Give Length to the Triple

West Coast Swing Online Footwork

Many dancers struggle to roll through their feet. Especially when the music gets fast, it’s easy to dance flat-footed or fall through the foot so quickly that the roll gets lost.

Most footwork exercises emphasize rolling through the last step of the triple because that step gets more time, and so there’s more opportunity to roll through the foot. This is an important foundational skill. But, if you only practice taking time through the “step” of “tri-ple step,” the first two weight changes of the triple get neglected.

In this exercise, we’re going to give our focus to the first two steps of the triple so they aren’t neglected. This drill is a corrective: we’re going to over-emphasize the first two steps even if it means the last step gets short shrift. In the wild, you’ll want to strike a balance so all the steps get their appropriate length, but for this drill we’re going to err on the side of putting too much focus on the first two steps because it’s so easy to neglect them during practice.

The Drill: Put on a slow song and dance triples while rolling through your feet. As you do so, think about the tri- and -ple parts of the “tri-ple step” cadence being really long.

Normally, dancers think about triples with the focus on the last beat. The cadence tri-ple step encourages you to draw out the last foot action by lengthening the step into something that sounds like “steeeeep.” By contrast, tri- and -ple become quick sounds. The effect is to dance “short short long” (or even “short short looong,” really drawing out the long sound).

In this exercise, make the tri- and -ple weight changes long sounds as well. Think “long long loonger” rather than “short short long.” As you dance to long sounds on the first two steps of the triple, concentrate on feeling your foot articulate all the way through the sound.

At first, you will probably be late on your weight changes. That’s ok. Keep practicing. Eventually, you will be able to sustain the long sound on the first two steps of the triple while staying on time. Doing so requires a lot of control, so keep working at it! The end result will be much better footwork through your entire triple, not just the last part.

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