Coloring with Rotation

West Coast Swing Online Styling

Another way to add color to the dance is through rotation. Increasing or decreasing the amount of rotation in a pattern can dramatically change the feeling of a movement. In general, changing the amount of rotation in a pattern is done by the leader; followers have more control over whether they overrotate or underrotate turns. Thus, this drill will focus on ideas for leaders to alter the rotation of the dance. Overrotation is more common because it adds energy to the dance, but you can also play with moves that have less rotation to take the juice out of a movement.

CAUTION! Rotation is a tricky element to play with! Other forms of coloring, like modifying the height or length of patterns, work all the time because they obey the rules of WCS. Rotation bends (sorry for the pun) the rule that WCS is a slotted, linear dance. That means two things. First, you won’t be able to rotate patterns with every partner. If your partner is a beginning social dancer, rotating patterns is asking for trouble. Second, especially in competition settings, know that rotation is outside the standard scope of WCS. Make sure that you demonstrate the essence of the dance consistently and only bend it sporadically.

The Drill: This drill is more of a suggestion of patterns to try. There are hundreds of ways to change the rotation of patterns; consider this post as a starter kit of ideas that you can build on or modify. No matter what pattern you pick, the leader needs to remember that he is responsible for establishing a slot for the follower. If the pattern rotates, the leader thus needs to be extremely clear about where the slot is at the end of the pattern and needs to guide the follower back to the slot, if necessary.

Push break to the side: This push break goes into the triple as normal, but the leader builds more compression in the right hand than the left by opening his left side while remaining in the slot. On 4, instead of sending the follower back, the leader sends the follower to his left at a 90 degree angle by sending through the right-to-left connection. The dance can continue with the slot rotated, or the leader can rotate both his body and the connection back to the original starting point in order to bring the follower back in an arc. Followers, if the leader rotates you back, you will probably need to adjust your footwork on the anchor: side-cross-side is a great way to travel back to your original slot.

Rotated inside roll: This pattern takes a normal inside roll and rotates it 90 degrees to the left. Lead an inside roll as normal. When the follower is tripling through the spin, the leader should connect to her back with the right hand as if he were picking her up in closed position. But, instead of staying in closed, the leader should use his right forearm to steer the follower to his left as he rotates his own body. The key to this move is making the rotation happen before count 4; by the time the follower steps back on 4, the rotation needs to be completed.

Overrotated whip: In this whip, the leader and follower rotate up to an extra 90 degrees on count 5. Up to count 4, the whip is the same. On count 5, the leader needs to really rotate his body to the right, because the follower’s extra rotation is determined by how much more the leader rotates. A rotation of a full 270 degrees (the normal 180 plus an extra 90) rotates the entire slot; if there is a smaller degree of rotation, the leader needs to direct the follower back to the slot on the anchor so she knows where she is supposed to be.

Rotated right side cutoff: This move works similarly to the rotated inside roll. The leader leads a right side cutoff whip (where the hand crosses in front of the follower, like a right side pass). By slightly accelerating the rotation and using the right forearm on the follower’s back to guide her around, the leader can direct the follower to his right (from the perspective of where the leader started the pattern).

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