Demystified Part 2
By Joe Donato,
In the first “Floorcraft Demystified” article, I helped introduce the concept of floorcraft to the leader. Hopefully you’ve started exploring this new territory with some excitement. If you’re one of the lucky one’s developing this skill on a private lesson, you may not be so quick to rush out into this brave new world. You have the luxury of an empty dance floor in a private lesson, but there will be “traffic” in the real world. On a public dance floor, you can be smooth sailing across the floor, when without warning, an unexpected road block appears. Maybe the couple in front of you has suddenly stopped. Maybe you discover you had less space than you thought. It’s not as simple as repeating the sequence you learned. You’ll have to make quick decisions on the fly, in an instant’s notice. How do you do this?
Well, you need an emergency backup plan. You need a “default” emergency step; a step that doesn’t require a lot of space, and that you know you can lead strong. For me, for Foxtrot I recommend the left turn (Man; Forward on left foot, back on right foot, side step to left while rotating.) So leaders, repeat after me “When in doubt; Magic Left turn”. As soon as an obstacle rears its ugly head, go into the “magic left turn” holding pattern. If you already have the Left turn burned into your muscle memory, than it is a no-brainer.
If you’re not dancing the Foxtrot, no worries. You can find a “default step” in whatever your favorite dance is.
In Waltz: I just do the basic box (Forward, side together, back side together) whenever I’m confused.
For Tango: It’s a series of tango-close steps (forward, side together, rest) while turning left. That gives me time to think about where I’m going next.
You may not think you need one in the Rhythm dances, (as every step is basically a repetition of the default step), but what you will need in the Rhythm dances is a “recovery plan”. When I hit a spot where suddenly, as the leader, I’m confused, I default to my “holding pattern” steps. These are the steps that I first learned that are the default steps for that dance, with a little rotation added. I already know how to do them confidently, with little mental effort, so I can go right into them nice and smooth. My partner is not even aware that anything went awry. As far as she can tell it was all part of the plan. She thinks that because that’s exactly how it felt to her.
And while you are in your “holding pattern”, this is your time to relax mentally, observe your surroundings, consider your options, and plan your next move. Have you’ve ever driven through New Jersey and gotten confused at one of those circles? Similar concept: Just keep circling, until you have a chance to think about where you want to go. Then, once you’ve figured it out, just keep driving with the traffic until the correct exit comes back around. The more and more you practice this, more and more your brain is “freed up” to start discovering new amalgamations.
Yes that’s right, I said “discovering”. Learning to dance should be an adventure in constant discovery, as opposed to constant recovery. If the only thing you’re discovering in your dance lessons is “wow, look how bad I am at this”, then I suggest you’re being too hard on yourself. Take a private lesson with me, and give me the chance to get your brain on the right path of discovery once again. For more about this “recovery” thing, check out my article: “Recovery”, coming soon.