The goal of a good connection is to be able to manipulate your center and have your partner’s center respond.
This center-to-center connection makes it possible to move in tandem, rather than watching your partner do something and trying to copy it afterwards. No matter how quick you are, there will always be a delay if you attempt to mimic your partner. So finding your center in west coast swing is vital.
If you are connected with your partner, however, you can move in perfect harmony.
In order to connect your centers, you first need to find your center. This drill will help you feel where your center is. In short, your center is the zone of your body about the size of a fist that cannot move more than 3 to 6 inches before you have to take a step.
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A drill to find your center for west coast swing
Your center is in the middle of your body, so we’re going to locate it along a front-to-back axis as well as a left-to-right axis.
Stand with your feet together, with no space at all between them.
Bend forward leading with your shoulders. You should be able to lean forward fairly far without having to move your feet. Go back to neutral and move your hips forward. Again, you should be able to go fairly far without moving the feet. Your center is somewhere between these two points. Work your way down from the shoulders and up from the hips to find an area that you can’t move nearly as far without losing your balance. It will probably be around your solar plexus or waistline.
You’ve located the front-to-back component of your center. If you imagine a plane splitting your body into front and back, that plane will run through this point that you can barely move before you need to move your feet.
Now do the same drill from side to side. Working from top down or bottom up, find the area of your body that can barely move to the left or right before you need to take a step to regain your balance. Imagine a plane cutting your body into left and right halves; this plane goes through this center.
You’ve now found two planes: a front-to-back plane and a left-to-right plane.
You’ve also worked from top to bottom and found approximately where your center is vertically. Where all of these pieces meet is your center.
Moving your center practically demands that you move your body, which is why it is so important for dancing. If you move your center, your body will respond. Likewise, if you move your partner’s center, he or she has no choice but to move the body.
You’ve now found the place that is going to initiate your movement when dancing.