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Round Dance Tips by Tim Eum—

The Neck is Part of Posture

The most beautiful dancers have great posture. Most descriptions of posture and frame include how the hands join, how the arms are held, how the bodies are offset, space at chest, closeness at hips, and how the heads are turned – but one thing rarely mentioned is the angle of the neck.

Have you ever noticed that even if a couple correctly does all “points of contact” to create a frame, that often something still does not look quite right? The lead hands are joined correctly and are at the right height. The man’s right hand is in the correct place under the lady’s arm and on the lady’s left shoulder blade with fingers joined and angled downwards. The lady’s left hand is on the man’s upper left arm. All elbows are at equal height from the floor and the same distance from the dancer’s bodies and both arms angle downwards at the same angle from the body. The dancers may also optionally dance with the lady’s left hip area in contact with the front of the man’s right hip area. The dancer’s shoulders may even correctly be parallel to each other and there is space between the dancer’s chests, and the lady’s head is properly turned to her left and the man’s head turned slightly to his left to look over the lady’s right shoulder. But – what about the neck?

Even if the dancers do all of the above, there is one bad thing I often see – the dancers necks are angled forward! The back of the neck should be in line and at the same angle as the dancers backs. Having a forward-angled neck destroys the nice appearance that a straight neck gives. Consider that if the dancers are close at the waist and expand at the chest, that the heads should follow that same line and angle away from partner. Too often, you see dancers do all else correctly with frame and posture, but instead of angling their heads away from partner, they hold their heads vertical to the floor or worse their neck angles in toward partner.

Some teachers sometimes correctly remind dancers to dance as if you have a string at the top of your head and then hold the back of the head, neck, and back of body in line with the string. Military personnel will remember when drill sergeants commanded them to tuck their “chins in” while at attention – which straightened their necks and raised their heads when combined with “chests out” and “stomachs in”. I like to tell dancers to take a deep breath, which usually raises their head and expands their chest into good posture.

Beginners get in a bad habit when they look at their feet. To do so, they look down, which among others things angles their neck forward. Some dancers get so used to this that even when they are told to lift their heads, all they do is rotate their chin up, leaving the neck angled forward.

Try standing with your back to a wall. Can you do so with the back of your head touching the wall as well? Take a look in a mirror and you will see whether your neck angles forward from your body (and perhaps your shoulders are incorrectly rolled forward as well) even when you think you are in good frame and posture. You can only fix this if you know it is happening and then correct it often enough that it begins to feel comfortable when straight. You should practice so often that the neck becomes aligned correctly when you dance even when you are not thinking about it. It is worth the practice. If you can dance with a straight neck you will accentuate a good frame and have much better posture and dance more beautifully.

 
Tim Eum has prepared many Round Dance Tips for Calls 'n' Cues, WASCA, for his weekly Rocket Rounds email reports, and for other publications. DRDC is grateful for permission to collect and reprint. A Tim Eum archive.

 

dingbat



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