West coast swing is characterized by an extremely smooth quality of movement. In WCS, the dancers appear to glide across the floor; there is no bounce in the upper body. Rolling through your feet in west coast swing is one of the essential techniques that creates the smooth movement!
Good foot articulation not only makes your dancing look smoother and more controlled, but it also enables you to develop body flight throughout your movement.
Many dancers struggle with rolling through the feet because their steps are flat footed, and so there is not enough foot articulation to be able to roll through.
How to roll through your feet in west coast swing
In this drill, we’re going to address that issue by thinking about peeling the feet off of the floor.
TAKE ACTION> Download our video “Rolling through your feet”
By articulating the foot as it comes off the floor, you can ensure that your foot is in a good position to roll back onto the floor when you take your next step.
The Drill: Stand with your feet next to each other in a turned out first position, and put your weight entirely on one foot.
Slowly peel the unweighted foot off the floor.
As the knee of the unweighted leg bends, think of the heel coming off the ground, then the midsection of the foot, then the ball, and finally the toes.
Notice the position of the foot as it finally comes off the ground. Because your foot is pointed, the heel is further off the ground than the toes and ball of the foot. That gives you space to roll through the foot when you place that step.
Reverse the process to roll down through the foot: toe is in contact with the ground, then the ball, then the midsection and finally the heel.
Switch weight and repeat the process with the other foot.
As you are peeling each foot off the floor, pay attention to how the ankle helps articulate the foot.
You should feel the ankle acting to point the foot as you get closer to the toe and controlling the foot’s action as you bring the rear part of the foot back into contact with the floor.
This is a drill, so over exaggerate the motion in order to develop the peeling action.
When you are actually dancing WCS, you won’t have time to work all the way to a pointed foot (especially on your triples), but the process of peeling the foot off the floor in order to roll back onto the foot will help your footwork look more controlled and deliberate.