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Connection (dance)

Connection is essential to all partner dancing. In Lindy Hop, Balboa, East Coast Swing, West Coast Swing, and all other styles of swing and ballroom dance, the partners must have a connection for the lead to be able to lead the follow and the follow to be able to follow the lead. Please see Lead and follow for more in depth explanation on whom and what a lead and follow is. This is accomplished by maintaining a physical connection, called the frame, that allows the lead to transmit his body movement to the follow.

The lead and follow should both let their arms drop down to their sides then bend the arm at the elbow until parallel to the floor. Then slightly move the elbow forward until the fist of your other hand fits inside the opening (it doesn't remain there). It should stay like that through the entire dance. Of course there are going to be obvious instances where this rule will be broken, for example turns, advanced moves, and certain styling.

In Lindy Hop a lead generally holds the follows hand by cupping his hand (like holding a glass) and the follow dropping all her fingers down and placing them inside the leads fingers. This establishes that the lead is holding on the follow. This is called open position.

The connection comes from the arm tension. Ideally a lead and a follow should hold hands as described above and be able to push, pull, and move the hands either left or right without the hands moving. For example, if a lead pushes on the follow’s hand slightly, the follow should push back with the same amount of pressure. If the lead pulls away from the follow slightly the follow should also pull away slightly with the same pressure, without moving arms or bodies in any way.

When in closed position the lead and follow are standing with the lead on the left side of the follow and the follow on the right side of the lead creating a "V" shape with the leads left and follows right hands on the open end of the "V". The follow’s left arm will be resting bent (as stated above) on the lead’s shoulder or bicep and the lead’s right arm will also be bent and his hand resting midway across the follow’s back slightly above the small of the follow’s back. The same rule applies with the pressure. If the lead is pushing up slightly with his right arm the follow will return the same pressure with her left arm downward countering the pressure.

The swing dances Balboa and Collegiate Shag use a full body connection. In these instances, the lead and follow face each other, chests and hips touching with the lead slightly positioned to his left so his right leg should be between the follow's legs. The lead then is a full body lead, if the lead takes a step back the follow's body will have to come with it to make sure the full body connection is maintained.

When the pressure increases more than the initial pressure this is the signal to the follow the lead is giving that he is attempting to direct her somewhere, generally into moves or basic footwork steps. Then the follow must do what she is supposed to do and "follow" the placement of her hand. If the lead directs a follow into a turn the follow will follow the direction of increased pressure until pressures is reapplied for another move or footwork.

See Also

To Do

Body leads. Impedance matching. Discuss mush.

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