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Our Teaching Phrases

Our teaching phrases change over time as we find better ways to describe the same thing. Here are our current ones with some clarifying text for both leaders and followers. These apply to both close-hold and open-hold. The only difference between the two is that open-hold is much more demanding to dance well, whereas you can stumble around the floor equally in either close or open if you have no idea what you're doing. Here they are:

"We don't teach steps, we teach Posture, Connection and Movement."

- "Stand up tall, build a bridge"- Build a bridge to your partner with your chest, rolling forward from the ribcage upwards, no more than 1-2 inches/3-4 centimetres. The bridge has to have strong foundations i.e. soft floppy knees won't work. Try changing weight a few times with soggy legs and see if your partner even notices it. Try it again with strong legs. SURPRISE!

- "Weight on your heels or mid-foot"- Weight on your heels or mid-foot for stability and so that you can relax your free leg (the support leg is strong so that you can build the bridge).


We used to tell our students to use toe pressure and chest projection for connection management ie to create a smooth continuous connection. We also talked about stabilizing their core to ensure that they didn't wobble like a flan as they danced.
That was too much to think about for most people, so now we just tell them to hold us up as we tilt towards them. SURPRISE! They stand up tall, their core stabilizes and they use toe pressure and chest projection.
They also gain the use of their partner's legs for additional balance ie not leaning on the partner but being aware that they should be helping you balance. If your partner doesn't know this then good luck, you're on your own and will have to do your best as far as balance is concerned. And your best as a single person is far less than your best as a couple.

- "Walk to your partner's centre"- Walk to your partner's centre as if they are the last, hottest person on earth, and never turn away (why would you!?). This lets the body mechanics work, is the most comfortable for the follower and allows changing to either side of the follower with minimal effort.

- "Constant shoulder height"- Maintain constant shoulder height relative to your partner i.e. you can change height but you mustn't slide up and down on your partner's chest, you must rise and fall together. Forget about where you think your feet should go and drift smoothly around the floor, concentrating on your partner's centre. Focussing on constant shoulder height means that the follower can forget worrying about the length of the step or the amount of pivot, and allows the leader to lead pretty much anything.

- "Unwind each pivot from the shoulders to the feet"- Let the turn wind it's way through your body from chest to hips to toes. When followers 'help things along' by performing hip turns then they limit the options for the leader. The follower may expect an ocho but the leader could have been about to lead a luscious colgada variation,, I guess it will just have to be an ocho, now...

- "Walk like a metronome" - A metronome is an upside-down pendulum and we use this metaphor because we try to get the concept of all movement starting with the leader's chest. If the chest moves first in every direction of movement then the follower's legs can get the earliest possible indication of where to move.
Think of a tree falling, which is the same kind of pendulum. All that happens is that you stand up tall, project your chest a little and then tip forward like a toppling tree. Where to step? How far? Oh no!! If you are worrying about these questions then imagine how the follower is worrying! Once again...constant shoulder height. You want your shoulders to glide at a constant height (you can vary the height later) so the tip forward isn't huge, it's just to start moving her feet out of the way so that you don't step on them. Your legs really are just a means of keeping your chest area at a constant height to make it easier for your partner to follow. It's always about her!

- "Broomsticks and pendulums"- The dance relationship boils down very simply to two broomsticks (your axis and hers) connected together and floating about the floor at various speeds but always together. You are supported by pendulums which the leader swings so as to to support the movement of the connected axes.
Any decisions that the follower makes will disconnect you both, any sudden moves by the leader will disconnect you both, so the key is smoooooooth.


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