Flow Part 2: The Solution(s)

A while back I wrote about having difficulties with my flow. In particular, I discussed how I was having issues smoothing out my dancing and getting shapes that look and feel gooey at the ends of lines.

At the time, I didn't really know what to do about it. I had some guesses, but nothing super concrete. Then, I got the chance to go to Austin where I worked with some incredible dancers and even got a private lesson with Laura Glaess, arguably the best Lindy Hop follow in the United States right now. Now I have a big chunk of the solution.

It all comes back to basics, of course. Primarly:

  1. Continuing my momentum, and
  2. Stepping directly underneath myself.
Of course every lindy hop knows these are foundational elements of following, but there's a big difference between knowing something intellectually and knowing (i.e. having real-time awareness of) it in your body. In Austin, I became aware, for the first time, how to actually do these things.

With momentum, Laura was a huge help. She gave a great analogy that she imagines she's in a river current and her leader's arm is a like a post in the river she holds onto as she's being pulled away. In this scenario, as you flow by the post and grab onto it, your body/arm would open up as the current takes you away. This is what happens at the ends of lines; you open up as the momentum/rhymthm keep you going. She also mentioned that 90+% of what is led in lindy hop is ultimately a line (albeit sometimes a fancy line with lots of turns, etc). The physics is the same. As you reach the end of your rope (your arm), you open out just as though you were being swept away by a current. Of couse, sometimes the current sweeps you into your arm, like in the 5/6 of a swingout. It's the same concept just a different direction.

Following this was the feedback to always step beneath me. I've heard this a million times from teachers and feel like it's deceptively difficult to do. One big thing that Laura pointed out to me that helped with this is that a "rock step" isn't always backwards. In fact, as my dance partner has mentioned, it's just two steps and those two steps could be literally anywhere as long as they are right under my body. So one reason that the ends of my lines looked weird is that I was trying to always rock step behind me when often the line and momentum was asking for a side step or even a step going nowhere but right in place.

Working on this and seeing my dancing since has been really encouraging. It's looking so much smoother and with more practice I feel like it will get there. It also makes me more balanced and able to respond to different kinds of moves. Sometimes getting help from an expert or fellow dancer with a super keen eye is the way to get unstuck.