Practicing Floorcraft

West Coast Swing Online Grab Bag

Floorcraft is a skill that doesn’t get talked about a lot, but it makes a huge difference in the quality of the dance. Dancers who are masters of floorcraft are sought after within their communities because their partners feel safe. Dancers who don’t learn floorcraft are labeled as reckless and are less popular, especially when the floor is crowded.

Ultimately, floorcraft is about working with your partner to manage your space. Leaders have the more obvious floorcraft responsibility because they are picking patterns, but followers have just as much control over how much space the couple takes up on the floor. Because both partners can improve their ability to control their movement, both partners have the opportunity to improve the floorcraft of the couple.

The Drill: In your practice area, find a way to mark out the dimensions of a typical WCS slot (6-8 feet long and 3-4 feet wide, or roughly 2 meters by 1 meter). You can use chairs to mark the edges of the slot or put down shoes on the corners of the slot. As you go through the drill, be aware of where these markers are so you don’t collide or lose your footing.

Start by dancing your basics within that space. After a few minutes, shrink your practice space and try dancing again. Your goal is to slowly decrease your slot space, as if you were dancing on a crowded floor. You should be able to control your movement throughout the space: use smaller steps and be aware of the movement of your arms and legs so that you don’t go outside your zone.

As the space continues shrinking, you may need to adjust your styling. For instance, try to keep your footwork variations underneath yourself instead of making big leg sweeps or side steps. Have your arm styling go more up and down rather than out, or style by bringing the arm across your body. Rotate into your connected arm more often so that you take less space, and keep your connected arm shorter.

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