Selecting Anchors for Open Rotating Patterns

West Coast Swing Online Anchor Step

In the last post in this series, we introduced the idea of selecting anchor variations that match the momentum of the pattern. This post will expand that idea with open rotating patterns.

In an open rotating pattern, the last action before the anchor is a rotation towards a more open body angle. The basic example of an open rotating pattern is a right side pass. For the leader, the rotation towards the follower on 4 opens the right side of the leader’s body. The follower likewises opens the left side of her body on count 4 as she moves into her anchor.

For leaders, most whip variations are open rotating patterns. In a basic whip, for instance, the rotation on count 6 mirrors the leader’s basic movement on count 4 of a right side pass. Followers rotate open on most inside movements: both basic side passes, an inside roll, a push break with an inside roll, a whip with an inside turn, etc.

Because the body needs to finish opening through the anchor during open rotating patterns, these patterns work really well with anchor variations that have an opening action. A simple example is the cross-and-third anchor: on the first count of the anchor, the dancer crosses their anchor foot in front of the supported leg, then recovers on the & of the triple and finishes in third position for the last beat of the anchor. So, the leader would dance this variation on a right side pass by posting on 4 while leaving the body slightly under-rotated (i.e., the body is facing into the left arm instead of being square to the slot). That shape makes it easy to cross in front with the right foot for 5, replace weight on the left for &, and finish opening towards the follower to complete the anchor in third foot position on 6. The follower would finish the right side pass under-rotated on 4, continue the momentum to cross in front with the left foot on 5, then finish the triple &6 while opening the left side of the body to a neutral position.

The Drill: Practice dancing open rotating patterns with the appropriate anchor variation. You can use a mix of open rotating patterns to develop your comfort with linking the patterns and anchor variations on the fly.

Just like the previous exercise, the next stage is to practice pulling out the open rotating variations on open rotating patterns and using a standard anchor for other patterns. As you dance, ensure that you are using the right kind of anchor variation for that pattern.

More advanced dancers should experiment with additional ways to do this anchor variation. Any action that goes into the arm before opening up works well, as well as actions that continue the momentum into the arm and finish in an under-rotated position. As you practice your variations, take care that you keep your action controlled—you don’t want to flop open at any point during the anchor variation.

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