Lead-Follow from the Body

West Coast Swing Online Connection

Leading and following become easier, more comfortable, and more responsive once you learn to lead or follow from your body’s movement, rather than your arm. This drill is designed to help you learn how to move your body in order to generate or feel a lead.

The Drill: For this drill, you will need both a partner and a stretchy cord, like a Theraband or a long bungee cord. You can easily purchase a band online. Ideally, the band should be long enough to wrap around the waist of both partners while in open position, although you can get by with only going around one partner.

Begin the drill by standing in open position and encircling the partners around their centers—the band should be approximately at belly-button height for both people. If the band is too short to wrap around both partners simultaneously, trade off with one person being wrapped and the other person simply holding onto their part of the band. (N.B. It is important for the partner who is holding to keep his or her arms at a constant length for this entire drill.)

The band should be the only point of connection between the partners: do not connect through the arms! The drill is for the leader to begin leading side passes, and for the follower to wait until the band pulls her before moving herself.

This drill makes it impossible for the leader to arm lead; if he tries to lead without moving his body in the direction that the follower should go, the band will simply go slack. Likewise, the follower cannot reel herself in by tightening the arm; her movement must come from her body since there is no arm connection to work off of.

Bonus Variations: This drill can be modified to focus on additional technique elements, such as stretching through the anchor. For that exercise, the follower should pay attention to the tension in the band in order to feel the difference between a greater tension (i.e., an anchored stretch) and a lead (when the band requires her to move forward).

The drill can also be modified by using a whip pattern; there should be a body lead at both the start of the pattern as well as the 3&4 in order to create the follower’s coaster step.

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