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Leading and Following in Open Positions

Successful leading and following comes from effective communication, which is dependent upon a good connection, no matter what the dance position. When in open position, the hand connection is the only means by which a signal can be transferred from leader to follower, and so this connection must be constantly maintained in a position which facilitates the transfer of signals.

With a one- or two-hand connection, the elbows should be held slightly in front of and outward from the hips, with the forearms extending straight forward from the elbows, parallel to the floor. The arms should be able to withstand push and pull pressure in order to maintain their position, so that they do not extend too far away from the body or collapse inward towards the body. The hands should be loosely cupped, without any squeezing or gripping of the partner's hands.

There are two types of weight connection: Push, and pull. These terms do not describe actions of the arms and hands, but rather the sensation felt when the body weight is directed towards or away from a connection. Push and pull connections should be almost invisible to the onlooker, with no change in posture or arm positioning.

In order to lead directional movement, a weight connection must first be established. Once the weight connection has been established, the leader can lead the follower simply through the movement of his own body. No additional pushing or pulling or the arms is necessary. In general, backwards steps are led with a push connection, forward steps are led with a pull connection, and side steps are led with either push or pull.

Oppositional movement requires an additional push or pull impulse through the arms and hands, but this impulse should be subtle and invisible, and should not take place without first establishing a weight connection. One should always think of pushing themselves away from the connection, not the connection away from themselves.

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