Sending from Closed to Open

West Coast Swing Online Connection

Have you ever danced a push break that truly felt connected? In a great push break, the movement of the follower into and away from the leader feels like an actual cause-and-effect action instead of two people holding hands and stepping. This drill will help develop that feeling by playing with the connection during the 3&4 of a push break.

The Drill: With a partner, dance a push break. On counts 3&, let the compression build up just a hair less than normal. On count 4, the leader should release the compression by taking a step back instead of sending the follower, and then finish with an anchor on 5&6 in open position. As the leader moves back, the follower should match the leader’s connection by switching into leverage as the leader settles back.

The point of this exercise is to feel what it is like to send the follower from closed to open position by playing with a variation in which the follower is not sent away from the leader. Both partners should pay attention to how the connection works during the compression and release phase of the move.

Leaders: focus on keeping the connection smooth during this process. You should still build up compression during 3&, but it won’t be enough to send the follower on 4. As you step back, make sure that you don’t let the connection disappear—it should smoothly switch into leverage.

Followers: focus on matching the connection your leader is giving you. As he steps back, he should still be in compression, so you should stay in compression as well. Fight to not anticipate the send on 4 and to stay into the connection.

Once you can lead and follow this move, mix it into a series of push breaks. Leaders should try to clearly communicate when they want the follower to step back on 4 and when they are moving themselves away. Followers should try to stay into the connection as long as possible in order to feel whether the leader is asking them to move.

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