Sharing The Joy Of Dancing

BALANCE


I get a lot of comments that " I have a balance problem, have vertigo" etc. With the training I have had, I have been able to solve all of my student's balance problems. It is always a matter of the physics and geometry of the movement of the partnership or individual. You must remember that the partnership is a four-legged animal. You must adjust the physics and geometry of your personal two-legged animal to a four-legged animal.

It is very hard to watch a movement or pattern (watching someone dancing or watching a video) and trying to imitate it. There is a lot of illusion in dancing. You need to understand what part of the body or partnership is causing the movement. For example: A turn can be executed by foot placement, foot swivel, or turning of the supporting leg between the ankle and the hip or a combination of some or all.

The individual or solo (two-legged animal) movement balance problems are usually caused by: head position, not being down in your center, trying to turn on a straight leg, trying to travel and turn at the same time, moving from the wrong part of your body, or not counter balancing various parts of your body.

Balance can be achieved by counter weight balancing. Hold both arms straight out from your body and they will counter balance each other. If you hold only one arm straight out and remain standing straight, the muscle system in your body is counter balancing the out-stretched arm. If you are rotating or turning, weight counter balancing is the most effective and controllable method.

Most partnership balance problems are caused by not taking into account the physics and geometry of the partnership (the four-legged animal). In partnership you MUST understand that each partner has a personal center of gravity and the partnership has it's own center of gravity. All partnership movements must be referenced to the partnership's center. In order to reference the partnership's center you must be able to feel it. This is where the frame is so critical. The frame must be as light as possible and yet strong enough to feel your partner and the partnership's center of gravity. The head position is always 180 degrees opposite of your partner. Not referencing the partnership's center, inconsistent frame, incorrect footwork (toes instead of heels etc.), lifting your feet off the floor and not using all four legs of the four-legged animal can cause partnership balance problems. If you take into account the physics and geometry of the partnership (counter balancing both halves of the four-legged animal) you can solve your partnership balance problems.

Balance can be greatly improved by keeping all feet (two or four) on the floor all of the time. A free foot will always have 2% of your weight on it. (See March 2001 article "Characteristics of American Style footwork"). There are patterns that require your feet to leave the floor but they very are few.

American Style Smooth dancing requires you to move between your common center and your personal center because of having both and partnership and solo movements. Consideration must be given to the different sizes of partners (tall, short, etc.) because this changes the location of the common center. Balance problems can also be caused by how you think. For example: If you think of spinning while dancing Viennese Waltz your body will respond a certain way, and if you think of doing two 180 degree turns your body will respond very differently.

Balance, whether solo or in partnership is NOT a fixed entity. It must be constantly adjusted based on the continual changing of the physics and geometry of solo movements and the partnership.