Hello, Westies! We created the Dance Definitions series to be a database of basic West Coast Swing terms and concepts, in the hopes that this will become a helpful resource for our dance community. Each week some amazing pros will be bringing us a definition and short explanation of the week’s term. This week we have the fabulous Courtney Adair (US) and Catriona Wiles of the UK defining “Compression.” What a treat!

Courtney Adair

Compression is a dynamic of connection used in preparation for redirection when dancers are coming closer together. A sugar push is a great example of a pattern that utilizes compression. In its basic form, a leader should provide a pliable frame for the follower to push against so they can redirect their follower’s foot fall. Leaders aim to catch their follower’s frame on 2, followers keeping a constant length of arm will result in pressure into the leader’s hands during 3 &, which allows leaders to send the follower’s momentum back down the slot on 4. Compression can be looked at as the opposite of leverage and as such dancers should aim for tone not stiffness.

Catriona Wiles

Compression – Two forces moving in opposition toward each other! In West Coast Swing terms, compression usually occurs in patterns where the leader initiates the followers’ movement or momentum down the slot/track then blocks the pathway, causing the follower to redirect back to roughly where they started. Compression should be spongey and allow for absorption of the followers’ forward energy rather than be jolty and hard. Followers should maintain tone in the frame as they travel down the slot, the position resembling that held when pushing a shopping trolley or holding on to the handle bars of a bicycle. The leaders should make connection with their frame also in front of them, then ease the follower into compression by creating a bowing action. The bowing action is achieved by the leaders’ arms easing backwards whilst maintaining contact which creates space for the follower to “lean” in, and the body moving forward to counterbalance the weight.


Did you notice they both couldn’t talk about compression without discussing frame? Interesting! To follow up with the pros for more info, see their profiles below.

You can also check out last week’s post defining “Posting” in West Coast Swing with Clint Glasgow and Sonny Watson >here<.


Courtney Adair (USA)

Courtney Adair has been enjoying West Coast Swing for 16 years and teaching, traveling and training for the last seven. Known for her infectious smile and love for social dancing, she has quickly become one of the community’s top professionals. When Courtney isn’t dancing all over the world with her partner in crime, Sean McKeever, she enjoys pilates and cooking elaborate dinners. www.seanandcourtneywcs.com

Catriona Wiles (UK)

Catriona Wiles has studied dance all her life. She began with Ballet aged 3 and moved on to train extensively in a range of partner dances including Country, Salsa, Ballroom, Latin, Modern Jive and Argentine Tango.Catriona’s “highlight” year was 2006 where she partnered not one but three top leaders (Paul Warden, Lee Easton & Amir Giles) in three dance styles (WCS, Country & Argentine Tango) all in the same year, training and traveling to compete, teach and perform all over the world including the UK, Europe, USA & Australia.Over the last decade, Catriona has taken the UK social dance scene by storm and is now successfully running multiple weekly classes, courses, monthly workshops, freestyles, ICE socials, private lessons and special events in and around London and the UK under the umbrella of West Coast Swing UK, and appearing at dance events globally. Her workshops thoroughly cover all the basics needed to get people onto the social floor, along with dynamic patterns and emphasis on creative style and flair!

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