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Focus workshop 30/09/07 - More mind reading: Pre-leads & body positioning!

Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.
Yesterday I finally managed to resume the monthly focus workshop & tea-dance Sundays. The venue was the Friary in Dundee and we had a great turn-out of dancers from all over Scotland!

I am hoping to post a blog entry after each focus workshop, as a means to provide notes for all who attended and write down my thoughts after each class, summarizing my views on the topic.

This month's topic was mind-reading, a catchy title for 'Pre-leads & body positioning'.

The concepts of pre-leads is to give followers a hint of an upcoming lead so that they are more ready to follow the lead when it comes and can be more responsive.

We distinguished between 2 types of pre-leads (there are other but we didn't have enough time to cover them all):

- Directional pre-leads:

The basic principle is to prepare a change of direction by pre-leading in the opposite direction just before the lead. The most commonly known example is the prep to the right (from a lead's perspective) before the Cerocspin.

We worked on several direction changes:
from a lateral swaying motion (blues position or slo' Comb for example) leading to a back & forward motion (Manhattan, Mambo steps) by shifting our weight back (towards the heel) just before the step forward. With good connection, this prepped the follower to the new direction and facilitated the first step.
From the back & forward motion to a lateral motion (reversing the previous exercise) by shifting our weight to the right foot with a slight lift of the torso (to make sure followers exercised patience here and didn't put their foot down until the man shifted his weight left).
From a lateral swaying to a rotation (First move opening) by rotating the left shoulder back (and keeping our weight on the right foot) just before pivoting the followers out on their right foot.

Simply put, the basic principle for pre-leads is to hint at the new direction by moving (subtly) in the opposite direction just before the lead. We emphasised that the pre-lead should be subtle so that it didn't become a lead itself.

The above examples were all 'body led' where the pre-leads were indicated by subtle weight shifts and mostly came from the torso.

We also worked on hand pre-leads, using the turns / returns as example:

From a turn (at the end of most Ceroc moves) we led the followers's hand back and very slightly to the (leader's) left to pre-lead the return (ACW).
We then did the same turn but leading the hand in a straight line (or very slightly to the right to compensate anticipation) so that we would pre-lead a forward (straight down the track) step instead of a return.
Finally, we led the hand further back and to the (leader's) left to overturn the followers and pre-lead a pivoting twist as a start for twisting steps, ochoes or similar.

The main purpose of the examples above was to make leaders aware of subtle hints their hands / body give their partners and expand on their repertoire. It was also useful for followers to realise why they follow some leads better and to learn to listen more.

- Timing & Velocity pre-leads:
The second part of the workshop was to work on the intensity and velocity using pre-leads to control the timing and speed of the lead.

The simplest exercise was in a slow comb, swaying from side to side and pre-leading the exit by pulling in (change of direction - lateral to back&forward) but this time increasing the intensity and creating compression in the follower's right arm by moving in too. The more compression was created the faster the exit (no need to lead the exit by pushing, simply relaxing the pull - letting go is enough to lead the step back).
The second exercise was in the blues position, when moving from a lateral swaying to an opening out. As we pulled back our left shoulder, we also pulled in our partner using the right hand behind her back but offered the inside of our thigh as a new connection point (against the outside of her leg), once again allowing compression to build up until release when we open up our right arm to lead the pivot.

The above 2 examples allowed for really sharp and dramatic exits. The intensity of the compression build-up should be proportional to your skills but never overly strong.

I think that summarizes most of what we worked on yesterday, but if I forgot something, I'll add it later, or let me know in the comments below!

Until next time

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Comments

  1. Tiggerbabe's Avatar
    A fab afternoon with a brilliant turn-out. Can't wait for the next one