Dancing Within Your Frame for Leaders

West Coast Swing Online Connection

Although WCS dancers talk about frame more frequently with followers, leaders need to become comfortable with their own frame as well. For leaders, understanding the size of your frame is the key to body leading (and eliminating arm leads), creating shape during your patterns, and letting your follower develop her anchor.

The Drill: Find a thin, tall object like a halogen lamp stand. The object should be stable enough to stand upright on its own, but not so large of a base that it can’t be pulled over. If you don’t have anything, a friend can help by holding the end of a broomstick or a long dowel.

Gently put your left hand around the object and stand in third foot position. You should have enough room in the arm to roll through your anchor without overextending or pulling on the object.

From that position, run a push break without pulling the object over. This includes stepping back on 1 and back or together on 2. If you need more arm room, move your anchor closer to the object and try again. It will feel incredibly cramped the first few times you do it, and that’s ok. The goal of this exercise is to train you to move small and to stay within the space created by your arms. Whenever you need to, reset in your anchor position and try again.

In real dancing, your partner is going to come towards you because of the energy built during the anchor, and so your arms will absorb that energy during the 3&4 of the push break. For now, though, focus on managing your own energy within your own frame.

Bonus Variations: This drill can be extended in a virtually limitless variety of exercises. You can practice dancing within your frame from your right hand. You can practice doing footwork variations or adding angles to your dancing. You can work on rolling through your feet within your frame. Whatever skill you are practicing—make sure that you can execute it without depending on additional slack from your partner’s arms.

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