Improving our connection in west coast swing is one of the things that students will often struggle with for a long time.
Often times the teacher will begin a series of correction telling the student that they are either ‘too heavy’ or ‘too light’
This can be a very frustrating process for both the teacher and student.
One of the things that years of teaching has taught me is that improving your footwork, specifically, incremental weight transfer, (don’t I sound fancy) can go a long way to smoothing out your connection.
Incremental weight transfer, simply put is rolling your weight through your feet as your body progresses through your foot forward or backward.
Although there are many different ways to accomplish this and unlimited style variations, I like simple things so I’ll describe it in the easiest way possible.
Watch this video> Using footwork to Improve Connection
When walking forward take a slight heel lead. Allow your foot to slowly roll into the floor until your entire foot is in contact with it but keep your weight back until your body is clearly over the middle of your foot. Then slowly release the heel of your standing foot as the weight moves into the ball of your foot and finally into your toes. This should happen about the same time as the heel of your next step is coming in contact with the ground.
When walking backwards contact your toes then quickly the ball of your foot to the floor. Let your weight slowly move into the floor through your foot until your heel touches the ground. Keep the weight in the middle of your foot with the ball of your foot pressing into the floor as your weight travel across your foot. As your weight hits your heel it should be about time for the toes of your next step to come in contact with the ground. At this time you have a choice to either release your toes and push off your heel or to push back into the floor with the ball or your foot and toes. Both create fun styling options but in either case you will have learned to control your weight transfer.
Move without a step
You can move your body forward or back almost an entire foot in space, without having to take your next step. If you were to clunk your steps and not pay attention to your weight transfer across that space you would be hard pressed to either dance smooth or stay well connected.
Once you can master controlling your weight transfer through and across your feet, your body will be in a much better position to stay connected to your partner. If you have a partner you can practice staying in a connection as the leader walks back or in a toward connection as the leader walks forward. At first this might be difficult but in time it should be come much easier.
I think you’ll find it a very easy and handy tip to improve your connection by thinking about your feet and not your hands and arms.