Putting the Arm Swing into Patterns

West Coast Swing Online Styling

In today’s drill, you’ll learn to put a natural arm motion into your basic patterns. This drill is an extension of finding the natural swing of your arms, so review that exercise before trying this.

So, you’ve found your natural arm swing? Quickly do that drill again, and focus on feeling the connection between your center’s movement and the initiation of the arm swing. We’re going to look for that moment in your basic patterns.

The Drill: Slowly dance through your basic patterns. For each step, feel how your center is moving. If you were to continue that motion, how could the arms follow through?

As you discover places for the arms to follow through, try adding that motion as you dance. Start by focusing on the timing and direction: when should the motion start, and which way should the arms follow through? And when should the motion end (because your center has now moved in a different direction)? Concentrate on filling the time with your arms.

Once you have the timing down, look at the magnitude of your movement. A video camera, mirror, or friend can be helpful for this step. You want to make the size of your arm motion match the energy from your center’s change of direction. A fast, sharp change of direction will have more momentum, and so the arm should move more. For smaller center movements, the arm motion should stay quieter.

As you play with the size of your arm motion, remember that you still need to fill the time with your motion. If you need a smaller motion, you will need to sustain the motion’s energy through a smaller range of space, so make sure that you take your time in getting to the end of your range of motion!

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