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Author Topic: IF you're not a WCS fan, what's the most frustrating part for you?  (Read 6413 times)
Ginger
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« on: December 04, 2009, 02:35:36 AM »

I just can't figure it out. I can dance some more complicated figures with my partner, but I think it's because I understand his leads and style better than other leads'.

Timing's part of it. I get stuck in the 1, 2, 3-&-4, 5-&-6, so that the syncopations or holds throw me off, and while I'm trying to think about that, the lead is actually trying to steer me in one direction or another.

I don't like the physical contact of it. During a coaching session, we can bump uglies, touch butts, adjust boobs, whatever, all day long. During social dancing, an accidental brush, a goof-off, stuff like that happens, it's okay... but WCS just seems so hands-on, man-handly, and an invasion of personal space, the way improperly led American Rumba feels.

The style of leading feels different from latin/rhythm- and obviously standard/smooth. I try to follow "direction of connection", stay on the slot, and "follow", but it feels like the lead for a figure changes 'mid-stream' sometimes, so I'm left thinking 'Oh, hell- what do I do now?"

Really really really not liking the "Oh, honey, *I'LL* teach you how..." who drag me out for one dance that turns into several later with them backing me into a corner- or the center of the floor- to try to give me the history of the dance, dissect various styles of the basic, drag me through things, tell me first "It's an improvisational dance designed for the ladies to hijack and show off"- which I don't- but boy, when I DO get something wrong, I get soundly "taught" and lectured on it.

It MUST be a likeable dance. Millions of people everywhere go to weekends where there's ten plus hours a day of NOTHING BUT WCS, and pay good money to do it... I'm wondering why I'm such the weirdo that i don't like it. I think part of it is that it's not "ballroom" in my own mind. When I think of "ballroom" dancing, I think of WTFVQ, and Latin as the rest. WCS doesn't fit in there. We've never studied it in earnest, know enough to teach the basics to someone, and send them on to someone else from there, but it just doesn't thrill me.

MaryEtta O'Day is the *only* lead I've ever danced WCS with besides my coach, my partner, and my pretty-boy who made me not absolutely fear and hate it.

So WCS people- what are your arguments against what I've said? Can you PLEASE shed some light on some of my grief? Part of it is just having one crap experience after another with trying to follow it and getting discouraged, but really- that happened in Standard from day one, and we're still at that, so I just don't know. I can totally hang with the basics, but when someone throws something Jason and Sophy showed them into the mix, I get through two steps of it and lose it somehow. Argh.
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cornutt
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« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2009, 12:18:03 PM »

Timing's part of it. I get stuck in the 1, 2, 3-&-4, 5-&-6, so that the syncopations or holds throw me off, and while I'm trying to think about that, the lead is actually trying to steer me in one direction or another.

Hi Ginger.  I've seen various places where you've written about your frustrations with WCS before.  I don't know if there's a peculiar local style in your area, but sometimes when you describe the WCS that you've encountered, it leaves me wondering if it's the same dance that I know.  I'm vaguely aware that WCS is one of those dances, like salsa and AT, that can become a sort of mystery cult among certain groups of people, where they try to make it a contorted ritual so as to push away "outsiders".  Maybe that's some of what's been happening to you.

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I don't like the physical contact of it. During a coaching session, we can bump uglies, touch butts, adjust boobs, whatever, all day long. During social dancing, an accidental brush, a goof-off, stuff like that happens, it's okay... but WCS just seems so hands-on, man-handly, and an invasion of personal space, the way improperly led American Rumba feels.

That's interesting, because it seems to me that the body contact in WCS is actually pretty minimal compared to, say, waltz.  After all, it's a one-hand hold most of the time.  If you've got partners who are trying to do things like rub up against you in passing steps, that's part of the problem -- WCS is intended to be a dance of fluid motion, somewhat like foxtrot actually, and Milli Vanilli chest-bumping doesn't fit the description.

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The style of leading feels different from latin/rhythm- and obviously standard/smooth. I try to follow "direction of connection", stay on the slot, and "follow", but it feels like the lead for a figure changes 'mid-stream' sometimes, so I'm left thinking 'Oh, hell- what do I do now?"

Part of the problem obviously is the one-hand connection, which makes it pretty hard for the lead to communicate intent.  I've been told that the basic rule for following in WCS (and I've only done a little bit of following in it) is, "keep going in the direction you're going until something makes you go in a different direction."  I like to think of the basic connnection in the sugar push as being sort of like a Slinky, or a weight on a spring -- I move it towards me, and it comes in until the spring compresses enough that it pushes back.  Then, it goes in the other direction until the tension builds up and it pulls back in again.  I see guys who try to lead WCS either with a stiff arm, or by jerking the follow in and out.  Both are wrong -- there's an action-reaction and it has a certain amount of momentum, and the lead has to work with that.  And yes, it's different with each partner. 

Most WCS steps cannot really be led on the 1 beat, because there is no momentum at the beginning of 1.  There are things that the lead can do to indicate the intent to do a step at the 1, but the actual lead usually isn't going to come until the 2 or later.  In a slot dance, the number of directions that can be led is actually fairly restricted -- you can move forwards, move backwards, or execute some kind of turning figure within the slot.  That's about it. 

Quote
Really really really not liking the "Oh, honey, *I'LL* teach you how..." who drag me out for one dance that turns into several later with them backing me into a corner- or the center of the floor- to try to give me the history of the dance, dissect various styles of the basic, drag me through things, tell me first "It's an improvisational dance designed for the ladies to hijack and show off"- which I don't- but boy, when I DO get something wrong, I get soundly "taught" and lectured on it.

I'm aware of some of the history of WCS, enough to know that a lot of the time, what "experts" quote about it is B.S.  As far as the hijacking, I'm going to let you in on a little secret: most leads (me included) are not advanced enough to deal with outright hijacking.  We freak out because we don't know what's going to happen next, or where and how we're going to get back onto the 1 beat.  So when a lead encourages you to hijack, don't buy it unless you know for a fact that the guy can actually deal with it.  But there are a lot of opportunities for the follow to do styling that the lead can interact with without having to go to a totally different rhythm.  It's a good dance for leads to learn the art of conversational leading. 

Quote
It MUST be a likeable dance. Millions of people everywhere go to weekends where there's ten plus hours a day of NOTHING BUT WCS, and pay good money to do it... I'm wondering why I'm such the weirdo that i don't like it. I think part of it is that it's not "ballroom" in my own mind. When I think of "ballroom" dancing, I think of WTFVQ, and Latin as the rest. WCS doesn't fit in there. We've never studied it in earnest, know enough to teach the basics to someone, and send them on to someone else from there, but it just doesn't thrill me.

It's a bit of a show-off and flirty dance, like cha-cha in that respect (although not rhythmically, obviously).  You've mentioned before that the crowd where you are does it in a draggy, behind-the-beat style.  To me that's not what WCS is intended to be.  Just because it's done to a slower tempo than ECS doesn't mean it should be a downer of a dance.  If that's what you have to deal with, no wonder you don't like it.  Also, and forgive me for saying so here, but it may be that what I mentioned in the first sentence of this paragraph maybe cuts against the grain of your personality a bit. 

I will say that I would be totally bored if I went to an event where nothing but WCS was danced all night.  Part of it is because I don't know as many steps as the serious WCS dancers because, well, there's eight other dances that I do, and there's only so many hours in a day.  Somebody who does nothing but WCS can make progress a lot faster.  But even that aside, I just think it would get monotonous hearing the same kind of music and watching the same kind of motion all day.  I like the variety of a ballroom studio. 

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So WCS people- what are your arguments against what I've said? Can you PLEASE shed some light on some of my grief? Part of it is just having one crap experience after another with trying to follow it and getting discouraged, but really- that happened in Standard from day one, and we're still at that, so I just don't know. I can totally hang with the basics, but when someone throws something Jason and Sophy showed them into the mix, I get through two steps of it and lose it somehow. Argh.

Don't know that I really have much else to add.  If you don't like it, that's your personal preference, and it is what it is.  I don't like merengue; it's not that I can't do it, it's just that it seems to me like the kind of thing you do when you've had one drink too many.  But there are tons of people who enjoy merengue. 
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Ginger
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I see what you did there.


« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2009, 02:32:30 PM »

I should clarify what I meant by 'physical contact'- I don't have issues with most physical contact, but the catches, nudges, shoves, checks, and such done by-hand are just irritating- Waltz doesn't have that. Most Rhythm dances don't have them as often as WCS. It's more like they're arranging flowers or finger-painting than leading with a quiet, solid connection.

Edit: The action some guys use is indeed PULL, then PUSH, and the "grabby" I talk about is guys trying so desperately to get their hand into the right place- yet fish for mine, wherever it is and it shouldn't be- that it seems flappy- haulyaroundy.

Our kids learn WCS from us and do fine, we can dance it, I guess I just have a block. I can dance it with a handful of people, but I think it's because none of them are capable of eroding my confidence in quite the way OverTeacher!WCSFanatic!Guys can.
« Last Edit: December 05, 2009, 04:38:06 AM by Ginger » Logged
MusicChica
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« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2009, 07:34:18 PM »

Hmm...let's see if I can manage to say something helpful here.  I might not succeed, since I'm coming off of my final showcase rehearsal and brain isn't exactly functioning at full capacity.

First of all, you're primarily a Standard/Smooth dancer, and the connection in WCS is just about as opposite from that as you can get.  I like the Slinky analogy (good one C!), and another way to think of it is a "push-pull" connection.  There's supposed to be a lot of weight in it, both forward toward your partner and back away.

As for the timing, it might help to compare it to ECS or American Foxtrot, in that you're trying to fit phrases of dancing into measures of music that don't match.  Like in ECS, in WCS you're trying to fit 6 beats of dancing into 4-beat measures of music, and in foxtrot it's 3 beats of dancing into music in 4/4 time.  Or 3-count hustle, for that matter.

C's also right that WCS shouldn't be any handsy-er than Latin/Rhythm.  There's one pattern that my fave WCS partner likes to lead where he gets his hands on my waist to lead me into a turn, but that's as far as any non-accidental touching has gone.  Guys can get a better handful of boob leading checks in rumba or swing!

I've been told that the basic rule for following in WCS (and I've only done a little bit of following in it) is, "keep going in the direction you're going until something makes you go in a different direction."

Most WCS steps cannot really be led on the 1 beat, because there is no momentum at the beginning of 1.  There are things that the lead can do to indicate the intent to do a step at the 1, but the actual lead usually isn't going to come until the 2 or later.  In a slot dance, the number of directions that can be led is actually fairly restricted -- you can move forwards, move backwards, or execute some kind of turning figure within the slot.  That's about it. 

Major ditto.  If you feel like things are changing "mid-stream," try thinking about things not as whole patterns being led, but instead as individual elements.  There are a lot of patterns that start with the same basic elements, so only take it a few beats at a time and try not to think ahead.  WCS actually reminds me a bit of International Tango in that respect, at least the way I was taught IT.  Although I'm no Standard girl, so I could be totally wrong about that part of it.  And again, C's right that you won't feel a lead on the 1 beat 99% of the time.  Pretty much the only thing that can be led on the 1 or 2 is to swivel the forward walks a little bit (ironically, that happens on the same pattern where Partner catches me about the waist).  Most patterns will begin with the lead on the 2 and the pattern actually starting on the 3.

*looks up*

Oh well.  If none of that helped, I'll try to do what I can when y'all are down here next weekend.
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Ginger
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I see what you did there.


« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2009, 04:44:50 AM »

That does click, kind of- It's not about neck-reining, it's more contact on the bit and through the legs- that can *really* screw a horse up.

For the record Dave, I don't want you to think I'm totally going after and nailing all the guys with whom I've danced before like QPO intimated so suavely- you're always on my safelist. If you lead it, I'll try to follow, and if I can't, I'll totally make stuff up until I can find the lead again.

There's a pattern in 3-count hustle that's a hands-on-hips kind of perpetual turning until signaled to stop in 3-count... that was funny as hell to watch being taught- some of our ladies are older, considerably more physically conservative- we had to stop so that everyone could pick up their jaws from the floor so they wouldn't get stepped on when the "Rotate!" was called.

Found out the other day I was totally doing my break in hustle wrong- now I'm okay with it, but the boy's starting this absolutely *adorable* hop.
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Ginger
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I see what you did there.


« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2009, 03:27:00 PM »



We have more body contact in standard/smooth a lot of times, and in l/r, there are checks, etc. too- but in ballroom dancing, you're not molding someone like they're a lump of clay- the physical contacts are more finessed and subtle than what I've seen in WCS on any level other than Jordan and Tatiana, etc. I guess. It was something I noticed last night- the right way for an arm-check was fine- but there's always one guy who has to try to dislocate the rotator cuff in case you weren't smart enough to see the check coming and brace for impact.

It really is a kind of cult argument, I guess- the ones who love it, love it, the others can give or take it.
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elisedance
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ee


« Reply #6 on: December 09, 2009, 07:27:12 PM »

WCS - a contact sport?  I did it years ago and must admit I find it hard to imagine.  I guess its because you separate and then come back at great speed - when I suppose mayhem can happen.

In my case the mayhem might end up being the guy....
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Ginger
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I see what you did there.


« Reply #7 on: December 10, 2009, 01:31:22 AM »

Well, in other dances, the lead uses his core, his weight, his body placement, etc- a lot of other factors to shape the follow in the desired 'format'. In WCS, he sometimes uses his bare hands- the difference between oil-painting... and finger-painting.

Tonight we taught WCS to a small group who liked this weirdo thing we came up with at the last minute- sidepass to lead's left with a "reverse double handshake" hold, an inside turn for the lady ending in gent's hairbrush, another turn instead of an anchor ending in lady's hairbrush.
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elisedance
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« Reply #8 on: December 10, 2009, 06:03:14 AM »

Tonight we taught WCS to a small group who liked this weirdo thing we came up with at the last minute- sidepass to lead's left with a "reverse double handshake" hold, an inside turn for the lady ending in gent's hairbrush, another turn instead of an anchor ending in lady's hairbrush.

Its amazing how another dance can sound like gibberish if you are not initiated - quite a reminder of how far one has come in one's own...
..love the hairbrush pair Smiley
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albanaich
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« Reply #9 on: January 02, 2010, 08:04:00 AM »

I think the problem here, is the reverse of what I have when doing ballroom.

In WCS and most swing dances you have to improvise the lead. There are so many patterns and variations available it makes it impossible for the follower to know or anticaptate what is going to be lead. The lead should also be closely following the music, so a swing competent dancer will alkso be trying to play with the musical phrasing and rhythms.

I like to think of it as ballroom being powerboat racing and swing being sailing. In ballrom you dance 'on' the music in swing you dance 'with the music'

The ballroom trained dancer expects something predictable  but swing shouldn't be, which is why there is all this hands on stuf. A lot more communication is needed.

As a swing dancer in Ballroom classes everyone tells me I'm a sure and confident lead, to me it doesn't like I'm leading at all, there's nothing to lead. My partner knows the sequences, the music is steady tempo, there's nothing much to think about, in fact I've discovered that if you do think about it everything goes wrong. Your mind has to he a complete blank.

There's a nice article here

http://www.eijkhout.net/lead_follow/wcs_specific.html

In 2Step, NC2S., ChaCha, Waltz, Foxtrot, etc., the followers and leaders (at least basically) are doing mirrored steps; so when first learning these dances you can adjust a misstep or timing error simply by observing where your partner is in relationship to you. WCS is more difficult to initially learn than most, because the leader's foot & body movement is so different from the follower's. For the most part you must KNOW the basic and can't "just follow" someone. Also because of the amount of time spent in an open position, the lady must learn to follow (and the man must learn to lead) more precisely than one can "get away with" in other dances.

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Vagabond
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~ Mai PiĆ¹ Senza! ~


« Reply #10 on: January 02, 2010, 08:43:13 AM »

I think the problem here, is the reverse of what I have when doing ballroom.

In WCS and most swing dances you have to improvise the lead. There are so many patterns and variations available it makes it impossible for the follower to know or anticaptate what is going to be lead. The lead should also be closely following the music, so a swing competent dancer will alkso be trying to play with the musical phrasing and rhythms.

I like to think of it as ballroom being powerboat racing and swing being sailing. In ballrom you dance 'on' the music in swing you dance 'with the music'

The ballroom trained dancer expects something predictable  but swing shouldn't be, which is why there is all this hands on stuf. A lot more communication is needed.

As a swing dancer in Ballroom classes everyone tells me I'm a sure and confident lead, to me it doesn't like I'm leading at all, there's nothing to lead. My partner knows the sequences, the music is steady tempo, there's nothing much to think about, in fact I've discovered that if you do think about it everything goes wrong. Your mind has to he a complete blank.

There's a nice article here

http://www.eijkhout.net/lead_follow/wcs_specific.html

In 2Step, NC2S., ChaCha, Waltz, Foxtrot, etc., the followers and leaders (at least basically) are doing mirrored steps; so when first learning these dances you can adjust a misstep or timing error simply by observing where your partner is in relationship to you. WCS is more difficult to initially learn than most, because the leader's foot & body movement is so different from the follower's. For the most part you must KNOW the basic and can't "just follow" someone. Also because of the amount of time spent in an open position, the lady must learn to follow (and the man must learn to lead) more precisely than one can "get away with" in other dances.


I largely agree with your assertion on lead and follow in ballroom, I see it more as a matter of timing and facilitating. IMHO there is only a limited amount of lead and follow and that is when a choreography has to be changed to avoid fellow dancers on the floor or the size of the floor is affecting the dance.
This is where the action termed "floor craft" should be applied which also should be complemented with dance-anticipation and something I would like to call "parallel choreography" a notion of adaptation of the choreography and the predicted return to it.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2010, 08:47:52 AM by Vagabond » Logged

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albanaich
Intermediate Bronze

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« Reply #11 on: January 02, 2010, 07:30:18 PM »

Well to retract what I've just said. . . . . .

The last few months I've beein in the unusual position of being the 'dance dummy' for a series of novice ballroom dancers. I am not even a competent Ballroom dancer - but I have a frim grip on 'lead and follow' because of my Swing and Argentine Tango experience.

Now these novice dancers have one of the most respected coaches in the UK, but for whatever reason, they come to the practice session I attend completely unable to dance. They know the steps - but they have no idea how to lead and follow.

It's simple stuff.

First we teach connection and frame. I just stand there and tell the girls to give me enough 'pressure' so they can feel me pushing them (yeah its a lot more than if they were experienced dancers) . Once the girl knows how much connection is needed, I get her to dance with her partner, telling her partner exactly the difference between what it feels like with me and what it feels like with him. The simple way would of course be to dance with the guy (that's how I taught my son) but they are novices and not comfortable with that.

Once we have the connection sorted, you get them to rock/change wieght to the music, so they are both in time (not as easy as it first appears if one or both of them have no sense of rhythm)

Finally we explain that the lead is from the body and MUST proceed the movement of the foot. You push the girl with your body and she has to move her free foot.

This is stuff that I learned from Argentine Tango and WCS, I cannot for the life of me figure out why Ballroom dance teachers don't teach this. I've got myself into the role of 'genius' novice dance teacher and I know NOTHING, just the basics of WCS and AT.

Leading is not difficult - if someone teaches you how to do it, and in my experience most Ballroom dance teachers (even highly trained ones) have only the sketchists idea how to do it.





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elisedance
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« Reply #12 on: January 02, 2010, 09:02:59 PM »

Leading is not difficult - if someone teaches you how to do it, and in my experience most Ballroom dance teachers (even highly trained ones) have only the sketchists idea how to do it.
Just can't leave well enough alone can you?  I bet that if you danced with me I would probably find your type of lead most difficult to follow.

And, I hasten to add, that you would conclude that I was an awful follow....
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albanaich
Intermediate Bronze

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« Reply #13 on: January 02, 2010, 09:15:02 PM »

The nature of my lifestyle, with constantly changiing dance partners, of varying ability in very different dance forms means that I have to lead well - I don't have the luxuary of doing set routines, with partners I know, with dances that they are familiar with.

When I arrive in a new town I always start in the begiiners class, so I'm invariably leading novices.

One of my favourite things (with a good follow)  is to lead something from one dance form in another. You can lead an Ocho while doing a Waltz :-) (you end up with a Twinkle, that how I discovered what a 'Twinkle' was)

It's just so much fun when they go where you put them, even if they don't know what's happening.





« Last Edit: January 02, 2010, 09:21:15 PM by albanaich » Logged
cornutt
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« Reply #14 on: January 02, 2010, 10:11:28 PM »

WCS is more difficult to initially learn than most, because the leader's foot & body movement is so different from the follower's.

Absolute, utter hogwash.  The follow's part in WCS is back-reflection of the lead's part -- the follow goes forward where the lead goes back, and vice versa.  There's an option for how to dance the middle bar which the lead and follow may do differently, but that has no impact whatsoever on the basic part.  In ECS it's even simpler; the follow's basic is an exact mirror of the lead's. 

Y'know something?  You are not the only social dancer in the world.  I dance both ballroom and swing a lot, and I find that most of your ideas about how they differ are vastly wrong.  And your dance like you write, your talent does not justify your snobbish attitude towards ballroom dancers.  Furthermore, I think the only reason you are really saying this stuff is because you are trolling; you just want to start a fight.  You had better decide pretty soon why it is that you want to be here and what you are trying to do.
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