Sharing The Joy Of Dancing

HOW LOW CAN YOU GO?


One of the biggest problems of controlling movement and balance in Ballroom Dancing is maintaining the mass of the partnership. Conventional thinking places the center of gravity of a person somewhere around two inches below the belly button. Two-Headed Four-Legged (partnership) balance is best achieved by keeping the mass of the partnership as low to the floor as possible. So "How Low Can You Go"?

Let's look at an inflatable punching bag. It is usually about four feet tall and sits on the floor. No matter how hard you hit it, the bag always returns to its' upright and balanced position. It returns because there is a sand weight in the bottom of the bag as low to the floor as possible. If the bags' weight was placed somewhere above the floor level, the bag would not return to its full up right position after being hit. Let's apply this concept to Ballroom Dancers.

Imagine that the punching bag represents the torso of a dancer. If we add legs to the bottom of the bag, we have a complete dancer. This means that the mass of the dancer is well below the conventional center of gravity of a person. The mass of the dancer is where the legs come together in the pelvic area. But what about the concept of keeping the mass as low to the floor as possible? If we put the weight (sand) in one leg or the other, the dancer would lean to one side or the other. If we put the weight in both legs or in the feet, it would be OK until we tried to move, then we would have major balance and movement problems. The lowest we can realistically place the weight in a person is where the legs come together in the pelvic area.

Try this. Sit in a straight back chair (like a folding chair) and lean backwards against the back of the chair and relax. You will notice that your whole body is relaxed and you are sitting on your cheeks. Now roll forward over the "pelvic sit bones" ("The bony parts that you feel under you when you sit up straight on a firm surface.") and sit up straight. You will notice that your whole torso will be toned and erect and it even makes you want to lift your chin up. Do this several times, paying attention to how your body responds and feels. Now allow your pelvis to feel a little heavy (like the sand weight). Place your arms up in dance position and stand up maintaining that slight heavy feeling in your pelvis. Do this several times until you can maintain that slightly heavy and toned feeling while you are standing in dance position. This is what you want your body to feel like when you Ballroom Dance. I have also had problems with students in the past with their bodies being too relaxed or too stiff while they dance. This little exercise demonstrates how their body should feel.

The goal is to maintain this body tone and slight heaviness while you dance. Because the partnership is physically connected high up on the body through the frame, dancers tend to move through the frame instead of through the low mass of the partnership. Let the torso sit on top of that slight heaviness. Move the heaviness, turn the heaviness, rise and fall through the heaviness, power through the heaviness, etc. The rest of your torso will follow.

This doesn't work if you only try to turn it on when you dance. You have to make that toned and upright feeling part of your life, so it is there all of the time and you don't have to think about it. In your everyday life, walk with that slight heaviness and upright toned position. Put your seatback up a little in your car and sit in that upright toned position as you drive. You will feel more alert and in control. Let this become part of everything you do in your daily life. It can be life changing, particularly if you experience back problems. I have back problems from an auto accident many years ago. Driving for an extended amount of time was a real problem for me. That slightly heavy, upright and toned position resolved my back problem while driving over long distances.

Our goal in Ballroom Dancing is to move and act as "ONE" on the dance floor. It is that old familiar Two-Headed Four-Legged animal (entity). That "ONENESS" is achieved by combining the two dancers through the lower mass of the partnership. The partnerships' "ONENESS" allows us to experience the ultimate goal of Ballroom Dancing which is that unique "Four-Legged Feeling". It is that "Four-Legged Feeling" that can only be experienced with a partner.