Intermediate dancers are taught to flashlight their partner in order to enhance their connection. The next level of connection adds in an awareness of how the partner’s frame is asking to be shaped. The following drill is designed to practice this concept.
The Drill: With a partner, stand in open position with a normal, left-to-right handhold. The leader should raise the arm so that the follower has room to walk underneath, and both partners should walk past each other. (The follower is passing on the leader’s left side, but the leader is also traveling towards where the follower started. This is not a WCS pattern, and the leader is not giving a body lead because he is moving against the follower’s motion.)
As the follower and leader pass, both should rotate their bodies in order to keep their hands in front of them. The rotation action is much like a tether ball—as the rope (the arm) runs out of slack, the object at the end of the rope rotates around the point of connection. The rotation will be in the same direction as a side tuck, with the follower turning to her right and the leader to his left, but there is no tucking action. To feel the rotation, both the follower and leader need to keep a good frame; the pectoral muscle should be engaged throughout this exercise.
Both partners should continue to walk past each other in order to feel this tethering action. Be sure to practice with other hand connections and with moving down the other side of the leader!
Bonus Variations: Once both partners are comfortable with using the tethering action to rotate, the leader can practice adjusting the timing and degree of the follower’s rotation by moving the point of connection. The leader can rotate the follower early in the pattern by making the tether run out of rope earlier; if he delays the point at which the rope runs out of slack, the follower will rotate later.