Step smaller to improve connection

West Coast Swing Online Connection

Many dancers take steps that are too large compared to the movement of their center. When their feet move further than their center, the angle of their body changes and hence the connection changes as well. In this exercise, you will practice keeping a consistent connection by stepping underneath your elbow.

The Drill: Either by yourself or with a practice partner, dance a song and keep your arm relaxed. For this drill, it’s important to keep your arm close to yourself. A good test is to try holding a baseball or tennis ball in your armpit: if you drop the ball, you extended your arm too far.

Keeping your arm close is important for this drill because you’re going to use your arm as a checkpoint for your foot positioning. As you dance with your arm relaxed enough to hold the ball, focus on stepping underneath your elbow. Leaders, moving your center is what moves your arm, and you need to move your feet the same amount so your elbow and foot remain aligned. Followers, you need to move your center and your foot in response to the hand movement. The movement starts slightly differently because of the different roles, but the end result is that the center should move in order to put the foot underneath the elbow.

Practice this exercise with different size steps and different tempos of music. No matter how big (or small) your steps, or how quickly (or slowly) you move, your elbow provides a reference point for where your step should go.

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