Dance Blindfolded

West Coast Swing Online Grab Bag

Everyone agrees that a great connection makes the dance better. But, it’s hard to get good feedback on your connection as a beginner because we don’t always listen to the physical connection. It’s easy to respond to what you see from a person and assume that the connection is working. However, there’s a simple way to focus on the physical connection: dance blindfolded.

Blindfolded dancing is a very popular instructional technique. By removing the visual cues, you have to listen through the connection to where your partner is, what they are asking you to do, and whether they are prepared for your next movement. It benefits leaders by making sure that they are using their body to indicate a direction for the follower, and it benefits followers by ensuring that they don’t get ahead of the lead.

The Drill: For this exercise, pick one or two of the objectives below. With a partner, blindfold the follower. The leader should then lead for a song, with both partners concentrating on the selected objectives.

You can choose to focus on any of these objectives, or other objectives that your instructors have suggested:

  • Having the follower stay back on the anchor. To help with this, the leader should occasionally anchor (but not stretch) and then hold for two extra beats before stretching. If the follower anticipates the next lead, you both will know it!
  • Having the leader create a body lead on 1. Followers, if you can’t feel a clear lead from your leader, or if you can’t tell what direction you are being led, don’t go.
  • Having the follower stay into the connection. Leaders, you can lead push breaks or whips and pause before the redirection on 4, extending for two beats. Followers, fight to stay into the connection as long as possible.
  • Having the leader maintain the slot. Followers, focus on aligning with where the leader’s arm/hand puts you. The leader needs to ensure that he is keeping you in the slot.

Now, have the follower take off the blindfold and have the leader put it on. Dance again, focusing on your objectives. When the follower was blindfolded, it was easy for her to tell when her instructions were unclear. Now with the leader blindfolded, it should be easier to feel when the follower isn’t responding in the way you would expect. Leaders: this does not automatically mean that the follower made a mistake! If something feels wrong, both of you need to work together to figure out how to fix the issue. Sometimes it’s on the follower’s end, sometimes it’s a leader issue, and sometimes it requires both to change. If you can’t figure out a solution together, then this is a great question to take to your local pro.

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