Sharing The Joy Of Dancing

CHARACTERISTICS OF STYLE


I am defining "style" as the set of characteristics that define a dance. The combination of these various characteristics determines the "style" of the dance. In standardized Ballroom Dancing these characteristics have been defined and documented. The characteristics define the perfect "style" of the dance.

For example: "Rise and fall" is one characteristic of American StyleWaltz. Other characteristics would be "timing", 1, 2, 3 - 3/4 time; "body shape", allowing the legs to pass; and stopping with "split weight" on rise on 3 then lowering and switching weight on 3&.

The foot pattern is just the beginning foundation of a dance. It is what happens between the steps that determine the "style" of the dance. The geometry of the pattern is very important to allow other patterns to be linked together. The footwork (rise/fall, inside edge, etc.), timing (slows/quicks/syncopations), partnership (closed/promenade/outside partner, etc), rotating movements (pivots/turns/, etc.) are all very important characteristics that create the "style" of the dance.

I can't emphasize enough the importance of the characteristics. Most dancers keep wanting to learn more patterns when they can't dance the characteristics of the patterns they already know. The characteristics are the hardest to learn and get into body muscle memory. When you take private lessons from dance masters, you don't work on patterns, you work on the characteristics of the patterns. Once you start getting the characteristics in a pattern, learning new patterns will almost always have the characteristics automatically included. Each pattern has a specific feeling based on it's characteristics. Once you learn the pattern and it's characteristics you will start dancing it by it's feeling (which will include the characteristics).

A lot of men learn pattern after pattern but never learn the characteristics. When they dance they are consumed trying to remember patterns instead of dancing the feelings of the patterns. They are what I call pattern dancers (lots of patterns but no feeling in their dancing). Unfortunately there are a lot of dancers that don't know that characteristics exist. They are the ones that miss out on the true feeling of dance.

Most ladies would rather dance a few patterns over and over again if they have feeling rather than dance a lot of robotic patterns.

The best advice I can give you is to learn 4 or 5 patterns in each dance then really work on the characteristics until you can dance them by feeling then start adding more patterns.