Mirroring Your Partner

West Coast Swing Online Styling

The third option for styling as a partnership is to mirror your partner. While this is the method of “team styling” that most people think of first, it’s actually a risky choice because there’s a lot of opportunities to get out of sync. But, mirrored styling does look impressive when done well, so it’s worth learning how to do it.

The interaction between partners in general is better with better communication, but it’s really important when mirroring. The person who is mirroring the movement obviously needs to be paying attention, but the person who is initiating the movement has a big responsibility to express their intention clearly.

The Drill: Stand in front of your partner. One of you will be the initiator and the other person will be the responder. The initiator’s job is to pick a movement and execute it as clearly as possible. The responder’s job is to mirror that movement.

Begin with simple, slow movements:

  • Taking the arm out to the side for four counts, and then bringing it back in for another four counts
  • Stepping to the side and taking four counts to transfer your weight, then coming back for four counts
  • Changing levels by relaxing the knees for four counts, and then straightening the knees for another four counts

The responder will have plenty of time to catch these movements, so the initiator should focus on making the rest of the body quiet and initiating the movement from the body, so the responder’s eye is drawn to the movement.

As you become comfortable with four count motions, you can speed up to two count motions, or you can do more complicated movements. Try matching footwork variations, rotation to the side, or body isolations.

As the movements become more complicated, it becomes increasingly important for the initiator to be consistent. Your partner has no chance of matching your footwork if you are changing every two beats, but if you repeat the same triple (e.g., side and cross), the responder has the opportunity to pick up the movement.

Responders: when movements become more complicated, focus on first matching rhythm and then matching placement. For instance, if your partner is doing footwork, try to match their rhythm (double, kick-ball change, triple, etc.) first. Then, keep doing that rhythm with the initiator while you adjust the details (are they crossing or hooking their feet? Is the arm going straight to the side or at an angle?)

Remember to practice both roles!

[mediacredit inline=”FALSE”]
Dance Instructor

Join the 12,000 WCS Dancers.
Who get our...

WCS Move of the Week
send each week straight to their inbox FREE!
"I'm excited to share with you"  -Brian B