In Focus

Change the way you think...

Miguel de Sousa

In Focus

Connection

To have Connection, one must have good frame. So let's start there.

In my opinion, frame resides in the shoulder only. That's where the energy comes into the body and engages the center. A simple exercise to engage the correct muscles to provide good frame is to place a marble inside your armpit and just hold it. Don't squeeze it, hold it. Notice that your arms are relaxed and by your side. The squeezing energy is going inside the body as opposed to trying to pull back on the connected arm in order to establish a connection.

Connection, in WCS, is developed solely through opposition. This will result in either "resistance" or "compression". Change the thought of "holding on to" the connection to "being held by" the connection. This will, in turn, engage the frame and the back muscles instead of engaging the bicep and forearm.

Try it out!

Advanced Concept and Theory

What is Connection? If we look at our dance through the eyes of Physics, we should be able to see why the dance happens like it does...and why we're told we "must" do things a certain way.

Let's look at the two connections that we have available in WCS: Compression and Resistance. Instead of trying to make the connection "happen", ask yourself...why does it happen? I pose this question at the start of workshops all the time. What is the one thing we need to do to create connection? The answer is...opposition. Let's break it down: Compression happens when two masses are converging into the same point. Resistance happens when two masses are moving away from the same point...or post. Is it starting to make sense? If we go by the notion that dance is movement...shocker, right??...then it would make all the sense that only movement...body movement...can create that feeling of connection.

Let's go deeper into it. Why is the anchor taught to be, and expected to be, in place? In a beginning class, I teach the students to just march in place in the anchor so that they learn to: 1) be on time and 2) not be all over the place and remain in the slot. As an advanced dancer, you need to look at why things are the way they are. So, why are the anchors in place? Let's go back to Physics and talk about Resistance. We have two masses moving away from each other, attached to the same point in space (the post). If they're moving at the same rate of speed, they will cancel each other out once they run out of rope (arm length). This assuming that they keep moving away from each at the same rate even when they reach the end...of the slot. In WCS, the follower is in charge of providing the energy in the slot so the leader can decide where and when to set the post and anchor the pattern. This means that the follower now has a constant speed that the leader must match in order to "cancel" the followers energy without the use of the arm...just movement...which means that the leader must start his/her movement opposite the follower before the actual connection is felt. The same goes for Compression, just reverse the flow.

Let's talk numbers for a minute. It takes 1 beat and a half for the movement of the leader to reach the follower's center. This means that the leaders need to start moving in opposition a whole lot sooner. Don't believe me? As a leader, if you're always complaining that the follower is heavy or always late on the 1...look at your movement!! Are you trying to stop the follower by moving in the same direction? Are you waiting to start your opposition movement after the follower has stopped? If you answered yes to any of the questions, you are leading way too late and I bet that you're using too much of the arm to lead the follower in. An anchor in place on 5 & 6 needs to be lead on the 4&. This means that, as a leader, you need to start your opposition movement after count 4. If you decide to make the anchor not so long (in beats of music) then you will still need to oppose your follower's movement at the right time for what you're thinking. This may also involve adjustments in frame/arm length in order to still be/lead on time. Try as well with Compression patterns, like the Sugar Push and Sugar Tuck.

Connection, and understanding how and why it works, is essential for musicality expressions and shaping/moving the slot. It can only be done once it has been well communicated...via the connection point...to your partner. I have talked mostly at the leaders here, but the followers have the option as well to start the connection/communication process.

Moral of the story? Focus more on movement and how it affects the connection/feeling between you and your partner. Be more patient and sensitive to the small nuances that such movement has in your body. Don't be so stuck on performing the pattern, at any cost, if the connection is not there to support it.

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