[Callers] Timing & Force

John Sweeney info at contrafusion.co.uk
Sun Jun 30 02:33:18 PDT 2013

Laurie said, "Also, I have talked with many who have developed, as I have, a
shoulder/neck problem. This seems to come from inexperienced dancers or
assertive regular dancers (not terribly good dancers) when they FORCE a
turn, especially at an incorrect time.

"I'd love to hear from someone how to describe to a dancer who wants to
twirl what the correct timing is - can someone give me a good way to put
this out there?"

Hi Laurie,
	Unless you are running a workshop that let's you go into more
detail, then the best way is probably to drip-feed hints and tips as you
teach the dances.

= = = = = = = = = =

	Regarding timing, I emphasise that, while you can do what you want
in your own time and space, on beat #1 of the next phrase you and your
partner should be in the right place and facing the right way for the next

	So, when there is a change of direction, don't think of a move as
being 8 beats, think of it as being 6 beats plus 2 beats to transition to
the next move.  This applies to, for example:

Down the hall & turn alone
Circle left/right
Star right/left
A simple flourish on the end of a swing such as an inside or outside turn
For the inexperienced: opening out from a swing into a line or circle

	If the dancers are all doing the basic transitions well on beats 7 &
8 then just remind them occasionally that a twirl on the end of a swing has
to happen on beats 7 & 8 as well.  Pick a dance where the transition into
the next move is demanding and remind them to finish their flourishes on

	Make sure the twirler knows that they are responsible for the
twirlee's timing and positioning as well as their own, and that they should
plan ahead.

= = = = = = = = = =

	Regarding force, these are some of the points I make:
(Note: although contra dancing is not about lead and follow, a flourish such
as a twirl out of a swing often is - so I use the terms leader and follower
purely as indicators of who is leading and following in a flourish.)

Rule #1: Everyone is entitled to get on the dance floor and have fun without
getting hurt.

"Dancing is the vertical expression of horizontal desire", so RELAX!

A strong lead is about clarity, not strength.

(As an example, I often put my hand in an allemande position and get someone
to blow on it - as their breath hits my hand I do a complete spin. People
who want to spin don't usually need any force from their partner - they are
quite capable of spinning themselves!  A strong platform can be useful to
push off, but if you try to push someone into a spin you are more likely to
push them off balance then to help them.)

When you are following, remember (as one excellent teacher used to say) "It
ain't my job to drag your ass across the floor!", so, when someone leads you
into a twirl or any other flourish, send the message straight from your
fingers to your toes and follow the lead - don't fight back!

Always start with ZERO tension and build up to what you need to execute the

You aren't fighting each other - you are only fighting centrifugal force.

Unlike arm-wrestling, if your hand moves nearer to your body in an
allemande, YOU LOSE!

It's dancing not wrestling!

You are responsible for your own balance.

Leaning backwards in swings or allemandes doesn't make you go faster it just
makes your partner have to waste their energy holding you up.

= = = = = = = = = = 
	Of course, the people you most want to listen to these tips are
probably the ones who aren't listening!

	If I seem a little passionate about this subject please forgive me,
but I have had two shoulder operations as a result of dancing, and am hoping
not to need another one.  

	Hope that helps! :-)

Happy dancing,

John Sweeney, Dancer, England john at modernjive.com 01233 625 362
http://www.contrafusion.co.uk for Dancing in Kent

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