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Leading and Following in Open Positions
Hand Connections
The Basic One-Hand Connection

To illustrate the basic technique, we will use a very simple one-hand connection, where the man holds the lady's right hand in his left, at approximately waist level. Once learned, this technique can be applied to almost any other hand-to-hand connection.

The elbow should be held low, slightly in front of and outward from the hip. The forearm should extend straight forward from the elbow, roughly parallel to the floor. Leader's palm should be turned upward; follower's palm turned downward. The connection is sturdy but not heavy, without any squeezing or gripping of the partner's hand.

There are many reasons why we use this specific positioning of the arms and hands. Most importantly:

1. The point directly between each partner's center of balance is the point of maximum leverage. Placing the hand connection in this area improves the partners' sensitivity to each others' movement.

2. At waist level (or slightly above), the forearm is roughly parallel to the floor. Both forearms are aimed directly into one another, so that the pressure moves straight down the middle of the connection, without deflecting out to an angle.

Let's take a closer look:

STRONG: Pressure directed toward or away the middle of the connection.

WEAK. Pressure deflected off to an angle.

Hand Positioning

In the basic one-hand connection, the man's hand is extended with the palm turned upward, while the lady's hand extends with the palm turned downward. Both hands should be very lightly cupped, with the fingers held together (not spread apart).

  • Don't grab or squeeze your partner's hand. Not only are your fingers very poor transmitters of lead and follow signals, they're actually distractions. The more you squeeze, the more you muddy up the connection, and the more difficult it is to communicate with your partner. Besides, it hurts!
  • For similar reasons, don't press down on your partner's hand with your thumb.
  • Don't spread the fingers apart, or stick them out in various directions. The thumb can be held loosely apart from the fingers, but the fingers themselves should stick together, as though you were wearing mittens.
  • Keep the hand loosely cupped. This creates just enough friction to hold the connection together when tension is applied through push or pull, without the need for a grasp. Don't allow your hand to flatten-out completely, as it may cause you to slip and lose the connection with your partner.
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