Is It Really Banjo, or CBM
by Wayne &
good dancing must have a good foundation of movement. But most of
all, dancing must start with a good frame; the partners must feel
connected and dance together. This is achieved by the partners
keeping their centers directed toward each other, even if they are
not in body contact. When centers move away from partners there is
tension, pushing, pulling, and the individuals will be off balance.
of the most basic and fundamental, and most MIS-UNDERSTOOD, concepts
in dancing is Contra (or Contrary) Body Movement (CBM) and Contra
Body Movement Position (CBMP). CBM has nothing to do with the placing
of the feet but is a result of a body action. CBMP is a position
caused by a foot placement.
we walk in everyday life, observe that as we take our left foot
forward the right arm goes with it and when the right foot goes
forward the left arm goes forward. Actually it is the momentum that
starts in the opposite side of the body that swings the arm
reciprocal or CONTRA to the body.
CONTRA BODY MOVEMENT (CBM) is the movement of the opposite side of
the body towards the moving foot. This happens when the upper body
rotates in the opposite direction from the lower body while moving
(not like a “stick man” – which happens to too many of us when
we try to think about CBM – the stick man has the wrong arm
EXERCISE: Stand with your weight on the right foot. Step out on your
left foot and at the same time twist your upper body to the left
(right shoulder forward). Next step back with your left foot and
twist your upper body to the right (right shoulder back). If it feels
like a wind up for a spin you’ve done it correctly. If you were to
place and center your weight on the moving foot, you could spin very
is usually applied to initiate a turn, for example, a Natural Turn
(right-face) in waltz. On step 1, the right foot goes forward
diagonal to wall. We must then initiate the turn using the left side
of the body (shoulder more than hip) to swing up and forward and this
is CBM. As we complete the turn, CBM disappears and the turn is
completed by a continuation of rotation created by the swing.
there always CBM in commencement of a turn? Ordinarily, yes, but
there are some special types of turns where CBM is not used, e.g.,
Turning Lock or Right Turning Lock. In these figures, there is a
shoulder lead (right side lead), so there is no need for any type of
about CBM but no turn? Yes! Try a Whisk or Hover from closed
position; you will feel CMB on step 1 and there is no turn. It just
feels natural that way.
CONTRA BODY MOVEMENT POSITION (CBMP) -- the definition is obvious by
the words themselves. It is a POSITION rather than a movement. CBMP
is the foot position achieved when the moving foot is placed on or
across the line of the standing foot, in front of or behind. This
happens when one foot is placed in front of the other while dancing.
CBMP is routinely used in steps taken in semi closed position or
outside partner in order to maintain the relative body position of
the couple. Almost all steps taken from outside partner (banjo) will
be in CBMP.
EXERCISE: Stand with the weight on your left foot. Travel forward
while placing the right foot directly in front of the left. Imagine
having a partner with you and you will feel that this is the movement
that is used when moving to outside partner while continuing to face
your partner. Woman, try the same movement but using the opposite
feet and traveling backward.
a good dance frame and using CBMP will allow your legs (in certain
movements) to swing easily.
can simply stand and put your one foot slightly across the body and
it will look like you have used CBM but you have not moved the body.
You have simply placed your foot towards the contra side of the body,
or so to say you have “placed it in CBMP.”
you step outside partner, you don’t want to look like a “ barge”
– 4 hips wide. You want to maintain a reasonable body contact, and
you want a thin line rather than a thick line. Most steps starting in
semi closed position will start in CBMP. Think of it as walking into
a straight line; a slicing position; a tracking of the feet.
this is all based on dancing naturally, and should not be
artificially created. If it doesn’t feel natural, it probably
clinic notes prepared for the ROUNDALAB convention, 2013 and reprinted in the Dixie Round Dance Council (DRDC)
Newsletter, April 2014.
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position, technique, styling, and specific dance rhythms, you may visit
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Aditional articles and dance helps by
Sandi & Dan Finch
& Susie Rotscheid
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