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BALLROOM DANCE LESSON
LEADING & FOLLOWING, PART 1: OPEN POSITION

Connection

THE BASIC ONE-HAND CONNECTION

To illustrate the basic technique, we will use a very simple one-hand connection, where the man holds the lady's right hand in his left, at approximately waist level. Once learned, this technique can be applied to almost any other hand-to-hand connection.

Notice, first of all, that the hands are held approximately at waist level, or slightly above. This is important for two reasons:

1. The point directly between each partner's center of balance is the point of maximum leverage. Placing the hand connection in this area improves the partners' sensitivity to each others' movement.

2. At waist level (or slightly above), the forearm is roughly parallel to the floor. Both forearms are aimed directly into one another, so that the energy moves straight down the middle of the connection, without deflecting out to an angle. Let's take a closer look:

 
STRONG. Energy directed straight through the middle of the connection. WEAK. Energy deflected off to an angle.

 

HAND POSITIONING

In the basic one-hand connection, the man's hand is extended with the palm turned upward, while the lady's hand extends with the palm turned downward. Both hands should be very lightly cupped, with the fingers held together (not spread apart).

TIPS FOR HAND POSITIONS

Don't grab or squeeze your partner's hand. Not only are your fingers very poor transmitters of lead and follow signals, they're actually distractions. The more you squeeze, the more you muddy up the connection, and the more difficult it is to communicate with your partner. Besides, it hurts!
 

For similar reasons, don't press down on your partner's hand with your thumb.
 

Don't spread the fingers apart, or stick them out in various directions. The thumb can be held loosely apart from the fingers, but the fingers themselves should stick together, as though you were wearing mittens.
 

Keep the hand loosely cupped. This creates just enough friction to hold the connection together when tension is applied through push or pull, without the need for a grasp. If you allow your hand to flatten-out completely, you may slip and lose the connection with your partner.

 

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