Wednesday, March 16, 2005
Thoughts on Connection: Part II
More than a few of the lessons we've had recently have been centered around improving connection and the "feel" of Lindy.
Hmm ...although I suppose now that I think about it just about any lesson anyone teaches probably relates to improving connection.
Sheri and I use a lot of different analogies regarding how the connection should "feel" (not just relevant to Lindy but also Bal and other swing dances as well). A popular analogy we use is a "water balloon" toss or "egg" toss (see related article: Thoughts on Connection: Part I).
I think of it in a different way ... which is as you might have guessed a bit more on the geeky side. I don't use the analogy often as the few times I have I get glossy-eyed looks from students. But hey, that's why I have this forum for myself .
(On a side note: I thought there were a lot of geeks in the swing dancing scene. Are we now a dying breed?)
(On another side note: This is one of my FAVORITE websites: THINK GEEK ... Yeah baby )
Think of it as conservation of energy (E) in a system. We won't adhere to all the strict principles of conservation of energy but we'll definitely use a lot of the ideas contained herein. The analogy I'll use the most here is a swinging pendulum and how the energy changes throughout the pendulum's swing from side to side.
(On another side note: If you just want the meat of this article, here it is: mirror your Lindy basic after a swinging pendulum. Read on below for all the nitty gritty details)
(On another side note: I guess if I just used the analogy of pendulums instead of going into the entire conservation of Energy explanation, I probably wouldn't get the glossy eyed look all the time ... Hmmm... )
(On another side note: You can now buy the "Pendulum Lindy" instructional video clip! Preview on Youtube and Purchase at iDance)
Moving on ..
First, in a system of energy, there are two types of energy:
Kinetic Energy and Potential Energy. At all times, the total energy of the system equals the sum of these two energies. As one increases, the other will decrease.
ETOT = EK + EP
Kinetic Energy is directly related to mass (m) and velocity (v) (we'll just say "speed"). (Thus I used the color green .. as in green light as in "Start driving already ..." ).
EK = 1/2mv2
Potential Energy is the amount of energy stored in an object (thus the word "Potential"). Nothing is moving, but energy is built up. As an example: when you are holding stretched a rubber band, nothing is moving, but a lot of energy is contained there (which can get you in trouble in elementary school once that Potential Energy is translated to Kinetic Energy. Anyhow, holding a stretched rubber band: you are giving it Potential Energy.
As another example guys with big boofy muscles have massive amounts of Potential Energy. (See Figure 1)
As an FYI: the most common formula for calculating Potential Energy is with a falling object. The Potential Energy is the weight of the object multiplied by the height of the object. For example if you are holding a ball ten feet over the ground, you are giving the ball Potential Energy which is its weight times its height.
Anyway, that's why I chose the color red for this ..as in "stop" as in "no motion is happening" ... the max is when the object is stopped and not moving ... you can almost think of it as the opposite of Kinetic Energy (well, since it kind of is... as one increases, the other decreases).
So how does that relate to the Lindy Hop basic?
Glad you asked!
The simple version: think about when the Lindy Hop basic as at a "stop", and think about when it is at its "fastest"
The more explained version:
The Lindy Hop basic is fundamentally an oscillating systems. Let's return to our pendulum. As it swings right to left and back to the right again, you'll see the EP reach its max right at the end of the swing as this is where it stops moving (velocity is zero). The pendulum reaches its max EK at the bottom of the swing (where the velocity is at its fastest). (See Figure 2)
Okay it will require getting a lot more visual now as I walk through the pendulum physics as we count out the Lindy basic.
Let's now take the Lindy basic using the follow as an example and think of her as a swinging pendulum. We'll start on count eight of the previous basic, transitioning into the next basic.
At count eight, the follow is NOT moving. She's at the end of the basic. Her speed is thus zero. Thus the EK is ZERO. Thus the all the energy is in the form of EP (which you should feel as your muscles in your chest and upper back flex). The lead then leads her in on the next count and the EP changes into EK.
At counts two and three from the transfer of Potential Energy into Kinetic Energy she'll really be booking it in. Her speed will pick up until it is at the maximum speed for the basic. Thus is where her EK is at its max and her EP is at its min. This is analogous to the bottom swing of the pendulum.
At count three-ish and four, the follow is slowed down and stopped (think of the end of the pendulum swing). Thus she has zeroed out her EK and maximized her EP (meaning this is where the maximum resistance is felt in the muscles). The lead at this point should feel a HUGE amount of EP contained within the muscles of his body. (See Figure 3)
At count five is when the lead leads her back out again, transforming the EP to EK.
At counts six and seven are when she's booking it back the other way and so her speed is again at its maximum (thus again EK is at its max and EP is at its min).
Count seven she starts to slow down and at the end of count eight her speed reaches ZERO again.
With that in mind, the FIVE most important things to take away from this article are:1. That I bear a strong resemblance to Mark Wahlberg.
(See Figure 4)
2. The "connection" feel and extension on seven-eight-one and three-four-five.
Imagine you are looking at a pendulum from above so you could not see that it is swinging in an arc. You'll only see it moving from side to side. Note how the pendulum only stops for an instant before swinging the other way. Similar in the Lindy basic, the extension should be all the way out until you feel a rebound (that's the EP talking there) which will bring the follow back in again.
A common thing with beginning/intermediate Lindy is that the leads and follows will stop during their triple steps (go a fixed distance in their Lindy basic) before moving to the next count. That's definitely fine for learning the steps, but to get the "feel" of Lindy and become more advanced, the lead and follow should really continue to extend on those counts until they feel that EP kick in which will cause the spring into the next count. Just like a swinging pendulum extends as far as it can go and then comes back in.
3. The "mirroring" of seven-eight-one and three-four-five
A swinging pendulum looks the same whether it is swinging to the left or to the right. So in your Lindy basic follow that ... the connection/extension should be the same feel whether you are in open position (seven-eight-one) or closed position (three-four-five). It feels the same because in both instances you are extending out until the EP is maximized.
4. Faster swingouts require higher Potential Energy
Assuming you want to keep the "feel" of Lindy at faster tempos, if you want a faster swingout (meaning faster velocity on counts two-three and six-seven), that requires a faster velocity and that means a higher amount of Kinetic Energy. Going back to our conservation of Energy, this means that you will also need a higher amount of Potential Energy to translate into Kinetic Energy. This means HUGE amounts of muscle work to handle all that Potential Energy. This also means the follow should not automatically run in on her own (I guess that's with any Lindy, not just fast Lindy). The follow needs to be given a very strong lead (read high Potential Energy) to result in a high velocity swingout and thus we have Fast Lindy while maintaining the feel and connection.
5. Counts one and five are indeed very important
I mentioned in my "Working On the Lindy Basic (Leads)" article that the most important counts for leading the basic are on counts one and five. Now you can see why. At counts eight and four the EP is at its max. The following counts (one and five) are then where the lead will transfer that EP into EK. So that's why counts one and five are really where the "leading" of the basic really kicks in.
Here is a clip of us social dancing in Raleigh. Though we were both feeling under the weather and not too particularly creative, I was pleased to see that for most of the clip we looked very clean in our technique. You'll see a lot of good extension in the basic, but more interestingly you'll see some extension when we transition into Lindy basics from non-Lindy ... (kind of winding up the Potential Energy) which makes the leading in of the following basic much more comfortable and clean looking. If you are not sure exactly what to look for, one thing you can watch is our arms and how they extend right before I lead her in on a Lindy basic (or any other move for that matter when I'm leading her in to me).
HI 6.6 MB
I could definitely go on and on about this but I'll save it for another day ... again if you're interested in more, we have an online instructional video clip at iDance.net discussing "Pendulum Lindy". Go check out the site to hear us discuss on camera!
Anyhow, if you really would like the gist of it: watch something oscillate sometime (pendulum, clock, metronome, your favorite politician) and see how you can model your Lindy after that oscillation.
Your Comments And Questions: