Swing Discussion Boards > Why does my WCS have a tendency to travel?

Discussion in 'Swing Discussion Boards' started by wonderwoman, Sep 20, 2009.

  1. GJB

    GJB Well-Known Member

    Sorry wonderwoman, once I got into the explanation, I had forgotten that you only had only lesson in WCS. Maybe try and revisit my post after you have had a few more lessons. There is some good info there but it may be a while before you are ready for it.
  2. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    Perfect translation :D

    The best part is after you and your partners get really good at not drifting around in the slot, the next step in becoming a better dancer is moving the slot. :cool: Who care when your class gets there, it is all fun ....
  3. GJB

    GJB Well-Known Member

    I just searched the internet for "ballet third position" and found a picture. I intended to provide a link but after seeing the picture, I discovered that the WCS version of third position is different than the ballet version. In WCS, the front foot is pointing forward to 12 o'clock. The picture I saw of the ballet version the front foot is point to the right.
  4. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    All your explanations are great, GJB. And that's how I was taught WCS third position, ie. the front front points straight ahead while the back foot is the one that points outward. You'd want it that way so you end up walking straight forward with no turnout.

    As for the original question about unplanned traveling, I was taught that is normally controlled by the leader, but if he's not traveling, and yet you are, then you could adjust your step length as explained in the previous posts. More advanced leaders are also taught, though, that there are ways to adjust their lead if the follower travels unexpectedly or too much.
  5. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    It's late for me, haven't read the entire thread, but here goes....

    When Laure' Haile first documented the "Western Swing" the "away" rock step for the man on the slow slow remained an important element in the dance.
    While the man did his rock step, the woman, instead of also doing a rock step, began doing a walk walk.
    Prior to this you can see in most films that the woman moves into the "slot" on her first set of triple steps, rather than on the "slow slow" steps.

    I, too, was taught the the man steps back, back, something that DOES show up in the Western Swing syllabus. I find, though, that when the man does a rock step rather than two steps backwards, you stay "tighter" as a couple, and this facilitates the connection.

    (Now, hopefully I won't be embrassed when I read the entire thread!)
  6. etp777

    etp777 Active Member

    Love all the input on this thread. :) THanks guys!
  7. RickRS

    RickRS Member

    The simpler thing would be the lady doesn't start moving forward until the man moves her forward. She waits in the anchor position until that happens.

    And in the sugar push, the lady doesn't reverse direction until the man moves her backwards. Waiting for the man to reverse the direction results in the compression thats important to WCS.

    GJB's description is correct, but lots of beginners ladies won't wait and the elasticity is lost as they do their pattern without any lead.
  8. Ithink

    Ithink Active Member

    Rick, while I agree with what you are saying in principle, your wording can be read incorrectly by a beginner lady which could make her become VERY heavy for the man. I.e. the man is NOT supposed to *move* the lady but to indicate and lead the direction of her movement. Once the indication occurs, the lady is supposed to move herself. Numerous men have complained to me about how heavy some women are, how they have to be pulled out of anchors and pushed out of push breaks, greatly diminishing the gentlemen's enjoyment of the dance. It's the woman's job in WCS to move up and down the slot, preferably on her own without having to be moved by force.

    For beginners who have not mastered following and the sensitivity it takes to be a good, responsive follower, I would rather see them go slightly early and learn to move themselves than force their partner to pull and push them around for the sake of a connection. It's not enjoyable for the leader to be hampered in this manner and to be forced to force things. This way, even if they don't have a perfectly connected dance, they still walk away with full use of their arms.
  9. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    The amount of connection discussion here is very similar to discussion of "connection" in Argentine Tango. Perhaps I am not a gentleman, but my favortie partners are more on the "heavy" side (connection wise), precisely because they feel more "connected" to me making us more "one", rather than us being two people doing moves together. There is also more of a exchange of energy with this "heaviness".

    Note that this a personal preference for both dances: WSC and AT; and this is all on a continuim.
  10. Ithink

    Ithink Active Member

    If you like a heavy connection, then by definition it is NOT "heavy" to you, it's just right. A heavy connection presupposes that such a connection is NOT desirable, that such a connection is uncomfortable and hurts people. What you are desiring is just the right amount of connection *for you* to be able to dance your best. That's not heavy, in my parlance, but good.

    Certainly, the strength of a connection is in the eye of the beholder, it's a pretty subjective continuum. But what I was talking about is NOT something one would call a preferred connection, but one that hinders in enjoyment of the dance. If you had to physically haul your AT partner around the floor, I am fairly certain you would NOT enjoy it.
  11. Flat Shoes

    Flat Shoes New Member

    I agree to this. Work on basic technique and understanding leading and following. When both leader and follower understands the concepts, it is no problem for the leader to choose where the follower ends up (as long as she is following).

    I don't think you should consciously aim to not drift, or to increase/decrease step length. The length of the step should come naturally from what is lead. You should end up where you are lead, and adjust your steps to match your body.

    Dancing comes from the body, and the feet are there to support the body. Does that make sense?
  12. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    If you like a heavy connection, then by definition it is NOT "heavy" to you, it's just right.
    Pretty good definition with a built in qualifier!
    Some of the "old" texts state that the woman should match the man's resistance.

    Well, there is the chest to chest apilado style.
    But, yeah, it's always possible to have too much of a good thing.
    A pet peeve of mine is when it seems woman want to dance with as little resistance as possible, making it feel almost like you aren't really dancing together.

    It's just almost impossible to teach "connection", based on what I often run into on the dance floor in these two dances: WCS and AT.
  13. RickRS

    RickRS Member

    note to wonderwoman: ignore all this hair-splitting over lead/follow. You just got started, so enjoy yourself and have fun. After you've got the basics steps, then worry about all this. ;)

    Ithink's point is good, as the lead doesn't want to have to drag the follower down the slot all night long.

    But at the same time I have a problem with beginner followers starting down the slot early before I've started the pattern, leaving me feeling like I to have to jump out of the way to avoid getting run over. In the sugar push there also the beginner followers that start backing up before I start forward on the &4 with the result of zero compression and a look that's more like we're playing patty-cakes instead of doing a sugar push.

    For the record, I'm learning WCS from a female instructor that preaches a 2 pound connection between lead/follow. Dancing with her is great, a light but consistant pressure.
  14. utahswestcoastswing

    utahswestcoastswing New Member

    Take some more classes and have fun learning the basic steps.:p

    Connection is one of the key components, if not the most important component, in WCS, making the dance so unique. It is hard to describe connection because it is something that is felt. Connection is a topic of debate even at the professional level. I would not worry yourself too much about the connection and traveling until you understand where the steps are taking you. Even I have a hard time teaching connection and feel this is more for an intermediate lesson.

    Also, don't be afraid to ask someone who has experience in WCS to dance with you. There is no better way to learn and get better than to dance and feel a good connection.
  15. GJB

    GJB Well-Known Member

    I agree that it is important for the lady to learn not to start travelling down the slot until she receives the lead. This is a common problem beginners have. I also agree that the lady should learn this very early on.

    I have recently had lessons with several of the top WCS pros and they teach what Ithink has already stated: the leader is supposed to indicate and lead the direction of the followers movement. They are also teaching one lead per direction. So, once the lady has started travelling down the slot, she is not given another lead unless you want her to change direction i.e. an inside turn on 3&4. So, lead the step and allow the lady to dance - same thing as in the ballroom dance world.

    One point I disagree with:

    "I don't think you should consciously aim to not drift, or to increase/decrease step length. The length of the step should come naturally from what is lead. You should end up where you are lead, and adjust your steps to match your body."

    Since the lady is only given one lead per direction (to initiate her movement and allow her to dance her part), she needs to learn how much to travel. If the lady travels too far, some patterns will be difficult to lead. Travelling too much/taking big steps is a common problem for ladies coming to WCS from ballroom.
  16. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    one thing that's been helping me gauge how much to travel is, once the leader has led me out of the anchor, to become very gentle in my arms so that i can better "hear" what his next idea is as i'm traveling down the slot. otherwise i just wail right by him and miss that he might want to slow, stop, or turn me as i'm approaching or passing him.
  17. GJB

    GJB Well-Known Member

    This "becoming gentle in my arms" is very compatible with (maybe even essential to) the one lead per direction/initiate the movement and allow the lady to dance concept.
  18. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    makes sense. it creates a kind of vacuum where the next bit of info can really be felt. seems to help me stay in the moment after i've moved.
  19. GJB

    GJB Well-Known Member

    Re: connection, I think the reason some ladies are heavy is that they use the wrong part of the body to make the connection. Blake Hobby recently gave a connection workshop at Hudson Swing Affair. She stressed that there are three types of connection: compression, leverage, and neutral and the type of connection may change throughout each pattern. The connection is made by moving your hips relative to your heels. In compression the connection is toward your partner and your hips are in front of your heels. In leverage the connection is away from your partner and your hips are behind your heels. In neutral your hips are over your heels. I think some people incorrectly lean forward or back from the ankles in an attempt to connect with their partner. This makes the dance heavy.
  20. Flat Shoes

    Flat Shoes New Member

    In my opinion the lead should tell the follower how much to travel.

    I know traveling too much is a problem with beginners, but that comes from the follower thinking they know how much they should move, instead of moving as being lead.

    Of course as beginners the leaders might not lead properly, so the follower must, to a degree, move on her own to compensate. But when a leader leads properly, the follower should follow what is being led, and only that.

    I agree with this, but will add few things I find important.

    Always keep connection. Even when not actively changing the direction or momentum of the follower, as long as there is touching there is a connection, a very slight force/pressure/drag.

    When the leader needs to change the followers momentum or direction, the force is increased to indicate the direction. This is usually not an abrupt change, but should be smooth.

    The leaders is not dragging or pushing the follower, but indicates through the lead direction and speed/momentum, the follower moves her own body accordingly. And this goes back to what I wrote above, the follower moves her body. The legs job is to move the body where it is being led, and the length of the steps should be fitted accordingly.

    This is in my opinion the basic rules of leading and following. But when you know and understand the rules, you can start breaking them, which opens up for many new kinds of improvisation. (And here the leader can chose through his leading how strict he will enforce the rules. He can lead in a very controlling way, or he can give lots of freedom.)

    As usual speaking from a Lindy Hoppers point of view, but I'd be surprised if this was very different in WCS.

    What I teach is to not use more force than necessary. Lindy Hop is a very dynamic dance, and counter balance is often used, which will lead to a lot stronger connection than 2 pounds.

    But as a general rule, I advocate a light connection too, or as I word it "no more force than necessary". And I totally agree with your instructor, and think it is very important, to have a consistent connection. That makes for much smoother leading/following.

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