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

Leading and Following

THE CONCEPT OF PUSH & PULL

Definition >

Push & Pull: Tension applied to a connection through the direction of body weight toward it (Push) or away from it (Pull).

Do not be fooled by the slightly misleading terms... Push and pull have very little to do with an actual pushing or pulling action of the hands and arms. As the definition suggests, the concept of Push & Pull center around the direction of body weight, either toward or away from a connection.

PUSH
When both partners shift the body weight towards each other at the same time, the result is a tension which creates a "pushing" sensation through the connection.

PULL
When both partners shift the body weight away from each other at the same time, the result is a tension which creates a "pulling" sensation through the connection.

When it comes to the use of hands and arms, less is definitely more. The hands and arms should use just enough muscle tone to maintain their position, but not so much that they actually produce push and pull on their own. Whenever hands and arms try to act on their own, they stop transmitting signals which are being sent by the body, and the true communication gets interrupted. Think of extraneous hand and arm movements as telephone static: The more of it there is, the harder it becomes to have a conversation.

Don't forget that connection is mutual! Push or pull therefore require both partners to be shifting their body weight toward or away from each other at the same time. It just doesn't work when one partner shifts weight toward while the other shifts away. Part of the skill of following therefore involves the reaction on the part of the follower to the leader's suggestions of push and pull. Exercises later in this lesson will focus on developing this skill.

 

LEADING DIRECTIONAL MOVEMENT

Leading directional movement in closed position is a relatively simple process: Since the partners are directly connected at the center, the leader simply moves in a direction, and the follower will automatically respond with equal movement. In open position, leading directional movement is just as easy, as long as the weight connection has been established, first.

The tension applied to a connection gives the leader a means by which he can communicate the direction of his movement. Once either push or pull has been established, the connection has been effectively "switched on", and the leading or following of directional movement can begin. With the tension in place, the leader does not need to do any additional pushing or pulling through the arms; He only needs to move his body in one direction or another. The follower will automatically feel and respond to his movement through the active connection.

 

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