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H. Leon Raper



Teaching Philosophy
Social Dances

taught by

H. Leon Raper

Table of Contents


The purpose here is not only to teach social dance, but to also to teach the science of dance. The techniques used will supply students with tools that are necessary for solving dance problems and give them a real understanding of the mechanics of the social dances.

Teaching Basics

I think many instructors have lost sight of what is important when teaching basics. They are too wraped up in teaching their own style of dancing instead of using methods that would be most beneficial to new students. New students need to learn the art and techniques of timing, movement, centering, frame and connection; and they need an instructor to use the appropriate basic techniques that will help them progress quickly.

Compensating Steps for Intermediate to Advanced Dancing

What are Compensating Steps?
Compensating Steps are changes that must be made to a normal step pattern to make it work when dance partners go from an Opposite Foot orientation to a Same Foot orientation.

QUESTION: Who should compensate -- leader or follower? ... ANSWER: The Leader
Why do I say "the leader should compensate?"  It is because the leader has longer to think about what they are going to do next.  The follower must read the leader's form of "instantanious dance braille" from which they must sense what to do next.

EXAMPLE: An Lindy Hop example is transitioning into Facing Charleston -- where many instructors would have the follower reverse their footwork.  I would change the step pattern such that the leader is the one to reverse their footwork.

EXAMPLE: Consider the transition between Opposite Foot and Same Foot step patterns.  This requires one dancer or the other do a compensating step to put themselves on the same foot as their partner.  Many instructors for Lindy Hop and Country/Western dancing adhere to philosophy of "let the follower compensate" -- which I consider a male chauvinist pig point of view

EXAMPLE: Keep the standard count and standard footwork together if at all possible.   A good Lindy Hop example is in executing a Crossover Charleston step pattern.  One instructor uses a less than optimum entry pattern which requires shifting the standard Back Charleston part of the step pattern by 4 beats.  This means that what you would normally do on beats 1 thru 4 is now being done on beats 5 thru 8 -- creating a step pattern from hell.  It didn't have to be done that way.  A more acceptable entry and exit pattern could have been used which preserves the standard count and footwork yielding a better looking step pattern and very simple to execute.

Please note that there are other forms of compensation done by very creative advanced dancers as they change, extend, and stylize step patterns.  That is not what we are referring to here.


I am sure there are many other acceptable paths to a common goal other than what I have defined here. I would also like to see lesson structures created by others that use the Universal Unit System (TM).

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