4.9 East Coast Swing

The lead that Ken & Donna teach for ECS is so clear that no lady can resist doing a rock step. They teach that for the triple-step, triple-step the man and lady are parallel, not in a V shape. Then the man opens up into a V (half promenade) for the rock step. They further teach for the man to place his right hand in the middle of the lady's back, not on her shoulder blade. Then to "open" the lady from parallel to the V, the man lowers his right elbow, and to "close" the lady back to parallel, he raises his right elbow.

Many students first learn the basic swing rock step in class as a 'move back' then a 'move forward'. When dancing with a partner you may find that this leaves you jerking your partner or positioned too far apart to control the next step. An instructor may show you a different way to perform the rock step 'change weight' without moving the body back and forward by keeping the step under your center. If you understand the technique from class, and can execute it, then take it home and practice it. In addition to practicing the swing rock step (instead of the "rocky" step), one can practice controlled triple steps (not the I'm-falling-to-the-left steps), 'digging' the feet into the floor (not bouncing to the side) and 'grounding' (not wobbling) can all be taken home and practiced (AFTER you see the correct technique demonstrated in class).

"*DO NOT LEAN BACK WHEN YOU DO A ROCK-STEP. DO NOT THROW YOUR WEIGHT AGAINST YOUR PARTNER. THIS WEARS OUT THE LEADER. KEEP YOUR BALANCE ON TOP OF YOURSELF OR SLIGHTLY FORWARD WHEN YOU DO THE 'ROCK' STEP. Do not rock backwards more than six inches when you rock step. That is, rock back so that the toe of one foot is even with the heel of the other foot. Think of it more as 'step step' instead of rock step. And, in a crowded dance hall, do not rock step at all, just 'step step' underneath yourself (in place)." Beginning leaders and followers often do a rock-step improperly (takes too long and looks funny) because they take too large of a step and move all of their weight onto the rocking foot (leaning back). When you do a rock step, your body should not move and the rock is a small check step on the ball of the foot. A quick fix for leaning backwards is simply to take smaller steps and keep your balance forward (which has the added benefit of keeping you closer to your partner - thus you won't feel like you are running through every figure off balance!).

There's something which seems to be near-universal behavior among beginners in ECS: the leader (often the follower too, but almost always the leader) will tend to take an immense back step on the "rock", and plant their entire weight on the left foot. Of course if the music is at all fast, this makes it virtually impossible to recover on the right foot in time with the music, and things break down from there. Even when the instructor repeatedly emphasizes and demonstrates a small back step with weight on the ball, it takes more than one session to sink in. Since this is such a common problem, here are some good teaching approaches to help people work through it. Have the partners put the proper rocking foot back in open position, and just keep rock-stepping for a while. It simultaneously works on the proper tone (getting the rubber band action in the arms), and keeping the heel up. Once they've gotten used to just the rock-step, I get them to do basics, paying close attention to the rock-steps. It works fairly well.

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This file is part of the lead/follow FAQ list. These are articles compiled from the newsgroup rec.arts.dance by Mark Balzer. Html-isation by Victor Eijkhout, victor at eijkhout dot net. See also the Rec Arts Dance FAQ list Copyright 1996/7/8/9 lies with the compiler, the maintainer and the contributors of various parts.

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