An unusual drill to improve connection

West Coast Swing Online Connection

When you dance on the social floor, do you find movements that don’t work as well as they did in class? If you feel overextended, off-balance, or just plain uncomfortable, the problem might be that your body isn’t in the right position.

Today’s drill will try to fix these problems by eliminating the handhold connection. By letting go of your partner, you can easily see if your body is under your own control—or if one of you is misaligned.

This drill is useful for dancers at all levels. Raw beginners often cheat on their anchors because the connection to their partner pulls them off balance. More advanced dancers will discover that being too far from their partner means there isn’t enough slack in the arm connection to make the move work. So, this drill is useful no matter what level of the dance you are at.

The Drill: Pick a move that doesn’t feel right, and dance it with your partner. Pay attention to why the move doesn’t feel right: do you have trouble putting your feet in the right position? Do you feel off-balance while spinning? Does it feel like your partner is pulling on you?

Without trying to fix the move, simply dance it again while not holding hands. If the move is complicated, you may need to communicate with your partner so you are leading/following the direction and momentum changes at the same time.

You will each need to power your own movement through the pattern, so extreme accelerations or decelerations may feel awkward. Setting aside those parts, does the problematic part of the move feel better? If so, odds are good that you and your partner had a spacing issue. Now that you’re not connected, you can get away with being too far away. The key will be to replicate this comfortable feeling, while close enough to your partner to stay connected.

Go back to dancing connected, and slowly work through the move. Pay close attention to your spacing, especially on the beat right before you noticed the problem when first dancing the pattern. Experiment with having each partner adjust in different ways. You should eventually find an adjustment for one or both of you that works!

Dance Instructor

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