How do leaders learn hand positions?

Discussion in 'Just Dance' started by antigone, Oct 23, 2008.

  1. antigone

    antigone Pattern Police

    Most of the better leaders I get can usually find my hand, wherever it is. Though sometimes they fumble a bit, or grab it in the wrong position and have to adjust, which I think is perfectly understandable since both of us are improvising and there are a lot of other details to think about. But I've danced with a couple of guys who always get it, wherever it is, right on time, smoothly leading into the next move. So I'm wondering if this is a skill that can be learned or if it depends on one's innate body awareness.
  2. Ron Obvious

    Ron Obvious Shine Officer

    I've spun a lady around many a time. Eventually you learn where the hand comes out :)
  3. opm1s6

    opm1s6 Sabor Ambassador

    hand/eye coordination and a good technical teaching of how to position your hand into a move, because that will always result in your hands being in a certain position out of it. It's cause and effect, and while it's key, good instruction has done the job for me.
  4. chr

    chr Shine Officer

    Lately I had a really embarassing situation. I sometimes switch hands switch while turning my partner into a hammerlock. This works out well very easily, even with a beginner since she has very little time to take her hand (which she is not supposed to do anyways). About a month ago I danced with a really quick beginner and she used that fraction of second to get her hand out of the hammerlock. I did not give up so easily, so I tried to reach for her hand behind her back, but she was so fast that I ended up grabbing her buttock. With a regular partner it would not have been much of an issue so I was almost giggling and muttered a quick "sorry" but she is a quite young and inexperienced, so she stopped and looked at me as if I have been the Salsa Pervert personally, then left the floor without saying a word... :confused:
  5. antigone

    antigone Pattern Police

    lol...for the record, everyone, I've danced with chr, and I can assure you he is not a salsa pervert. I would have been more proactive and tracked her down to apologize explain what happened. But, really, it's not a big deal, don't beat yourself up about it.
  6. chr

    chr Shine Officer

    I apologized later and told her it was pure clumsiness. Still, I don't think I will ask her anytime soon. It is too hard to change a first impression, besides we did not have too much fun even before the incident...
  7. sweavo

    sweavo Maestro 'Guaguanco' Rodríguez

    To me it's all about the "grip" ... or lack of same. If you're fingers-to-fingers and you're using the hook, then it doesn't matter what position you're in because it's no effort to change to another one.
  8. chr

    chr Shine Officer

    Hmmm... IMO, hand hold and positioning are related, but different issues. BTW, I took privates with several very good instructors and they all had very clear but differing opinions on the correct hand hold.

    Anyways, hand positioning is one of the hardest thing for me in salsa dancing. I would say when I take private, at least half of the time is spent in correcting the paths I describe with my hands. Even a small change from the natural path can put the follower off-balance or just feel weird or inconvenient.

    The problem is that this is something that is really hard to practice alone without getting constant feedback. One of my instructors told that there is a dance academy in San Francisco where they have special (mechanic) equipment to train for the correct path, which does not allow anything but the correct movement and she took some courses there to improve her lead.

    Additionally, one thing that seems to be crucial is to rely on visual feedback. Often when I dance I tend to focus on the kinetic aspects at the expense of visual input. This is wrong: good leaders use all their senses to make their timing and movement as precise as possible. For example good spotting is helpful for getting visual information for the longest possible time which makes them better in keeping track of the partner. Sometimes looking at the partners feet is very helpful to time a turn or spin perfectly to match her movement. So I think, using visual information to the maximum extent is something the should be high on any leaders priority list.
  9. Mager

    Mager Changui

    Hmm, when I read the topic I believed that you meant, how to position our hands to correctly lead a move.

    But, if your are wondering how we find your hands I would say that I never grab a followers moving hand in the air.

    1) I often ask the follower for her hand by clearly and steadily offering my own hand, then let the follower take my hand at her own leisure. Here patience is important. If you don't get her hand in time to do one turn you just have to do something else. She'll never notice.

    2) If I personally want to take her hand I touch the followers arm and slide my hand to finally find her hand.

    3) I often switch hands in which case one of my hands are always touching hers. And I can follow my own hands find hers. It is all about touch and feel, not sight.

    And, you never grab, you touch, and when you have a connection you may solidify the hold.

    Hmm, and... fingertips...
  10. chr

    chr Shine Officer

    I am not sure... I can imagine that some women may feel a bit uncomfortable if they get such an extensive petting during the dance. E.g. my wife complained about some leaders who were sliding their hands on her arms or body a bit too often for her taste.
  11. Mager

    Mager Changui


    OK, my closing "fingertips" was not to be applied to 2.

    Closed position, cross-body lead into open hold.

    The leaders right hand has moved from the followers back to the followers left hand without loosing contact, if not hand to arm then arm to arm. Sliiide was perhaps not the best word, having connotations I did not mean to imply.
  12. vin

    vin Sonero

    Forgive my bluntness but it is not the leads' job to find the follows hand. It is the leads' job to position his hands in such a way that they are both (A) easy for the follow to find and (B) easy to transition into the next move.

    It is actually the follows' job to find the leads hand. It is the leads' job to make his hands easy to find.
  13. narcosis

    narcosis Sonero

    I second this notion.
  14. sweavo

    sweavo Maestro 'Guaguanco' Rodríguez

    Oops yeah, you're right. Antigone mentioned the fumble, which I associate with the problem of having hands a certain way around and running out of freedom of movement in, e.g. the wrist.

    I second (third?) the notion that the leader has to make a clear offer (i.e. do it in her line of sight!) and it's up to the follower to take it.

    With wraps and things, the follower should be able to feel the difference between a hand that is thrown away and a directed movement that ask for her to, e.g. wrap it, or a placement, where he is asking her to leave it where he put it. Both dancers can contribute; she by relaxed attention, and he by clarity of intention.
  15. la_gringa

    la_gringa Tumbao

    i third it.

    what happens with the handhold after it's been established, though, is taught; the mechanical techniques of hand position in leading are a big part of successful instruction for leaders.

    i would add that the feeling of confident, smooth, calm, clear and consistent connection through the hands is one of the very most important factors in how i feel about dancing with one leader over the other. it's incomparable.

    i do love a good slide, executed judiciously.
  16. AndrewD

    AndrewD Shine Officer

    I’ve recognised this as an issue with my leading especially when my partner is behind me – as has been mentioned the hand needs to be offered with a clear line of sight and in a way that makes it easy for the follower to take. The final aspect being how the hand hold affects the next move.
    Lots to think about and certainly one of the factors which separate the best from the rest – I still lose physical connection far too often for my liking, I think my steps are sometimes to big and my body position isn’t always correct.
    When it goes wrong it reminds me of a bad baton hand over in a relay race – you’re both trying to second guess each other and by the time you re-establish contact the moment is lost.

    Good teachers will tell you how to position your hand for each move, but I think a lot of it depends on the feel of the leader and how much emphasis he places on the follower’s comfort.
  17. chr

    chr Shine Officer

    I think it's both partner's job to find each other's hand. At least, it depends on the situation. Otherwise e.g. the move I mentioned above (switching hands while turning her into hammerlock) would not be possible.

    Another move I experienced with lately is switching hands while both me and my partner turn into a hammerlock, so for a split second we end up both in hammerlock holding on to each other's hammerlocked hand. First time I tried this, it seemed to be an impossible idea, but I continued to experiment with this at the Toronto Salsa Congress and could reach a success rate of around 20-30% with good follows.

    For other type of checks e.g. Titanic lead with one hand, grabbing followers right hand when she is backing him. It is clearly the lead's task to find her hand as she faces away. The same goes for illusion turns with hand switches.

    So, IMO, one can't really say the finding each other's hand is just one party's responsibility. It is like connection: you can't have it until both partners cooperate.

    Of course follows have a lot of important responsibilities: e.g. not allowing hands or arms to be trapped during wraps. Keeping the hand in hammerlocked position even if he lets loose, putting her hand on top of his shoulder whenever appropriate. This is especially important in Cuban style dancing, but even experienced followers tend to forget about it sometimes.
  18. vin

    vin Sonero

    Ok, Ok, Hammerlock is an exception. In that case it is the woman's responsibility to hold her hand behind her back until it is clear not to. I once had a follow tell me that she will keep her hand there until I do something with it. She told me that again a few months later, I told her "I know" sometimes I let the follow dance like that just to see how long she will do it.

    As for leads when the follow is behind me, if hand connection is lost it is still important to know where the follow is in relation to you. Your placement of your hands has very little to do with where you are in relation to your hand and very much to do with where your hand is in relation to her.
  19. antigone

    antigone Pattern Police

    So my main conclusion so far is that it is my responsibility to grab the leader's hand and not the other way around (you all seem to be unanimous on that, at least). I usually just keep it where he left it and wait for his to take it back, maintain body contact with it so he knows where it is (if leader is spinning, for example), or offer it where he can clearly see it. Maybe you guys are right and I should be more proactive - I'll try that out tomorrow night :)
  20. opm1s6

    opm1s6 Sabor Ambassador

    it depends on the move, you don't want to just grab our fingers whenever you please. The lead will ask and you respond. The requirement from the follow is to understand when she's being asked to bridge the gap with her hand and when to stay in place (for us to spin and then pick her hand up again as an example).

    Antigone, I doubt any of this is new to you.

    What it seems like is that you're second guessing whether you're doing something to make it harder for the guy to grab your hand on time. That's possible, but since I've never danced with you, and I doubt it.

    The only thing I know about following and hand positioning is that at times, and in certain moves, the guy needs to pivot his fingers inside the follows hand, the follow needs to give just a little risistance so that the pivot can work properly and the hands come out of the move in the same place they started, allowing him to do what he needs to next. The one that comes to mind, a two handed right turn for her and then a left turn for him. It is common in the 567 when he does a left turn, that to get your hands to come out in the proper position, a little resistance downward on her left, is just enough so that he can pivot and still be completely attached, and thus come out of the move where he started. That is a base for plenty of moves and is only an example, and actually I just thought of another one. Really any time he needs to spin or turn left, he'll do it with his left hand up and the tension needs to be there for him to come out of it expecting that his hand can pick her up where he left off.

    I find that in a lot of intermediate follows, the issues they have are knowing when to give enough grip and how much grip they should have in moves. I have more complex moves that I can't pull off with some intermediates, because they simply don't keep the connection well enough, when I'm rotating with one finger within their hands to move into a new position, or to change direction. The balance between making enough grip and not too much is of course a skill that requires time and most importantly the cognizance that they aren't doing it properly.

    I doubt you have these issues, but I might as well put down what I know in a post for someone else to read.

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