How to stop looking like a beginner

West Coast Swing Online Footwork

If you compare a new dancer to an experienced dancer, one of the first visual differences you will see is that the new dancer looks like he or she is marching, while the experienced dancer can glide across the floor. Marching is common among newer dancers because they are still learning where their feet go, and being overly deliberate makes their steps look staccato.

But if you’ve been dancing for a while, know your basic footwork, and have started to learn how to roll through your feet, you might still find that your dance looks “marchy” on occasion. Today’s drill will help fix those troublesome spots.

The Drill: On your own, stand with your feet together and your weight entirely on one foot. You are going to roll the free foot off the floor by peeling the foot off the ground, heel first. Do this in two ways, and watch in a mirror (or on a videocamera) to see the difference.

  1. As you peel the foot off the floor, think about pulling up from the knee. If you watch this action, it will look like you are marching.
  2. For contrast, think about letting the knee articulate forward, rather than up, as you peel the foot off the floor. That looks much smoother, doesn’t it?

One of the common causes of the “marching” look is when the knees are lifted upwards. If the focus is on letting the knee move forward, rather than up, the motion looks much smoother.

Practice peeling your feet off the floor, heel first, and then rolling back down to the floor from the toe to the heel. As you practice this action, focus on letting your knees articulate forward rather than lifting the knees.

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