Keeping Your Own Timing

West Coast Swing Online Musicality

In a partner dance, it’s easy to be pulled off time by your partner. The pro dancers, however, have learned to use their bodies to adjust so that their feet can maintain the dance’s rhythm.

In this exercise, you’re going to work on maintaining your own foot rhythm while your body reacts to your partner’s timing. This drill is extremely tricky because it requires one partner to be deliberately off time while the other is focusing on compensating for those mistakes, but it is extremely rewarding because you’ll be able to make the dance feel amazing in almost any social situation.

The Drill: For this drill, you’re going to do push breaks. Have one partner be responsible for rushing their first triple. If the leader is rushing, he will try to send the follower out too soon. If the follower is rushing, she will leave the compression too early.

The other partner is responsible for adjusting to that timing. However, they have to do so without changing the timing in their feet. Their centers, arms, and foot positions can modify, but the 3&4 rhythm needs to come through clearly.

There is no one right way to make this adjustment work. Leaders can experiment with letting the follower come in further for compression or using their upper body to stay in compression longer while waiting to move their feet on 4. Followers can try using their arms to absorb the compression on the back end or giving themselves more space during the compression. Both sides can play with angles and foot positions.

Most of your adjustments won’t work. That’s fine. Your goal is to discover one or two that do work.

Alternate between partners so that each person has a chance to discover their adjustments.


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