How many times have you heard, “Every pattern in West Coast Swing ends in an anchor”? Today, we’re going to flip things around and make every pattern start with an anchor instead.
This exercise assumes that you are comfortable with your basic anchor: you can roll through the &a before the new 1, and you keep your center away from your partner. If your fundamental anchor mechanics aren’t there yet, no worries. Spend some time practicing your anchor first, and then come to this drill when you’re ready.
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When beginners start this dance, there is a huge leap forward that occurs when they finally “get” the fundamental anchor mechanics. There’s another huge leap that occurs when dancers learn to take that fundamentally solid anchor and blend it into the next pattern. That’s what this drill will target.
When we think about the anchor as the end of the pattern, it’s easy to disconnect the anchor from the next pattern. The dancers are actually dancing through a movement, they anchor beautifully—and then they stop for just an instant, and restart the dance with the new pattern instead of blending the two. By thinking about starting every pattern with an anchor, instead of ending it, we are emphasizing the continuity between the anchor and the new 1.
The Drill: With or without a partner, dance basic moves to music. As you dance, don’t think about the anchor as the end of the pattern. Instead, think about ending the move on the post. Then, you begin the next move by anchoring, building the stretch for the movement down the slot in what used to be your 1, 2. That stretch should naturally flow into the movement down the slot.
Don’t take this drill too literally. After you finish the dance, the anchor goes back to ending your patterns. The point is simply to shake that presumption for a little while so it’s easier to focus on the way that the anchor builds momentum and sets up the new pattern. It’s no different than dancing while wearing a blindfold: you will still use your eyes after the drill, but during the drill you are artificially changing the way you dance to highlight something that’s easy to overlook.