Taking the “jerk” out of dance is not referring to that annoying person that blames everyone for their mis-fortunate life, but the ability to move smoothly and freely across the dance floor with no “jerky” movement. We all admire Fred and Ginger’s grace and control, the question is, “How do they do that”? How do they seem to just glide across the floor?
Besides the obvious (lots and lots of practice), you will notice that they are in control and move as a unit. They place their feet on the floor deliberately with a purpose. They do not just plop their feet onto the ground.They are connected, as one. They move in continuous and fluid motion. Imagine that you are holding a gun. (no, not to shoot yourself or your partner) and pointing at a target. You must aim the gun and slowly, but steadily squeeze the trigger. If you just aim and “pull” the trigger, that abrupt action will cause you to miss the target entirely. You must ease into the motion, just as you must ease into movement on the dance floor. You do not want to be bouncing and ricocheting as you dance.
Another good analogy, used in West Coast Swing, is the old truck towing the broken down car, down the street. In West Coast Swing, it is important to establish a connection that has both compression and leverage. Imagine an old truck towing a car with a chain, imagine the chain fully stretched out and extended between the two vehicles. Now, imagine the broken down car going downhill and the truck forgetting to speed up. “Slack” has now entered into the scenario, the truck realizes his error and speeds up, not slowly to take up the slack, but in a panicked, “He’s gonna hit me mode”. What happens? There is a jolt, or jerk in reaction to the lack of a constant and continuous connection. This same principal applies to a West Coast Swing Dancers connection. Followers, do not step out of leverage and leaders, do not jerk or pull them out of leverage. Think rubber band!
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