Leading Directional Movement
In a closed position dance hold, leading
directional movement is a relatively simple process: Since the partners are
directly connected at the center, the leader simply moves in a direction, and
the follower will (hopefully) automatically respond with equal movement.
In open position, leading directional movement is just as easy, as long as the
weight connection has been established, first.
<Step 1: Connect body weight using a body weight connection --
either push or pull.
Step 2: Move body weight in a direction. No physical
pushing or pulling is necessary. >
The tension applied to a connection gives the leader a means by which he can
communicate the direction of his movement. Once either push or pull has been
established, the connection has been effectively "switched on", and the leading
or following of directional movement can begin. With the tension in place, the
leader does not need to do any additional pushing or pulling through the arms;
He only needs to move his body in one direction or another. The follower will
automatically feel and respond to his movement through the active connection.
As illustrated by this incredibly complicated looking flowchart, the connection is
first established, and then the body moves. The connection can then be
maintained or released. If the weight connection is released, another connection
can be established in a new direction.
Push Backwards, Pull Forward
Rule of Thumb >
Push is most often used to lead the follower to step backwards,
while pull is used to lead the follower forward.
In theory, any direction of movement can be
led with either a push or a pull connection. There are many instances where you
may wish to simply establish a connection such as push, and maintain it
throughout a series of movements with many directional changes. Again, this is
possible because once the connection is established, the follower can feel the
leader's movement in any direction. But in general, we will be discussing push
as a method of leading the follower to step backwards, and pull as a method of
leading the follower forward.
Your job as the leader is to clearly communicate your intentions. The best way to do
this is to move your body from one foot to another, in a clear direction. The
more you attempt to manipulate the follower's movement by pushing or pulling her
with your hands and arms, the more superficial and less effective your lead
becomes. In fact, it's best not to think of leading your partner at all.
Instead, simply lead yourself. With the right connection, your partner will have
no choice but to follow.
Following is REaction. In order for a reaction to take place,
there must first be an action. If you react before your partner acts,
you're not really reacting at all... you're second-guessing. And unless
you're a psychic, your "predictions" will not always pan out.
As the follower, your job is to produce an equal and opposite reaction. If the
leader pushes, you push. If the leader pulls, you pull. If the leader moves, you
move. Always respond to an action in kind.
But while this may seem logical enough, it's surprising how many followers don't
quite get it right. The most common mistake is to react to the feeling of push
by taking a back step, or to react to the feeling of pull by taking a forward
step. Remember, the leader's invitation to push or pull is not an indication
of where to move. It is merely an attempt to establish a weight connection
toward or away from each other.
So when you feel the leader's weight
shifting toward you, you should shift your weight towards him. Don't actually
take a step. Before you can take a step, the following conditions must be met:
1. You've both shifted towards or away from each other, and you can clearly feel
each other's body weight.
2. Through this weight connection, you actually feel him take a step.
To take a step before you establish the weight connection is to second-guess the
leader's intentions, which you now know is an ineffective and error-prone
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