.

    In a basic or sugarpush, are the forward steps usually toes or heels? Are there any steps where you take heel leads?

    Also, how do you achieve the 'smooth' look that seems to be the trademark of all country/western dancers - I seem to bounce all over the place. But C&W dancers always seem so smooth out on the floor compared to other dancers, in swing and WCS and all that. How is that done?

    That's all I have for right now; I'm sure I'll come up with more later. Thanks!

  2. SlowDancer

    SlowDancer New Member

    Excellent question. The way I do it is by remembering the sound of an excellent WCS teacher's voice saying to me over and over again: "there is NO BOUNCING in west coast swing." It makes me think of that line from Bull Durham, "there is NO CRYING in baseball." Think of your feet gliding across the floor, always (or almost always) in contact with the floor. Watch yourself in the mirror, if possible. When it looks right to you, try to memorize that feeling for when there is no mirror to guide you.
  3. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    I know my instructors really focus on precise footwork and placement for both the guy and girl. It would be really hard to not get carried out out of the slot without knowing the footwork. For smoothness, they always work with me on keeping the shoulders flat but get a nice amount of bend in the knees to clearly show the footwork and a rolling back on the heel on the slows. You will love the descriptions. Lots of railroad tracks, hotdogs/buns, squashed oranges.

    Just curious, how is your teacher getting you to do a routine without fully describing the basics of the dance?
  4. VinceraVivere

    VinceraVivere New Member

    We haven't actually started the dance yet (We'll probably start this weekend), but to be honest, he doesn't focus a lot on technique, just on learning the steps. Which can get irritating, but we'll eventually focus on the technique after we get the steps down. I'd just prefer to be doing it right from the beginning.
  5. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    I'd be willing to bet good money that there will be several people who will contradict me, but I think Country Western West Coasters have that smooth look because they learn in CW clubs rather than from "pros" at a studio. The people who teach in clubs or community college evening classes don't have the luxury of trying to teach a bunch of technique partly because they don't have time, thank goodness.
    Studios, "pros", etc only make money if you think there is something only they can teach you. (and don't get me started on competition)
    Just this Saturday I had a Two Step partner who bounced quite a bit making it really hard for her to feel my lead, and hard for me to feel where she was. Since she is fairly new and still open to suggestions, I mentioned this and she said right away, "Oh, you mean being grounded". (She should have just walked away from me after some pithy remark. Isn't that the way it's supposed to work?)
    I assume you know how to walk pretty well. Maybe you bounce when you walk, too. If you do, stop that. Dance like you walk.
    On the other hand, most Americans seem to have way more disposable income than they know what to do with (in spite of all the whining).
    Flame on, people!
  6. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    It's always interesting to me that when something becomes "dancing" a lot of things happen. Like forgetting how to walk normally. And I'm not trying to sound high and mighty--I know the same thing has happened (and still does at times) to me.

    But I've found that it can be one of the hardest things to get people to "just walk normally" within the context of dancing. "Take 2 normal steps forward" can seem to turn into just about anything--bouncing, hopping, gliding, sliding, a kind of walk "stuttering", you name it.

    I wonder what it is that creates this phenomenon.
  7. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    Yea, Steve beat me to it . . . do you bounce when you walk? Try walking through your WCS swing basic pattered footwork . . . you shouldn't bounce.

    I also remember quite a few years ago when I first started competing . . . and was struglling with a bounce in Two Step . . . my Pro told me to "think" abut a glass of champagne balanced on the top of my head - and trying not to spill a drop! Worked for me!!!!!!! I learned to 'be grounded.'
  8. waltzgirl

    waltzgirl Active Member

    Well, for one thing, I don't normally walk down the street backwards!

    In beginner guys, I think it's often due to anxiety about stepping on their partner. Most people don't walk straight at obstacles in their path (or slightly offset to the right).

    Anytime you begin to think about a habitual action as you do it, it can get wierd.

    Occasionally, I think it's an attempt to respond to the music before they really know how to.
  9. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    I was taught "the woman owns the slot". Yes, it can be hard to get over "walking into" someone.
    Just think, though, how hard is it to be the guy when, at the end of each "basic" the woman turns around, looks at you, and seems to be thinking "OK, now what are we doing". And you only know a few things to lead. Believe it or not, it is quite intimidating! (at least it was for me)
    We've discussed now the Sugar Push or Push Break works so much better if the woman DOES actually walk into the guy.
    Fortunately in WCS the woman gets to walk forward most of the time (at least that's the case where I dance).
  10. Taurus57

    Taurus57 New Member

    Steve, Steve, Steve,
    I think you've had a bad experience with a "pro" or studio somewhere in your past. In my opinion, group classes and community college classes are only about steps and not technique. If you want technique, you have to pay for it separately. I don't disagree with your statement about "something only they can teach you". I've experienced that mentality myself. They are no longer my teacher! Your relationship with your teacher should be one of mutual respect for your abilities (as well as theirs) as a student. After all, you are trying to learn.

    You obviously don't have much of an opinion on competition/competitors. Competition is based on good technique, not moves. So what if you can throw your partner through a fancy difficult move if it looks like crap. Maybe you've had a bad experience at a competition where you thought you should have won and didn't. Did you blame that on you partner too? Because, I'm sure it wasn't you, right?

  11. waltzgirl

    waltzgirl Active Member

    Having done mostly ballroom, I'm now a lot more comfortable dancing backward than forward. :)
  12. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    Where in WCS do you go backwards . . . ???
  13. waltzgirl

    waltzgirl Active Member

    I've got to start quoting the post I'm responding to! I was responding to Peaches' comment about beginners, which seemed to be about dance more generally. Didn't mean to hijack, sorry.
  14. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    I actually "thought" that was what you were referring to . . . I just wanted to have a fun poke at you!!! ;)
  15. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    My teacher told me to practice wcs by doing sugar pushes against a wall or counter. It gets you kinda used to walking straight into something pretty well. They do work so much better when you actually walk into the guy, more or less.

    The only problem is if they guy isn't giving you any connection to walk into/work off of. I find WCS incredibly difficult (well, I always find it very hard, but I find it even harder) when the guy doesn't give me anything to work off of. If I can't "sit back" into the connection before that first step forward, it gets difficult. If I don't have a "wall" from the guy to run into in the sugar push, it gets even more difficult.

    Such a hard dance. I've got so much respect for people who do it well.
  16. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    If you have room . . . try a refrigerator handle . . . it'll give you some connection, er, uh, you have to connect to it though!

    Try not to break frame too much!
  17. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    I'm sure it's all of these things. And I don't mean to knock the guys (or the girls). It's just one of those things that fascinates me--how you can take a simple, natural action and completely fubar it once you start thinking about it.

    I noticed this again in QS with my footwork. When i don't think about it, it goes fine. When I try to make sure I get it right, it goes to you know where.

    The last group class session I had was WCS. And as much as "walking normally" was stressed, it was fascinating to see what happens with that.
  18. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    Um...I don't get this. I just envision the door opening...then closing...then opening...then cat investigating fridge...then closing...then cat squealing...then cat running door I trip on the back cat hisses...then DH comes downstairs to investigate racket...then shakes his head as he goes back upstairs...
  19. waltzgirl

    waltzgirl Active Member

    I know. I'm always fascinated to see the variations that get produced as soon as moving becomes "dancing."

    But it bugs me when I see a beginner moving like that in a private lesson and the teacher just letting them do it over and over. Surely, taking a few minutes to work on moving normally would do more good in the long run than just getting them to hippetty-hop through the pattern.
  20. waltzgirl

    waltzgirl Active Member

    I'm really a newb at wcs, but there's a pattern where I go down the slot, switch to the other side of the guy, and go backwards up the slot. I like that one!

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