Tag Archives: technique

Lead and Follow Without Sound

I had a really interesting experience last night, dancing with a deaf follow. I didn’t realize it right away, but she didn’t respond when I offered my name or respond to my conversation at all. And then I realized in open position, she was getting ahead of the beat. I experimented a bit with loosening and firming my left-to-right connection but wasn’t able to transmit the beat to her as effectively as when we were in closed and I could use my right hand and forearm (I suppose I don’t actually have any idea what her level of hearing loss actually is, or how well she could feel the beat in open; I just know when she was on and off the beat).

I’d like to experiment in the future with lead and follow classes where the lead hears the music through earbuds while the follow has ear plugs. How effective do you think you’d be at staying on beat with these limitations?

Slowing Down Practice

Spoke with a guy a few months ago after watching him practicing Shag.  Now, I don’t pretend to be a terrific Shag dancer, but I like to think that I’m a terrific learner.

I helpfully volunteered my advice, which is a terrible, terrible thing to do.  But I like A, and hoped he could take my advice in the context that I meant it: wanting to see him succeed.

Once we’ve learned basics, it’s easy to get trapped in a place where we want to make those basics extremely dynamic, extremely fast, or extremely stylized.  In my mind, it’s too easy to focus on the end goal (in A’s case, the speed of the music he wanted to dance too) and not enough on a good path to the goal.

I came across a story about how Ben Hogan (widely regarded as having one of the best swings in pro golf, ever), would practice his swing:  slowly.

I even like the quote in the description of this second clip:
“Fast playing is not based on fast practice. It’s based on flawless execution at slow speed.”  — Daniel Bonade – World class clarinetist

Speed can cover up the technique problems in movement.  Can I perform my movement perfectly at very slow speeds?  Once I’ve corrected gross problems at slow speeds, I move on to performing it at close to normal speeds.  Then a bit faster.  But I try as hard as I can to perfect my movement at each speed level before speeding things up again.

How We Step

I recently saw this video on barefoot running that reminded me of some thinking I’d done about how we step in Lindy Hop.  Starting at about the 3 minute mark, there’s an interesting discussion of how the forefoot running stride differs from the heel-strike based stride.  But what triggered this memory was the image of the force transfer at the end, when presumably the runner was taking the next step.  There’s a propelling force off of the back foot that naturally happens in running that’s a bit hidden in walking or dancing.

Imagine taking a step forward on a specific count.  Lindy Hop instruction tends to focus on the foot we’re transferring weight onto.  But as thinking dancers, it’s just as important to consider the foot that we’re pushing off of.  A step forward on count 1 implies thinking of propelling off of the other foot after 8 but before 1.

Video at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jrnj-7YKZE

In Lindy Hop instruction, I’ve heard a lot of instruction that doesn’t help people understand this idea.  Something like, “Use the floor more!”

I think it would help if we spoke of pushing off of one foot onto the other.