Let us now return to the original questions, assuming that you now have a lady that responds to your every move and can move herself around.
How do you transmit your lead?
I think you should have realised by now that you do not hold her in a vice-like grip and push or pull her where you want her to go. In fact you do not use your hands or arms at all, other than by keeping them in the right position, by always keeping you body facing hers and by always teaching your centre point to her so that you can maintain your constant framework and keep your communication. Also if you have mastered all the body positions explained In the previous sections then you have all the tools you need to lead correctly.
How do you tell her?
You do it by showing her – by putting your body in the right position and shape so that she can follow you. It’s as simple as that. How do you help her?
By understanding that she is perfectly capable of getting from A to B If you give her a chance, by not knocking her off balance, by not turning away from her, by not her behind and by keeping a constant framework tnat doesn’t change depending on the figure or sway you are doing.
Let us look tor a moment at the laws of physics. To push (or pull) an object so that the object moves means that the pusher must be in a fixed position and the object must be able to move. If the pusher is not fixed and is able to move then the pushing action will move the pusher in the opposite direction. Therefore if the man decides to push the lady then he must plant his feet on the floor thus stifling his own movement and causing incorrect action and footwork. II he has been clever enough to somehow keep moving, the fact that he has pushed Is still evident in the distortions of his body and legs.
Let us now look at the receiver of the push (or pull). If somebody gives you a push and you were solid and on rollers then the desired effect would happen and you would move in the direction of the push. However as you are on feet not rollers your instinctive reaction is to resist and plant your feet on the ground to prevent yourself from being toppled over. I hope you can see that this has now produced the exact opposite of the effect you were after. The moral of this little tale is that except for a few figures where this effect is used to advantage, you must never push your lady. Latin dancers also use this action to good effect but only when they are also in a position to stop the action they have created. However If you are simply asking the lady to move from A to B, which she can do under her own steam, then you must never pull her, you must use the shape of your body to show her where you want her to go or she will loose her balance in exactly the same way.
A good partnership requires a sensitivity to each other and a willingness to share and make things work. If you achieve this then the sky’s the limit.
At this stage I think that one topic follows quite naturally from the previous ones.
This can be described as the ability to stop and/or change direction if the need arises, dictated by what space or otherwise is around the couple.
There are three aspects to floorcraft. The first is as I have been describing above. The ability to lead and follow so that changes can be effected quickly and calmly. The second is a vocabulary of steps and a knowledge of what can be done from a particular position. The acquisition of this skill doesn’t just happen. It has to be worked at in a practice session with the help of your teacher. A good knowledge of basic figures helps. As does setting aside time to try out moves and practice keeping poise and control no matter what. The third is the will to do it. There seems of late to be a predominance ot ‘sticking to my routines no matter what’ syndrome even in high level dancers who should know better. I don’t believe that these dancers do not have the skills, they just need the will to use them.
I put the blame firmly on the man’s shoulders. No lady would want to risk having her hairstyle demolished, tailing onto a hard floor or having an elbow in her eye or the back of her neck. He seems to ignore the fact that his own partner is just as much at risk as the other couple (it is usually the lady that takas the brunt of the collision).
I do not absolve the ladies completely. There are very few occasions where both the man and the lady are not looking where they are going. Even if this were the case the man can do what he does when he drives his car. He cannot look in all directions at once but he can monitor all around him by using his rear view mirrors, estimate the direction and speed of the other vehicles to assess the likelihood of a collision and take avoiding action. Ladies – you are his rear view mirror! If only you are looking in the direction of travel then it is inexcusable for you not to transmit the presence of an obstruction which allows him to manoeuvre out of danger.
What do you think the adjudicators feel about this – they are not stupid and can see when a crash was avoidable. I hope I speak for all adjudicators when I say I am impressed more by a couple who can weave in and out of trouble expertly and with flair and poise rather than by a couple who stick to their routines no matter what danger they may cause.
The beginner dancer has not learned these skills and is not good at floorcraft. The expert dancer surely has and has no excuse for not using them. You, I will assume, are somewhere in the middle. I hope you will feel that it is a worthwhile skill to acquire and that you will spend some time and effort in perfecting it.