Some guy: what an awesome post! I think, if I understand your wording correctly, my coach calls your "stepping backwards into the leg" "move back before you move forward". So that before any forward action is taken, a backward action must take place first. And she does use sports analogies as well. For example, when a baseball player swings a bat or a tennis player swings a racket, they not only draw the bat/racket back before they swing it forward to make the swing more powerful, they also draw their body/spine/hips back into the heels which allows them to then produce a more natural and a stronger movement forwards.
Your coach is absolutely correct: I've played raquet sports, and the analogy is correct: the harder I sink my body/spine/hips back into my heels the more powerful my raquest swing becomes. Same thing applies to dance.
Thanks for providing the Cliff's Notes to what I attempted to explain!
Some guy, I read your post earlier and enjoyed it, sure it was long, but it was worth the read.
I had a thought on it about the concept of "stepping back"--just as you said the concept of "energy" didn't work for you, for me personally the concept of mentally "stepping back" causes a bit of confusion. Specifically, I think that the concept of mentally "digging back into the heels" could cause some to actually shift weight there, which for the swing dances would usually be a no-no. Also, the concept of stepping back as I'm landing on a foot (as in step 2 of the natural turn, I think you described, can't remember) disrupts my mental intent to continue swinging forward, and immediately shifts my focus away from timing my body. I do understand what you mean, but the concepts just aren't for me, at least not right now. These are just thoughts on what you said, and thank you for posting them, it's always great to hear new ideas!
I agree with everything you said Josh. I can see how stepping back can be confusing. I tried not to use the words "heel" or "digging in" in my original description for this very reason.
If I may attempt to address your concern about the disruption of your mental intent to swing forward, immediately after you land on one foot, your body will continue to swing forward provided you attempt to back into your next forward step. Your body will have to overtake your feet and swing into the appropriate position to create the feeling of backing into each step. It keeps your energy constantly moving forward as you never step passively. You're always landing with potential forward energy kept in check and directed only by your choreography.
Can I point out here, that AFAIK, this idea of "stepping back" into a step is another way of describing "pulling" yourself onto the new foot. This is very much a Luca Baricchi idea that few other teachers (other than thse trained by him) approve of...
I may be wrong in my interpretation of what "stepping back" is meant to mean, but if I'm not then there are two different schools of thought - one which the vast majority of teachers belong to says: "the body moves and the legs simply flow underneath it, apart from the single swing step per figure (generally) which swings ahead of the body" and the "Luca" school of thought which says that in every step there is a receiving leg which goes ahead of the body and "pulls" the body towards it whilst the standing leg pushes off. My teacher described this approach as very "leggy" and the anti-thesis of the idea of trying to create a smooth body flight, where the body movement is the priority "thought"
So, given the exponents of the Dance Bible on DF, I thought it was worth trying to clarify these schools of thought... (just as I was trying to do/discuss about the early/late CBM schools of thought).
Actually even the swing step is basically "under" the body in the sense of being placed about where the body would crash to the floor if there were no leg to catch it.
and the "Luca" school of thought which says that in every step there is a receiving leg which goes ahead of the body and "pulls" the body towards it whilst the standing leg pushes off. My teacher described this approach as very "leggy" and the anti-thesis of the idea of trying to create a smooth body flight, where the body movement is the priority "thought"
Something that should be very apparent especially if you see a video of this danced in practice clothes rather than in costume is the large amount of arch in the lower back required to create space between the partners for this leggy reaching.
So, as someone attempting these "Luca" school concepts, I have a question: how exactly does the body move so that the legs could catch it *without* using said legs/hips/back? Does it fall through space using solely gravity? I mean there only two ways to move a body that I can see: 1) to let it fall with gravity and then catching it and b) to move it by activating the joints in the hips to move the body back to prepare it to be moved forward by the muscular structure of the hips, back and legs.
For the proponents of #1, how do you let your body fall? What do you do inside your body to make it happen? What muscles do you use or don't you use any and simply use gravity? I'd like to know because while I've heard a very physiological explanation for Luca's school I've yet to see one for the other school to make it make any sense to me whatsoever on a physiological level... I've had my hips tucked in by coaches who teach #1, told that one doesn't use one's spine while dancing but uses the front and told to "scoop up" my partner as I go forward. None of this makes sense to me nor does any of it feel good and free like the other method does. It doesn't feel balanced or powerful either... It actually mostly feels painful and uncomfortable, to the point where I do not want to take from these big name coaches again! So please tell me I am missing something and Luca's school isn't the Golden Truth that I am beginning to believe it might just be...
FYI, there is a school of thought that considers feather/3 steps as turns (that except for intentional straight walking steps, most movement in ballroom are turns).
The reason in that thinking: swing in ALL the dances tend to create turns in MOST if not all of the figures (including [big gasp, queue dramatic music] the Tango--now, now, YES I know, that will cause a semi-virulent reaction in some quarters, but don't shoot the messenger).
OK, the Cliffs Notes is all well and good but in point #2, exactly HOW do you get your body to move forward over the forward foot as soon as the heel lands? What do you use to get there? And why is your foot forward when your body isn't there when the "non-Luca school" espouses the view that your feet are constantly under your body adn are supposed to catch your body not extend in front and then have the body move there when the heels lands? How did your foot get in front so that your body has to now get there? Seems to me your Cliffs Notes does not jive with this school and is more in sync with Luca's teaching... Am I wrong?
OK, then where does this momentum come from to get it "going there" from the previous step? Where does this "body flight" come from, physiologically? In other words, what in the body works to create the momentum?