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Author Topic: waiting - the essence of following  (Read 12044 times)
elisedance
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« on: December 30, 2009, 06:02:24 AM »

This has come up on occasion on other topics but I think it needs its own since as my dancing progresses I'm coming to realize that its really the essence of following - and not just by the woman either, while it is the woman's lot, the man has to do it much more than one would think from how ballroom is usually taught. 

Perhaps the most extreme example, and the one where it affects both partners equally, in virtually any rotational step the partner on the inside has to wait for the one on the outside mostly because they have a longer distance to go and more energy to do so.  Learning to wait here can make many dances far easier - the best example I think (from standard) is the vieneese where in all the progressive steps the dancers alternate between moving and, if not stopping at least moving as a result of the partner and not waiting (I say progressive because the fleckerl is an unusual rotation in that both partners are move...

However, I'm discovering new waiting 'opportunities'.  This came up in part of our waltz routine where we do a fallaway reverse, double reverse spin (DRS) to a contracheck.  We have had a heck of a time with that contracheck - despite being pretty good at this in other dances and other parts of our waltz.  My partner kept complaining that I was putting my foot out prematurely for the contracheck and it was pulling us off ballance and I would protest that I had not even moved my foot.  What it seems to boil down to was that I was lowering prematurely at the end of the DRS to get into position for the contra-check.  Adding a 'wait' - that is wait for the lead to lower - seems to have solved this long-standing problem. 

I've gone into this in some detail because its really a new level of dancing for me, learning not only to follow when to lower but exactly when not to do so and how slowly to go.
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pruthe
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« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2009, 04:45:26 PM »

I'm thinking that waiting is a real important concept too, something that takes time to master for both lead and follow. I was doing some basic FT steps with my practice partner today and it felt like she was slightly ahead of me for some of the steps. I asked her to wait a bit more in her actions and it made a big difference in how things felt to me. I felt I had more control in leading the steps. I'm sure there are places where lead needs to wait too, as you have identified. I also seem to remember DSV saying somewhere that follow should have weight between feet at different points, which might be another form of waiting.
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elisedance
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« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2009, 04:51:06 PM »

Hi there pruthe

the weight between the feet concept is one I've read - and I can see the logic for - but is not something I do or understand.  I like to get my ballance over one foot and feel that I am most sensitive to the lead in that position.  Its another concept that could do with its own topic...
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samina
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« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2009, 07:47:11 PM »

i was endlessly, frustratingly not able to "wait" properly, even when i understood i should and tried to last i left off with my training & lessons. my body just would not obey (such a theme in my experience with evolving as a dancer). fwiw -- fixing alignment problems, freeing up my SI joint, and improving hip mobility gave me so much more ease in my body, and a sense of "free flow of information" from the feet up through my center, that it radically changed this capacity for "waiting". it continues to improved all the time, as changing the body from the inside out (along with the correlating non-physical dimensions) has a potent domino effect.

i can feel how my body is so much freer to wait in a relaxed and suspended (if required) state with my body weight in between my feet. what a huge change. hanging your weight in between your feet is utterly liberating... like flying or floating. and it seems to me, that's where the magic of that following would take place with greatest ease, because all the tension has been released in order to create that ultimate state of receptivity.

so what i'm getting at is that it's not just attention and "waiting", but also the body has to be free enough to allow the kind of spaciousness and ease required to flow with the man on a moment's notice. my off-the-floor observations while still on hiatus, IAE...
« Last Edit: December 30, 2009, 07:51:30 PM by samina » Logged
elisedance
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« Reply #4 on: December 30, 2009, 07:49:26 PM »

I agree entirely S...  waiting is no use at all unless the body (really the mind of course) is capable of relaxing through the wait, as it were. 
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Some guy
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« Reply #5 on: December 30, 2009, 10:08:44 PM »

I think the concept of the lady being between the feet is being looked at from too narrow a perspective.  I think the key is to look at the partnership as a whole.  When the couple is a whole, the man dances from foot to foot indicating clear direction and movement for the lady, and the lady stays in between the feet open to any change in movement or direction.  Together, as a couple, the unit is whole and complete.   The lady being between the feet is what enables her to not be committed to a particular movement but rather be open to any movement in any direction that the man initiates. 

Waiting, from what I understand, is an exercise for both the man and the lady.  The lady has to wait for timing, direction, speed, power, and choreography.  The man has to wait for the lady to finish executing the steps he lead.  Then when she's finished, he has to wait for the right moment to fill up the space that she created for him.  I didn't know that the man's job was to create space for himself and fill up the space that the lady provided for him.  The minute I grasped this, there was no fuss, no complaints from my partner indicating that I was throwing her off balance or not giving her any space.

However, this brought into account a whole different paradigm of lead and follow.  "Waiting" seemed to be more of an exercise for the man than for the lady.  The man can lead, but he must wait for the lady to execute.  Once the lady executes he can fill up the space she created for him.  The hardest part was to realize that I could only fill up the space the lady created for me.  For example, I might've had an image of a HUGE natural turn, but if the lead the lady received from me was for only that of a small natural turn, then I have to suck in my ego and fill up the tiny space she created for me, not barrel through her to force the image I had in mind.  I realized with time that the clearer the image was in my head, the closer my partner got to creating that image.  The key: patience.
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elisedance
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« Reply #6 on: December 31, 2009, 02:51:51 AM »

Fascintating post SG.  But I still end up with the sensation of a pulsation where, although initiated by the man, there is alternating waiting.  I think the natural turn in VW is the classic example.  It seems to me that there the jobs are almost equal, each partner alternates through the move-wait cycle.  I get your post but perhaps there are more subtleties depending on the step itself?  I mean steps where it is liteally as you say and ones where its more like the example here?
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pruthe
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« Reply #7 on: December 31, 2009, 04:00:14 AM »

I think SG's summary has refreshed my mind as to concepts that DSV had previously mentioned. Thanks for doing that. I think I'm understanding basically what he is saying and it does makes sense. Yes, I agree the partnership has to be considered as a whole for things to work correctly. I'm still a little confused as to what is totally happening for both lead and follow. I was thinking of some other analogies that might simplify.

What if lead/follow actions were to be thought of as similar to a ball (follow) being held loosely (and not gripped) in the hand (lead). (Hope no offense taken with this example.) If want to throw ball forward, hand will initiate a swing forward to get the ball going. During initial part of swing, hand is requesting how far the ball should be thrown and the ball would ideally follow. After the ball is thrown, the hand continues to try and maintain contact with the ball, following it's movement. But, in this analogy, the ball has the ability to change it's movement. For example, it could move further than requested and slip out of the hand somewhat, and the hand really doesn't have that good of control of the ball at this moment. Ideally, the ball would stay connected (lightly) with the hand. After ball lands, the process starts over again. That's the analogy for a ball being thrown forward. But what if ball is being thrown backward. In this case, the hand is pointed forward, but moving backward to initiate the swing. So the initial swing is requesting how much the ball is going to be thrown backward. And since the hand is not gripping the ball, to keep from not falling out of the hand the ball would want to stay lightly connected to the hand so both are moving as a unit during completion stage of the throw. Again, after ball lands, process starts over.

Does this sound like a good analogy? Some waiting concepts are occurring, I think, in that a constant connection is maintained with hand and ball, but I think there are other aspects of waiting not included here that elise was bringing out. Anyway, this is what I'm thinking about at 4 a.m. in morning after reading SG's post and can't sleep. Will try and go back to bed now and when get up later hope this post makes sense.
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cornutt
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« Reply #8 on: December 31, 2009, 09:56:03 AM »

Fascintating post SG.  But I still end up with the sensation of a pulsation where, although initiated by the man, there is alternating waiting.  I think the natural turn in VW is the classic example.  It seems to me that there the jobs are almost equal, each partner alternates through the move-wait cycle.  I get your post but perhaps there are more subtleties depending on the step itself?  I mean steps where it is liteally as you say and ones where its more like the example here?

It seems to me that there are two different flavors of waiting: waiting for initiation, and waiting for execution.  At the beginning of a step, the follow is waiting for initiation; the lead has to indicate what is to happen next.  Once something is initiated, there are points where either partner may be waiting on execution, such as Elise's VW example.  Waiting for initiation, to me, seems like the more difficult job.  I do a lot of social dancing with follows of all skill levels, and I can definitely feel the effects of a follow who hasn't got waiting for initiation calibrated right.  For example, some follows, upon realizing that they're late, will try to speed up to get caught back up; others will just go with it.  Sometimes I marvel at the fact that following is even possible.

I observe that a lot of leads don't learn about waiting, because it isn't emphasized in their instruction.  Us leads can get into the mind-set that we have to be making the action happen all of the time, and it takes a good instructor to point out that this isn't true.  Going to Elise's example again, when I'm on the inside of a VW natural turn, I don't have to make my partner go.  All I have to do is clear the space, and then stay connected while she does it.  In the smooth/standard dances, the follow really can't initiate very much, so given that leads don't have to learn about waiting for initiation, it's too easy for us to overlook waiting for execution.  In Latin, the follow does have opportunities to initiate, but the wait points are pretty well established by the steps themselves, so it still goes by without a lot of conscious thought on the part of the lead.  That's why salsa and swing dances (especially WCS) come as a rude shock to some leads -- follows have lots of opportunities to initiate, and the lead must learn the art of being interactive without letting the dance fall apart. 
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pruthe
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« Reply #9 on: December 31, 2009, 10:57:14 AM »

At the beginning of a step, the follow is waiting for initiation; the lead has to indicate what is to happen next. ...

So do you think there are hints leader can give follower to indicate something is to happen? Or does follower just have to be aware of leader's movements in order to catch the initiation?
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"It's not what you do, but how you do it."

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cornutt
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« Reply #10 on: December 31, 2009, 11:41:22 AM »

I don't know that I'm sophisticated enough as a lead to really understand the difference... intellectually, I think I get what you're talking about, but when I picture in my head doing it... could you give an example?
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pruthe
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« Reply #11 on: December 31, 2009, 01:06:02 PM »

I don't consider myself that sophisticated either. The main hint I currently use is a lowering action which puts the follow on guard about the initiation of a figure. But others may not use this approach. For example, what do you as lead do to initiate movement on steps 4-6 of basic natural or reverse turn in waltz (Bronze American or Intl)?
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"It's not what you do, but how you do it."

"The Truth in Ballroom Dance is found in the Basic steps."

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Some guy
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« Reply #12 on: December 31, 2009, 05:03:47 PM »

I observe that a lot of leads don't learn about waiting, because it isn't emphasized in their instruction.  Us leads can get into the mind-set that we have to be making the action happen all of the time, and it takes a good instructor to point out that this isn't true.  Going to Elise's example again, when I'm on the inside of a VW natural turn, I don't have to make my partner go.  All I have to do is clear the space, and then stay connected while she does it.  In the smooth/standard dances, the follow really can't initiate very much, so given that leads don't have to learn about waiting for initiation, it's too easy for us to overlook waiting for execution.  

This is  exactly it!
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Some guy
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« Reply #13 on: December 31, 2009, 05:16:36 PM »

I don't consider myself that sophisticated either. The main hint I currently use is a lowering action which puts the follow on guard about the initiation of a figure. But others may not use this approach. For example, what do you as lead do to initiate movement on steps 4-6 of basic natural or reverse turn in waltz (Bronze American or Intl)?

Well, two approaches.  One is using the body, the other is using the "weightless lead".  The body lead is more physical and harder for the lady to follow.  It's less clear. The body lead also has the tendency to cause the lady to tighten up when force is exerted on her.  It's a natural reaction.  So it takes a very very experienced lady to be able to relax and follow a physical lead well.  The weightless lead, on the other hand, works much better on less experienced folks.  The best way for me to explain the weightless lead is to hold the lady with a relaxed lightness in your body as you would if you were to walk with her in a park.  Then execute the step completely in your mind before your body has a chance to react.  

I think the Dog Whisperer demonstrates this best when he walks his dogs (HUGE apology for the analogy, but it's very apt and quite fascinating).  He gets much better results than the usual owners when he uses "calm assertive energy" (as he likes to call it) coupled with a relaxed leash.  Men typically confuse "assertive" with physical movement. That's why I said to execute the step in your mind completely before the body has a chance to react (before any physical movement).  When you feel the lady move, fill up the space she creates for you.  Oh, by the way, don't tell the lady that you're using a weightless lead on them unless they're used to it.  People in general are a little apprehensive about being led around by someone else's mind.  

Going back to my example of walking in the park, note that you don't have to tug at and drag around the lady to indicate where you want her to go.  There is decision on one party and agreement on the other.  No physical force required.  The only thing required is "patience", and that's where "waiting" comes into the picture.  When using the weightless lead, it's imperative to wait for a response.  Sometimes the response is physical movement by the lady in the desired direction and pattern.  Sometimes the response is, "I have no idea what you're asking me to do", in which case you have to re-initiate with a little more assertion in your mind.  Sometimes the response is, "no thank you.  Let's do something else".  The more aware my partner has become to my weightless lead, she has a habit of using her energy to tell me,  "nah, that's too boring.  Here, follow me".  I'm hoping there's a coach somewhere that will say that my partner really needs to stop doing that.   Grin  The key is waiting for the response before initiating any further action.  This is just my two cents. Hope I didn't stir up a hornet's next.   Undecided
« Last Edit: December 31, 2009, 05:45:59 PM by Some guy » Logged
elisedance
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« Reply #14 on: December 31, 2009, 06:19:44 PM »

Fantastic - by the way we hear nothing of the weightless-follow... when I'm at my best I barely touch my partner.  It permits him to dance as if by himself.  Is the weightless-follow an element in the body school?  Or is it termed someting else?
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If you must leave the house, go build a home...

The limit of your love is also the limit of your art...
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