We’ve all had that one dance: the one that felt so connected that it was just magical. But, it’s not magic—it’s the skill of connection. How can you develop that skill so you feel the magic more often?
Aside from situations in which you are deliberately changing the connection (like when a leader accelerates a pattern or the follower asks for time to play), your goal should be to match what your partner is giving you throughout the dance. In order to develop the ability to connect well, you first need to be able to feel when the connection changes. Becoming aware of the connection is the purpose of this drill.
The Drill: With your practice partner or at a social dance, make it your goal to pay attention to exactly what your partner’s connection is. Does it get lighter in the middle of the side pass? How much lighter? How much compression is built on a push break? Are there times that the connection fluctuates? Disappears entirely?
The key to this drill is to assume that there is more that you are not yet hearing, and to listen for that. Beginning dancers don’t yet have the skill to listen to their partner’s connection, and by the time they learn their basics they have spent so much time dancing with poor connections that they have learned to filter out the hand-waving, inconsistency, and subtle changes in leverage/compression as noise. We’re now trying to unlearn that beginner filter, so push yourself to hear more subtle details that you used to ignore.