I wrote an article last month (07/13) titled: "Allow the Body to Be Alive and Free". This is sort of a companion to that article. The general idea is to allow the natural forces of Mother Nature to influence your movements. I am talking about gravity, power, momentum, stretch, centrifugal force, etc. Use the natural actions of the body and of the singularity for your dance movements. The following paragraphs provide some examples of using Mother Nature.
The defining character of the dance Ballroom Two Step is the lilting action (slight rising and falling). The lilting action is caused by simply being on the ball of the foot on the second step (all second steps). In the "Side Basic" pattern, the second step in each element crosses behind. The body is moving sideways and as the weight of the body moves on to the second step there is a slight rise because it is a "ball only" step. The "ball only" creates a longer leg on the second step. As the body moves on top of the longer leg it is lifted up naturally. If you wait, there will be a natural falling action when gravity catches up. The side momentum powers the lift (rise) and gravity brings the body back (fall) on the third step.
Silver Waltz has a feeling of "power and glide". The power is applied on the first step and is just maintained on the second and third step. Because of the rise on the second step, the third step doesn't feel like a step. It feels more like a slightly controlled fall. The length of the third step is a function of the body movement not taking a specific step, the leg just falls under the body (it isn't placed). The purpose of the third step is to get off of rise and prepare to make a new power step on "one".
The "Ronda" is a dance element that is used in many dances. Let's just consider it in Silver Waltz at this time. "Ronda" is defined as a ring or a circle. In this case we are talking about the action of a leg movement (circular). The size of the "Ronda" (the free leg circle) is determined by the supporting leg. The rule for the "Ronda" leg is to keep it straight and as close to the supporting leg as possible. The size of the circular leg movement is determined by the height of the supporting leg. If the supporting leg is on rise, the "Ronda" will be very small and tight, basically wrapping around the supporting leg. The "Whisk" dance element is a "Ronda" of this type. If the supporting leg is bent, the "Ronda" will have a larger circular diameter because the lowered supporting leg forces the straight free leg into a bigger circle. The lower the supporting leg is, the larger the size of the "Ronda". The Silver Waltz "Drop Ronda" element is a "Ronda" of this type. The "Ronda" is generally created by rotational momentum but can be lead directly.
All Ballroom dances have powered turns of one type or another (syncopated underarm turns, spiral turns, inside turns, outside turns, etc.). The leader provides the power which in turn creates the rotational momentum of the turn. The power starts the turn and the momentum created finishes the turn. It is a common problem for the leader to power the whole turn. This results in it being overturned and causing balance and direction problems.
Viennese Waltz is another example of allowing Mother Nature to complete your movements. On the third step of the "left turn" moving forward, the leg crosses in front. This is called a "Viennese Cross". The rotation for Viennese Waltz is created by foot placement and the rotation of the muscles in your legs (no foot swivels). Stand with your legs slightly apart (about a foot). Now, how many ways are there to cross your left leg in front of your right leg? The normal answer is "one". Lift up your left foot and place it in front of the right leg. This, unfortunately, is how most dancers perform a Viennese Cross. There is another better way. Standing with your feet apart, simply rotate counter clockwise (to the Left) on your right supporting foot without lifting your feet off of the floor. Magically you have a Viennese Cross. Since we are rotating to the left anyway, doesn't it make sense to rotate in the same direction through the supporting leg?
The movements stated above are just a few of the natural actions that can be utilized in Ballroom dancing. The use of these natural actions will allow for more fluid, controlled and singular movements. The use of Mother Nature will change your Ballroom Dancing dramatically.