Leadable Tension

Discussion in 'General Dance Discussion' started by salsachinita, Feb 8, 2004.

  1. salsachinita

    salsachinita New Member

    While dancing yesterday, the term "Leadable Tension" came up; that good followers should have it.

    Ok, nobody likes to lead someone who is tense. In terms of arm tension, some people perfer a nice strong 'resist', others perfer soft & supple (with strong fingers though).

    This, however, extends beyond just the arms......I think we are referring to body tension. The leadability is closely related to responsiveness here.

    The feedback being made to me was that (when being lead) I feel "too soft" (ie. I somehow absorbed the tension, resulting in a slower response) as opposed to someone who has ballroom training with the correct tension.

    However, what I've learnt from Cubans (more relates to Casino styles I gathered) was the emphasis on (almost) total relaxation (similar in Tai Chi), resulting in a laid-back (somewhat slower) style.

    What do you guys think.....? Does one interfers with the other? Do I have to have different tension levels to suit my partners accoding to their preferences.....?
  2. twodance

    twodance New Member

    Having a good connection is the only waqy to lead and follow. Most people dance with their arms, which is why they feel stiff. The trick is dance with your back, ie. pull your shoulders back and down and engage your lat muscles. This way your partner feels your body and not your arms only. But you still have to adjust to each partner. The partners that feel the best to you, are the ones doing what you are doing.
  3. twodance

    twodance New Member

    Sorry I just hate the word 'tension' in dance.
  4. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    Ditto. People are commonly way too tense, and must be told to relax... :)

    We always must try and adjust to ones partner so that we can connect well. A compromise is reached where we mirror each other.
  5. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    I understand reservations about using the word tension, especially in dance, but I also think there’s some utility to it as well. I think it's important to keep in mind that there are different types of tension, i.e. nervous, fearful, anticipatory, excited, apprehensive... just to name a few.

    SC, I understand what you're talking about. Personally, I think of this as dynamic tension or, better yet, dynamic resistance. I find the resistance model preferable because it avoids some of the misunderstandings typically encountered when using the tensions terminology. This caveat aside, however, speaking about the dynamic building and releasing of tension does seem to capture the almost breath-like ebb and flow of the best dancing.

    As far as adjusting, I’d say that yes, every leader and follower should adjust to their partner…within parameters! My general rule of thumb is to try and lead everything as smoothly as possible. With some partners it takes a firmer connection and with others a lighter one to find the match needed to smooth things out. This isn’t, of course, to say that I advocate really heavy leading and following…to me that isn’t even lead and follow, it’s just muscling a woman around; not dancing with her. But if an at least near-equilibrium is neither sought nor found than there will always be a gap between lead and follow…and we’ll never really have good connection (let alone have any chance of finding a connection).

    I also think it important not to confuse the means with the ends…a comfortable balance is what is being sought here, and this can be achieved in any number of ways. Lightening one’s following may work to tone down a heavier lead and achieve a more comfortable balance just as well as adding resistance to match the same lead may also generate that balance… it all comes down to what (A) works, (B) is comfortable, and (C) suits your preferences.

    Let me also say that I find that the dynamic tension/resistance of primarily social dances (WCS, Salsa, etc.*) is different than that of ballroom dances! I’ll ponder this some more and see if I can give you a more salsa “tailored” response some time soon…

    —SD


    * I'd think that Lindy Hop would fall into the same general category as well but, not being familiar with it, don’t want to make an assertion to that effect.

    [Note: all edits have been purely gramatical and/or punctuation related]
  6. Swing Kitten

    Swing Kitten New Member

    I think what we're talking about here is frame. Frame is how it all works... that's what the connection goes through... that's is partner dance communication.

    I realized that any definition of frame I would come up with would be a regurgitation of what d nice has said. So I ran a simple search and I'll quote the man directly since he has a nack for putting things forth in the clearest manner possible (well... ... almost! ;) )

    This is from a thread the salsa forum so I edited out some contextual stuff that doesn't apply here to focus more about a description of frame.

    I'm a firm believer in frame! ... not that I have it right... but I realize it is an important (dare say the most important?) element of social partner dancing.
  7. salsachinita

    salsachinita New Member

    Thanks, guys :D ! SD, I am looking forward to read more.........

    Sorry to quote myself :oops: , but I am just wondering if anyone here could tell me what (if any) I might be doing wrong here (without having actually danced with me or see me dance)......

    (plz response also, those of you who have danced with me/seen me dance :wink: !)
  8. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    OK, this isn't the post I was thinking about, but your latest question triggered this line of thought...

    Hmmm… sounds to me like your stopping/changing direction when you sense that lead rather than actually following through/continuing with your movement until the lead actually engages you to do so. This may seem counterintuitive, but by “jumping the gun” as it were you’re not allowing for a build up of resistance, which can then be redirected. The visual that comes to my mind is that of a rubber band…if you move the back of it as soon as you sense that the front is being moved than no resistance can be built up and no “snap” can ensue. Does that help any? Am I making any sense? :?
  9. salsachinita

    salsachinita New Member

    You are making a lot of sense.....it's just that I'm not sure if that is indeed what I am doing :? . Must check with my lead........
  10. tsb

    tsb Well-Known Member

    perhaps it would help to use examples to help put this into practice:

    - lace your fingers together;
    - keeping your fingers interlaced, press your palms towards the ceiling. you should feel it in your lats beneath your shoulders near your shoulder blades;
    - bring your arms down, keeping your lats engaged, and now pretend you're pushing a shopping cart - that approximates the amount of fairly relaxed muscle tone you should have in your arms - which adjusts were you, for example, to suddenly hit a bump, so as to keep your elbows from going back beyond the plane of your body, or if the cart were to suddenly roll away from you down hill - to keep your arms from straightening, but at the same time prompting to move your body in response to the signals you're receiving through your arms.

    i hope this helps. while recuperating from a ruptured achilles tendon, i used a shopping cart (which also carried my cane) to practice frame and heel leads while grocery shopping. i'm guessing that they assumed i was there every afternoon to take advantage of the air conditioning! (i was)
  11. twodance

    twodance New Member

    If a lady feels too soft in closed or open position, it usually means you are letting your elbows go behind your back. This is called 'chicken winging'. Resulting in no connection at all. To see if you are doing this, stand in front of a wall and put your hands on it as though you where in an open dance position. Then without moving your feet, move your body(rib cage) towards the wall. Don't let your elbows go behind you and don't use your shoulders. Keep them down and back. This is a forward connection. There is also a back connection. Do the same thing but hold onto a door knob and lean back from the ribcage.(just make sure the door is locked. One of my students came in one time with a knot on her head :oops: ). The idea in dancing is to dance your body not your arms.

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