Swing Discussion Boards > WCS Wrist twisting!

Discussion in 'Swing Discussion Boards' started by Phil, Jun 16, 2010.

  1. Phil

    Phil New Member

    Twisting your partners wrist on the anchor, or the prep:

    I asked an experienced follower what it was all about, - she said she didnt know but its very uncomfortable!

    What's it all about? What is its function?

    If its uncomfortable, why do so many people, including pros, do it?
  2. kpm

    kpm New Member

    I've heard a slight twisting of the wrist to lead turns referred to as key leads. When done well, they feel good for the follower, and make a lo of things easier to lead. But that phase "when done well" is the most important part. Good key leads are very tricky to pull off. In my experience, which is rather limited, the amount of tension in the connection is important. The hard part is that this connection is somewhere between fully leveraged and neutral so the leader has to pay very close attention before initiating the lead. Too close to either of the extremes and you are, in essence, wrist locking your follower.
  3. RickRS

    RickRS Member


    May be above my paygrade (or level of knowledge of WCS, as I consider myself just a hair above beginner level)...

    I'm taught that the leader twists the wrist of the follower to lead into any move where the leader wants to turn the follower around, finishing with her hand behind her back. So that wouldn't seem to go with the anchor. Only application I know of now.
  4. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    There are a number of leads that I can think of that use a twisting action. The gentle rotation is designed to match the physiology of the ladies arm movement to make it more comfortable rather than less comfortable. The example that comes to mind is a reversed whip. If a leader doesn't turn the ladies wrist and drop the level just a bit, her arm is crammed towards her low back. The slight rotation and dip in the lead gives her a natural arm path.

    Is this the basic area of leading you are asking about?
  5. Dancelf

    Dancelf Member

    Reality check - we're talking about using a normal hand hold to pronate/supinate follower's forearm, as opposed to grabbing her wrist and trying to break it?

    I'm almost certain you want to break that habit if you can.

    If allow partner to stand in place, and manipulate the arm in isolation, you'll can see that taking the arm behind her back can be done in two movements. The first movement positions her elbow by swinging the hand down and slightly behind her back, the second movement hinges from the elbow, raising her hand comfortably to the small of her back.

    Try this in slow motion, and notice that all the rotation you need happens naturally at the shoulder and elbow. As a check, have her stick her thumb out - in a natural open hold, her thumb will point horizontally inward - at the end of the first movement, the thumb still points inward, behind her waist; at the end of the second movement, her thumb naturally points up, with her palm facing outwards behind her.

    So when I'm trying to lead any move where the leader wants to turn the follower around, finishing with her hand behind her back, the ideal I'm striving for is to first get her rotating (a purely horizontal lead does that, just as it would for a free spin), and then while she's turning I reposition her arms.... The feel for this is something akin to leading a head loop ("follow the hand... follow the hand... ignore the hand for a moment while I rearrange things. follow the hand... follow the hand....)

    Now, that's me; I'm the guy that believes that "push" and "pull" have absolutely no business playing anywhere near the description of a correct lead, so it shouldn't be that much of a surprise that I object to the idea that "apply a submission hold"....

    Kayak's idea, I endorse (not quite sure I buy the example, but that's less important to me); allowing pronation/supination of the wrist is totally acceptable. In my mind, that's not part of the lead, but more part of the follow-through: making sure that I stay in the right position relative to my follower's movement so that I can lead the next thing from where she is....
  6. Me

    Me New Member

    As a tango dancer, I feel I must preface this with, "We're all swing idiots..." BUT! We had the fortune of being taught by Buddy Schwimmer this weekend. He was quite adament in stressing, repeatedly, "Do not cause the lady pain, EVER, while dancing." He was speaking in reference to any twisting of the lady's wrist.

    So... the "man" himself said, "Don't do that." So, we aren't doing that. :)
  7. Phil

    Phil New Member

    To clarify what i'm talking about, check out jordan's lead at about 27 seconds, - i'm not allowed to post urls, - so you'll have to type youtube com in front of this

  8. Dancelf

    Dancelf Member

    I wouldn't swear to it, but I think he's repositioning the hand there as preparation for the pencil spin coming up - he wants her hand in a particular shape when he switches the lead from his left to his right, and so does that now, while things are quiet, rather than waiting until the last second when there's a lot else going on.

    I'm not totally convinced because I see similar movements in the video without seeing a corresponding justification. It may just be a habitual movement, or a loose expression of the music.
  9. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    Yea, I don't think WCS is any different from other dances. No hurting the ladies. That is why all the movements I have learned have all focused on making the lead more comfortable and natural. Plus, if I ever feel resistance, I just abort :D
  10. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    I guess I don't see anything in the video that looks like it would be uncomfortable? I think when we are starting out, most of us don't have enough understanding and control to use a more natural hand and wrist position. So we have to take a lot of care to keep the ladies hands parallel to the ground.

    All the movements look small and well timed. He adjusts his own wrists as much or more than hers. So I would expect the lead to feel natural and smooth.
  11. Dave

    Dave New Member

    As I understand it, sometimes it's a lead for a particular kind of motion - see this thread: http://forum.cerocscotland.com/showthread.php?t=6590&page=38 from post 754 onwards.

    On the other hand, sometimes it's just a bad habit. I can't remember the name of the pro for sure and don't want to malign the wrong guy, but I'm pretty certain I've heard one of the top guys saying essentially "yes, I do this a lot, and no, there's no good reason for it most of the time".
  12. Flat Shoes

    Flat Shoes New Member

    As a Lindy dancer my advice is: Don't do it unless you know why you do it.

    Even if it in some cases might give a better lead, I don't know every trick in the book, I do know it is generally not important for a good lead.

    Keep it natural and relaxed. Any need for a twist will then come natural and relaxed.

    I agree 100%. That was my conclusion too, before reading your response. He is repositioning/readjusting his arm/grip for the move that follows. And he is doing it at a time where there is no active lead going through that connection.

    I do know a couple of variations that involves twisting the followers arm as an active part of the lead. One very important thing to remember when leading these variations is: The lead is very light, relaxed and smooth, and if the follower is not following the lead, that is letting her arm be twisted and following with her body, DO NOT FORCE the lead in any way. Just let the move go, and do something else in stead.

    As Buddy Schwimmer says: never hurt the lady!
  13. tsb

    tsb Well-Known Member

    i recall seeing that as a beginner and asking experienced leads about it, and they had no idea that they were doing it!

    the slight rotation of the wrist changes the amount of tension in the arm and picks up slack (if any) there may be in the connection in the two partners. in my lead-follow vernacular. the action invites my partner to pick up any slack she may have in her arm and to maintain the level of tension when the wrist is released back to original position. over-rotating an arm in a way that results in the thumb pointing downward also prompts the arm to straighten at the elbow. but even that only hurts if the person resists!
  14. Dancelf

    Dancelf Member

    I've heard something similar from Mario, with big "this is playing with fire" and "I shouldn't be telling you people this" disclaimers on it; but I choose not to pass it along because I understand the disclaimers much better than I understand the material.

    The follower didn't appear to react the way I would expect either.

    Huh. Why not just lower the connection?
  15. Dave

    Dave New Member

    It's interesting, because as a fairly casual observer of WCS, the pros seem to do it a *lot*, and yet very few non-pros seem to really understand why. Generally the westies I know can go on (and on... :) ) about technical aspects of the dance, but not in this area.

    Again, to my casual eyes, it seems to be used more to introduce a hesitation (even if more subliminal than actual) in the dance than to adjust the grip or anything like that.

    There's an interesting example in this clip at about 1:49, where Kyle basically does it three times in a row. (Though in this case adjusting the grip was probably part of the plan given the following move).
  16. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    For me, it helps a lot to think of leads as having four components. There are linear, horizontal, vertical and rotational parts to each move. As long as we are positioned correctly with both our bodies and our hands at just the right moment to start the pattern, what our hands do in-between isn't critical.

    For example, a beginner needs to keep the ladies hands very still and horizontal for much of the dance because their muscle skills are not refined enough to isolate a horizontal lead. The pros have that horizontal lead totally worked out. So they can do some styling as they are positioning her hand. The trick is that horizontal element has to be on time and in place or we end up playing catchup and that always makes for a rough lead.

    There are a number of leads where I have been taught to use very small amounts of rotation to make the lead more comfortable as her arm travels. The whole point is to make sure not to jam her up.
  17. tsb

    tsb Well-Known Member

    huh. what are you babbling about?
  18. Dancelf

    Dancelf Member

    You can take slack out of the arm by creating more distance between the connection and the follower's shoulder. One way to do that is to lower the connection - leave over the same location on the floor, but drop it down closer to the ground. Ie - put the connection where it would naturally fall if you and partner were to both relax the arms but maintain the same distance from each other. (Analogy: the arm is a rope. If you put the ends close together, you end up with slack; as you separate the ends, the slack goes away until the rope becomes taut.)

    That might not be the effect you are after though.
  19. Me

    Me New Member

    So, yesterday I encountered wrist twisters. It was very unpleasant to have my wrist twisted every time the lead wanted me to walk forward. It was not a clear lead to walk forward - It just hurt and/or annoyed me. The "I've got carpal tunnel" line did work wonders.

    What genius came up with this idea for leading? They should be dragged out into the street and shot.
  20. Ithink

    Ithink Active Member

    If it's done correctly, it shouldn't hurt nor should it be annoying. It should actually help and feel good because it connects the man's arm/wrist better to what the hips are doing (contra body movement) and allow the lady to be really well-connected to the man's body. You just encountered really poor wrist-twisters:)

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