I’ve talked a lot in my blog about ‘connection’. It is such an integral part of dance, but very hard to understand for a large amount of people. In my experience with students, they often fall into two categories:
- The ones who already understand these things – naturally or through education; and,
- The ones who don’t.
It is OK to be in either category. Some people fall into the first category, but never learn the technique or don’t have the discipline to develop good technique. Some become a very strong technical dancer without ever touching on the ‘soft skills’ of true connection – but keep in mind that if you refuse to explore these skills, there will always be something missing in your dance.
Regardless of which category you start in, you can learn connection Even the most awkward or shy person can learn to be a great connected dancer. There is a big misconception in dance that you either ‘get it’ or you don’t. This is NOT true.
How do you Learn a Soft Skill like Connection?
The biggest hurdle with soft skills is that teachers frequently have problems teaching them. Teaching people how to feel and interact with one another is much more difficult than teaching a technical step. Why? There are a few reasons:
- Technical skills are observable; soft skills are a feeling.
- Technical skills can be replicated through exact parameters; soft skills will differ for every person.
- Technical skills thrive on logical thinking; soft skills require an understanding of emotional feeling.
- Technical skills do not require being comfortable with another person; soft skills require making yourself vulnerable.
There are more, but these are the ones that come up most often in my experience.
On the Teacher Level
Many teachers who really connect do so through feeling, and many find it difficult to verbalize or describe just what is going in their dancing that makes their partner so happy. Hence, the propensity for teachers to say ‘just feel it’. This is a Catch-22. How can someone ‘just feel’ something that they’ve never felt? Spoiler: they almost never can.
Teachers may also draw their ideas of ‘feeling’ from what works on their body with their partners. The problem with this approach is that every body is different. What feels good coming from one dancer may feel very weird and wrong from another. It’s like expecting every person to fit clothing the same way: it doesn’t work.
Tall follows dancing close-hold dances are a good example of this. I have met 6’0 follows who have been told to maintain a forehead to forehead connection – even when the lead is 5’7. This just doesn’t work. In order to get that connection, the follow is forced to hunch and cave her upper body, or to painfully bend her knees to obtain the connection. Of course, the by-product is that her discomfort is translated to her frame and to her lead.
However, if that same follow is given instructions to make a head-to-head connection with the part of their body that makes the most sense for the height, it allows her to stand tall and be comfortable. As a tall girl myself, I have occasionally had a chin-to-forehead connection (sounds funny, but it works and doesn’t feel funny) with some short leads, and it works much better.
Teachers who are strong at teaching soft skills like connection employ different strategies. I cannot speak for every successful strategy since I can never claim to understand every method used by every teacher who has ever successfully explained connection to a student… but I can explain what has worked for me.
What Has Worked (in my experience) to Teach Connection
1. A Safe Space
The first thing that I have found needs to happen to teach connection is the creation of a ‘safe space’. If there is a time that awkward stuff is going to happen, it’s during connection class. If a space is not created where all participants can feel safe screwing up, the students cannot learn to foray into this area.
This can be as simple as getting together with a friend to work on connection, or as complex as a large group of people who are all comfortable with one another. The assumption in a safe space is that everyone there is trying their best to learn how to connect.
…which means that there will be awkward moments. Some people may end up with their hips too far forward, which is generally an uncomfortable feeling. Some may hold too tight or too loose. Some may move their bodies too much in uncomfortable ways or feel aggressive. This is part of the learning process for many people, and leads us to Point 2:
There are going to be some awkward moments in learning to connect. To correct these, feedback is always required. Feedback can be “I feel like your hips are pushing into me too much” or “I feel like you’re holding me too tight”. It can also be “Keep your elbows up, I don’t feel frame” or “I need you to hold me more”.
If someone isn’t ‘natural’ at connection, body language is generally not helpful feedback – unless body language is first defined. If you tell your partner that a specific physical cue is a sign of discomfort, they’ll usually be able to pick up on it. For example, a follow who is uncomfortable with a dip may hold tighter. A lead who is uncomfortable with a close hold may try to create more room by moving to open hold. Concrete examples like this can help to teach what connection should be, and how to recognize when something is wrong.
If you are someone who is struggling with soft skills, it sometimes helps in practices or classes to ask your partner to tell you if there are connection habits that make them uncomfortable – as long as you are open to the feedback. Even if they don’t know exactly what it is, they will be able to articulate whether or not they were comfortable with your connection. It also gives you feedback to clarify with your teachers.
What about being ‘Creepy’, or ‘Giving the Wrong Idea’?
A truth about people who are learning to connect is that they may run through a ‘creepy/awkward phase’ – not to be confused with actually creepy people who are using dance as an excuse for less savory behaviors. This is also a big reason that many people do not endeavor to learn how to connect – they don’t want to become a ‘creep’. Alternatively, they may be worried about connecting ‘too well’ and giving the wrong idea. This advice still applies.
If you are one of these people (or think you may become one), I would suggest working on connection with trusted friends and teachers first – and ask for their verbal feedback. It is OK to go through the ‘creepy/awkward/wrong idea phase’ in your attempt to learn how to connect – as long as the people you are practicing with understand and are willing to work with you through these things. I would not advise practicing this on people who you do not know well, or who may be uncomfortable with your behavior. Connection and soft skills are very sensitive interpersonally, so it is necessary for both parties to understand the need to be sensitive to each other and to keep an open mind towards the end goal.
3. Slowing Down, and Keeping it Simple
Do you practice meditation or yoga? Does working on connection bore you?
Then this section is for you. Meditation and yoga have many things in common with connection. Breath, patience, and ‘going deep’ into oneself are all intrinsic parts of these practices. Learning to take time and to delve into awareness of the whole body is key – and in connection, this same feeling extends to encompass your partner.
Many people who have issues with connection seek to speed through the ‘boring’ stuff to get to the ‘fun’ stuff… but people who understand connection know it is not boring, just difficult to get ‘in the zone’ sometimes. In order to learn connection, sometimes you need to strip away everything – and often for a long time. If you can’t even feel a connection when you’re simply swaying back and forth, how will you ever discover connection during complex moments?
Build up from a base. Take your time. Start with the most simple, base movement you can think of, and ONLY DO THAT until you can maintain connection the whole time. If you lose the feeling, restart. It can be frustrating, but the return on being willing to work through the boring is that you will open a whole new dimension to every aspect of your dance.
4. Vulnerability and Trust
This is the hardest one.
Connection requires vulnerability and trust. That doesn’t mean you need to be vulnerable and trusting that person all the time, but you need to be during the dance. If you cannot find it in you to share yourself with your partner, then they will very rarely share themselves with you.
Hugs can help with this. Getting comfortable with touch does too (of course, not inappropriate touching). Being comfortable maintaining contact with an arm, a wrist, or even at times a neck or a back open us up to connection.
It is also just as important for the side that is being touched to accept and move in to the connection. If you receive connection by moving towards the touch, you open possibilities to feel more in sync with your partner. If you receive touch with rigidity or fear, then you will dissolve connection.
5. Leading People to their Own Way of Connecting
Everyone’s perfect connection is a little different. It is more constructive to develop your own ‘toolkit’ for connection than to try to use someone else’s. The same way that some people’s natural gift is humor, others are great at deep, intellectual conversation. But, if the intellectual tries to be the class clown, it can come across as awkward. The same thing happens with connection.
Asking dancers questions to deconstruct what works and having them try to find their own ways of accomplishing the same end is a good way to enhance their ability to connect and find what works for their body and partners – as long as it is combined with feedback.
In the End
It is entirely possible to learn how to connect – even if it is a super, duper unnatural thing for you. But, you need to want it, and you need to surround yourself with at least one person who is willing to go on the journey towards better connection with you. Connection is intensely interpersonal, which means that both partners need to be willing in order for someone to learn. Also, as a non-visual, non-technical arena, verbal communication is necessary to understand and learn proper behaviors for connection.
It is OK to go through awkwardness – or even unintentional creepiness – on the journey towards connection… but always ensure you have a willing and understanding group or partner (or teacher). Prepare yourself to be open to feedback and verbal communication, and make sure that you learn to divide the critique of your connection from who you are as a person.
No matter who you are, you CAN learn to be a great soft-skills dancer. You CAN learn how to give the ‘wow, that feels soooo good’ feeling to your partners. It may be a longer journey thank you would like, but it is not beyond your ability.
Another great article. My most memorable dances are the ones where I shared the same level of soft skills and connection with my partner.
Loved the information, after teaching for almost 40 years I have found (in the last 20 years) that teaching connection first creates sound foundations to grow better dancers. The problem is, people want patterns first and so, I find that the students with goals to be better and who don’t insist on patterns first are my favorite students!
Oh my goodness – you nailed ‘teaching a soft skill’ and it applies to so much more than just dancing. Thank you.
I dare say connection is the true addiction in dance. It’s possible to dance a good dance with intricate steps or with perfect musicality; but without getting to know your partner, without sharing an actual moment with your partner, feeling something in your partner’s arms, is to miss something truly beautiful.
“Connection is the ability to connect with a partner and transform two people into one body. Connection is that moment when you can close your eyes and have an intimate conversation without words. Connection is that ember that turns even the most ordinary dance into a warmth that burns inside the embrace. The pursuit of ultimate connection is to drop certain vocabulary, it is to hear the music deeply and not even need to express it.”
“There are going to be some awkward moments in learning to connect. To correct these, feedback is always required. Feedback can be “I feel like your hips are pushing into me too much” or “I feel like you’re holding me too tight”. It can also be “Keep your elbows up, I don’t feel frame” or “I need you to hold me more.”
I feel connection would not be considered a soft skill, and would never be considered creepy if our community would adapt the practice of introducing it on day one. I don’t mean that’s all that should be taught: rhythm, basic steps, have to be conveyed in the same session. However, introducing these three principles as essential to the basics of the dance:
1. the idea that dance is different from walking only in that balance will be called on more than in walking, ie: even at rest, one must strive to keep weight on only one leg at a time,
2. how to use one’s core to support one’s weight on one leg, and
3. how to use one’s lats makes for relaxed, responsive arm movement,
can be taught whether the student is touching a partner or not.
Some very wonderful, prominant, internationally known teachers in the scene hold special workshops in order to demystify connection this way for “advanced dancers.”
However, I teach these skills to middle school kids who have never danced and are very nervous about touching, and high school kids who hang all over each other alike, in my programs from day one. I explain they will hear this in every class for the rest of their dancing lives, that they don’t have to master it today, but that they can learn how to practice these things as they learn their moves, and doing so will make them feel better to their partners, and give them freedom and ease on the social floor.
They don’t understand the relationship to connection immediately, but by planting the seeds, they know what to strive for when they are called on to “connect.” Spending time on one foot each day, doing push-ups against the wall, de-mystifies what connection is going to feel like, and these simple physical tasks are something they do understand from the very start.
Making it clear to newbies that connection is an aquireable, technical skill they will get better and better at elimates the need for vaugue, soft, emotionally careful language, which is necessary if people have been told they are dancing for a year, when all they have been doing is going through their footwork.
All teaching takes care and attention, empathy, good observation and understanding where the student is in the process, but I find “Put all your weight on that leg and you’ll be easier to move” and “keep your arms attached to your back, and more them with your body instead of leaving them behind, and your follow will be compelled to move “, “pay attention to where you are asking her to step” and “commit to that direction,” “when you split weight between to legs you can’t communicate direction to your follow,” and “splitting your weight on both legs makes you very, if not impossible to move” are not intimate, creepy, or difficult to understand directions, and lead to very strong connection very, very soon, long before advanced moves are on the menu. And then, advanced moves are much, much easier to teach.
Thank you for such a well thought out and written response! I understand what you are saying, but this article isn’t trying to comment on the technique of holding frame and giving clear leads.
What I’m getting at is the connection that an extremely excellent dancer can still miss: the connection that allows you to resonate with your partner beyond just the dance. This, in my opinion, is a soft skill and does require a comfortable acquaintance with vulnerability and openness.
“I understand what you are saying, but his articl eisn’t trying to comment on the techinque of holding frame and giving clear leads…”
I don’t think you do understand what I am saying, perhaps because I didn’t state it clearly.
I never once referred to “frame.” That’s one of those awful words invented to shortcut the concept of connection, and I find it particularly unhelpful. The word “frame” suggests there is some sort of Inflexible structure that has to be provided for your partner, which in my opinion is the opposite of connection.
And when I say “keeping your arms attached to your back” you may be hearing directions on giving clear leads, that’s not what I’m trying to say is important. Please forgive me if that’s the impression I’m making.
I would like to have communicated that, in my experience, connection is a primariy the kinesthetic skill of connecting both to one’s own core and balance (body awaremess), and understanding and observing the impact of your body and balance is on each unique partner’s body, and enjoying , celebrating and sharing what you discover your spontaneous 3-4 minute partership on the social floor can yield through the music provided.
You don’t appear to beleive this – you appear to think connection is something else, something intangible. That’s exactly what disagree with.
“Body awareness” is often treated as an intermediate to advanced skill, and because we don’t teach the physical vocabulary that is needed to achieve it, and leads are taught ‘moves,” that followers are supposed to “know”, it becomes harder and harder to teach sensitivity to partners as the core of the dance once they are told they are intermediate without ever being “body aware.” Beginners are taught that leads act, follows are acted upon. And because our adult learners are smart, and do what they are todl, they believe if they do that they are dancing. Then these excellent learners are put in a crisis when they have to learn to feel their way through what they are doing, and we, the instructors have to do damage control as part of our teaching of this inexplicably new process called “connection.”
So I believe teaching the kinesthetic skills of personal body awareness, balance, core and lat engagement, and an understanding of how one can or cannot move another human ought to be introduced from the very start. Our learners do exactly what we tell them to do. So if we don’t give them the vocabulary for connections with their basics, they arrive at the intermediate level unprepared for the amount of sensitivity and strength that will be required of them, and we much be social workers in the classroom, when we could have been teaching the body and partner awaremess basics along with their “moves” from the very start.
I agree with almost everything that you have said, and I think we’re mostly on the same page.
Where I think our disagreement lies is that I think that beyond body awareness and a kinesthetic understanding, there is something more. I’ve had GREAT leads in my classes, who have a fantastic sense of body and kinesthetic awareness and are some of the strongest dancers in the scene, but who didn’t have that ‘soft’ understanding of connection. Mechanically, they were fantastic. Their weight transfers, their arm-to-back connection, posture, and ability to understand how to move a person were impeccable… but they weren’t giving that ‘feeling’ to the follow. The dance was cold and a little too technical. That part, to me, is an intangible thing that needs to be discovered and cannot be taught as simply body awareness. If I took his ‘dancing’ away and left him in a position to just ‘hold’ the partner and sway, he couldn’t find his connection; things were too technical.
Conversely, I have had leads who just feel their partner right off the bat, but need to be trained to connect their arms to their back, to weight transfer properly, and how to enact a movement. If they are simply swaying and moving, it felt amazing and magical for both partners. Once movement was added, the feeling remained but the dance had big, technical gaps. This was a lead who needed basic vocabulary of movement, body awareness, and kinesthetics – but he had ‘connection’ in the intangible sense.
To me, this ‘connection’ principle (the principle of ‘feeling good’) is a soft skill. It is inviting someone to share a physical space with you, and opening a vulnerability in your body to receive the other person’s energy, and this is something that people need to be able to explore themselves to find it.
I’d be curious to know what your background is; I’m somewhat guessing it’s from the swing dance family. In swing dance in general, I’ve noticed that the tendency is towards a more ‘technical’ understanding of connection instead of ’emotional’ than in dances like tango, kizomba, and zouk. Without the closeness of hold and almost hug-like qualities it is easy to dance swing, and to create a ‘technical’ connection that feels athletic, strong, and useful for play… but I have to say that in most swing dancers, I do feel a void when it comes to an openness in their actual person-to-person connection beyond the technical how-to of creating the dance ‘connection’.
Please come up a detailed post about the three principles as essential to the basics of the dance, I believe this will benefit many readers aside from me!
The more I read about connection, the more I see that leaders tend to describe it physical terms, followers in emotional terms.
Absolutely! This bugs me quite a bit sometimes. Even in Latin dance, which is so connected and often sensual in the connection on top of that, I may talk about connection being the best part of a dance (and the reason Bachata and Blues are my favorites), and a lot of leads don’t seem to get it. Oddly enough, a lot of blues leads do seem to get the emotional version, despite the fact that most blues dancers I know have their background in Lindy Hop. Any thoughts on why that might be?
Yes, I think we are mostly on the same page, and to answer your questions:
I’m a theater director, and I’ve had this conversation in several forms: acting, singing, comedy improv and social dance. In all three, the word “technical” is often uttered with a touch of disdain…and I do tire of that, LOL!
The connotation is that if you work as well from out-to-in as in-to-out, you are a bit cold, and lack freedom of expression, soul, creativity, and spontaneity. Some of the best techinicians I’ve seen have little understanding of their technique, but they have it, and it doesn’t matter that it is unconscious. They are superb, because they are integrated performers – they can move their partners (and audience) in multiple ways.
A partner who has purely physical skills without all the other things needed to make a partner dance soar isn’t very good technician. Physical technique requires calibration through intelligence, the senses and the heart to be useful, but each of these approaches can be combed apart, put back together, combed apart and put back together for learning purposes. Once on the social floor, you gather what you’ve got and use it all.
Yes, I think we disagree about what styles of teaching/learning best serve students who struggle with conneciton. It’s my observation, too often, dance teachers assume social dance beginners are unable to grasp kinetic and visual styles of learning, and overuse aural, visual, and logical styles of teaching, when a modicum of kinetic and spatial instruction early in the process would mean more practical vocabulary is available to the teacher and learner to solve the increasing puzzles of connection as learning continues. More physical skills to call on would mean less crisis, less insecurity, etc…
This weekend I taught a room full of guests at a music soiree in a brownstone in Brooklyn, none of them Lindy hoppers, most of them not formal dancers (except for one couple who were tango dancers), how to sense connection to their partners in and out of close embrace with the natural weight of their limbs and simple one-leg balances during walking movements. In 30 minutes everyone was happily partnering in no particular style – just club dancing. Getting each other to walk, sway in sync, in pairs to the music. We switched around and danced to all kinds of music that way the rest of the night, and it was a blast.
And the music and chatter was loud in the very next room. I didn’t talk softly, and of course I was cheerful, directive, and encouraging. But no special enviroment was needed – the bodies were there, and they took instruction well. That’s all we needed.
That’s why am not convinced your contention that “soft skills” are best applied to the problem of connection. I think a bit more of, “this is a physical task, one that requires you call on you and your partner’s balance, and that you can happily spend a lifetime mastering, and this skill set might work for you. It’s not the only route to connection, but let’s try this…” can go a very, very long way towards getting comfortable connection going for the shy, resistant, baffled, etc.
And just to answer your question about styles: My first forms of dance were folk dance and popular dance from the mid 60’s through the 80’s. I skipped the 90’s, I was having kids.
I came from a house where dancing & singing together was what we did after dinner at every sort of social or family occasion. I learned folk dance from my mom & waltz, fox-trot, mambo and late swing from my Dad. I longed for formal dance training, but my parents couldn’t afford it. And I didn’t have the body type required for dance scholarships.
After leaving home as a young adult I danced socially in disco, soul, reggai and then pop rock, punk rock and world music clubs.
I dabble in tango, but don’t love the music. I love blues dancing, but most of it is too late at night for me, I am a parent.
My focus now is Lindy Hop. My husband and kids all do it. Both the dance and the music are the answer to my soul, LOL!
Thanks for the forum,
I’m also educated in theatre; acting was my first passion before moving into dance. In my university career, I mostly did technical directing. It’s fun to speak with people from similar backgrounds 🙂
I’m definitely a fan of technical education, and I certainly believe that technical and kinesthetic/visual instruction has its place in teaching connection – but I have been involved quite a bit in scenes where that was *too* much the focus, the connection with the actual ‘feeling’ of the dance was lost. This particular article was mainly directed in response to several people who approached me frustrated with trying to technically ‘get’ connection, and were afraid of going on the journey needed to integrate the technical ideas of weight transfer and connection with opening their space to a partner.
As you mentioned, all these parts must work in harmony… but the struggle I see most commonly is not the technical aspects of connection; it’s the feeling. Instead of feeling fluid and human, some people get wrapped up in doing it the ‘right way’ and end up feeling somewhat like an instruction booklet: nothing is wrong, but nothing is spectacular… and where I’ve noticed that this hiccup usually comes from is an inability to feel comfortable just being with other people in their space.
With beginners, I completely agree that the kinesthetic and technical approach is best to get a solid foundation. My target here was more at longer-term dancers (1+ year) who still feel like, despite technical training, they can’t ‘get’ connection and struggle – particularly in close hold. It was a lot easier for them to maintain ‘connection’ in open, distant movements, but coming in close to a partner and the vulnerability physically that this entailed was a source of mystery, despite having being told what physically to do.
I’m currently running a connection-focused class for more advanced dancers (the minimum amount of experience for any of the dancers is 1.5 years of regular training) that is focusing on the soft-skill integration with their current technical skills. The results for me in that class have been amazing to see as a teacher. Some of the students who found beginners frustrating have learned how to connect on their level and create magic because they’re open to exploring a mutual space with each other, rather than trying to execute movements from a technical perspective.
I think perhaps one of the challenges that I had with these particular people was that a technical approach was not solving their issues with closeness and sensing the partner in their prior dance training. That is why I suggest a special environment, and an OK to go into the awkward and uncomfortable with trusting partners. Arms length apart is easy for many people to sense when they’re transferring weight with their partner. I frequently use walking and weight transfer exercises in my classes in this way… but once the person is right there in your arms, I’ve found it simplest and easiest to get them comfortable first with just ‘being’ in another person’s space without fear or anxiety.
Perhaps this is also a difference stemming from the style of the dance. To me, having done to some degree almost every partner dance, the connection in Zouk is a far more vulnerable and elusive one. I think part of this stems from the entire body being connected (not physically) to the partner to allow for upper body movements, body rolls, contractions, etc.
And yes, Iain, I agree. I played high school basketball and tennis, and karate, and I’ve had good success communicating with leads about the sports they play in order to get a working connection vocabulary going.
Laura, it appears when you say, “Asking dancers questions to deconstruct what works and having them try to find their own ways of accomplishing the same end is a good way to enhance their ability to connect and find what works for their body and partners” could be where you apply this. Would like to know…
Women who trained in ballet, modern, contemporary, etc… are often at a loss to connect. If I find they have done contact improv, sparks fire, and they can find their way though that physical path.
It is possible to talk refer to hugs, embraces, caresses, but if someone is feeling awkward about close embrace on a dance floor, there is a likelyhood the student might have issues around hugs, embraces, intimacy, etc. and you never know when you’ll suddenly send them across the line (especially if they decided to try dance because they want to meet people, recent breakups, unspeakable issues at home…) And it certainly isn’t your job to help them learn how to hug.
Of course, some people protest they were always bad at sports, but that’s usually not as loaded a topic as that of physically relating to others off the dance floor.
Laura, I do believe you when you say you get good results thinking of connection as soft. However, I find the more I can communicate, “this is dance, you are a dancer with a very useful and helpful body, let’s use it to move because moving is fun and makes you feel expressive and masterful, you can do it, here, give this skill a try,”
rather than “communicate better” or “learn to dance the way you hug,”
the better results I get. I leave it up to the dancer to wrap any emotions around it that they choose to ultimately make it work for them.
Indeed, it is up to them to go to the point where they feel comfortable – and it isn’t our job to push them over the line. However, in Zouk, Kizomba, Tango, and other close hold dances, the hug and being comfortable in the space of another are intrinsic to making the dance work.
So, in these dances, yes it is the job of a teacher to help people be comfortable in close proximity with one another – which includes learning how to hold someone and not freak out. In swing, salsa, and some other forms of dance, I don’t believe this is needed – but it is a plus.
To be clear on that line, I don’t advocate taking this approach with beginners. In the first stages, I absolutely advocate the technical approach. It is important they simply get comfortable moving with a partner before diving into being close with a partner. Trust needs to build first, and every person has their own timeline for learning how to relax while being close to a partner. Hence, the need for a ‘safe space’ and trusted partners when someone who is uncomfortable with closeness is learning how to go there for the first time.
“Asking dancers questions to deconstruct what works and having them try to find their own ways of accomplishing the same end is a good way to enhance their ability to connect and find what works for their body and partners” is the way I term allowing people to discover what works for their body, and discovering their most natural way to dance.
Very often, I’ve seen students look to a teacher for the ‘right’ way of doing something, rather than looking at the ‘why’ something isn’t working. By helping a student ask questions about their own dancing and thinking about why it’s not working, and encouraging them to try to correct under guidance, they learn the skills to develop their own dance and to adjust their connection in any circumstances.
The following conversation is an example of where I’ve applied this (this particular one assumes that the follow is following what is being led):
“When I’m leading a chest isolation to the side, she’s changing her weight instead of isolating. Something’s wrong.”
“Ok. Well, if she’s changing her weight, what does that mean she is feeling from the lead?”
“Her whole body moving?”
“Ok. So, if she feels her whole body moving, what does that tell you about what your body is doing?”
“My whole body is moving?”
“That is a strong possibility. Try it again.”
In this example, the lead tries the movement again, but this time paying careful attention to the idea of only moving the ribcages and keeping his weight steady. Rather than me ‘tell’ him to keep his lower body completely still and only move the upper body in a side isolation, he is now working on assessing lead and response in relation to what he is physically doing – putting him more in touch with the partner’s reactions, and therefore connection.
The more I read about connection, the more confused I get. It’s either described as what sounds like a way of insuring clarity in the communication between lead and follow, or in terms so abstract as to be incomprehensible to me.