by Irv &
How to Master This Round Dancer Essential!
“ Dance Newbies” aren’t the only ones who have trouble grasping the
“Dance Frame”. Even highly trained dancers find it challenging to
master the arm positioning and stance. Most dancers learn visually, so
teachers will try to display proper body position always.
So what is frame, exactly? “Frame” is the word used to describe a
dancer’s body position in terms of how the partners stand, hold their
arms, and physically connect with their partner. Traditional rules of
frame apply more to waltz, foxtrot, and two step (as used in Phases 1,
2, & 3 of Round Dancing). Frame is so important in standard
styles. Having the correct frame can also improve your dancing, while
not having it can seriously hinder you. Without a frame, dancers’
bodies aren’t able to connect. A lopsided, sloppy frame means you’re
not able to move together as one. Plus, you can really throw off your
center of balance.
Understand the basics. Correct frame begins with 4 points of
connection: Guy’s left hand to girl’s right hand, guy’s right hand to
girl’s left upper back, girl’s left forearm to guy’s right elbow, and
girl’s left hand to guy’s right bicep. For a stable frame, you should
picture a long, strong line stretching between your elbows. It is also
important to keep your shoulders back and down.
Perfect your posture. Upright posture is a major part of proper frame.
Stand with your back against the wall pressing your feet, calves,
buttocks, shoulders, and head against it, then walk away and try to
maintain that position—now you are in perfect position! The stretch in
your abs should feel like an elastic band, pulling both up and down
from the waist. Beginning dancers should do this exercise several times
Resistance is key. To avoid “spaghetti arms”! They are a major don’t in
Closed Position. To avoid noodle limbs, add a touch of resistance to
your frame. Typically the male partner sets the tone by applying slight
pressure in the connected palm, and the female partner follows his lead
by giving the same amount back. The female must be very precise, so
that she is not overly resistant. If you over-resist, you can’t be led.
If you under-resist, you can’t be led. It has to be the perfect flow of
energy, like electricity traveling from one person into the other.
Let it bloom. Use the visual of a flower blossoming. Think of the rose
opening up in full blossom. That should bring to mind a very narrow
stem and a big flower. From the diaphragm down is the stem; from the
diaphragm up forms the flower.
Basically the man’s right leg should go between the woman’s legs, and
they should stay intertwined through the dance. Partners should stay
close from the kneecap to the chest (like a stem) and then blossom
outward with their upper bodies. One of the difficulties of learning to
do ballroom well is figuring out how to dance while keeping that
connection. The frame holds it all together—it’s the glue!
Now that we have established the frame, what pictures, what works of
art, can we insert in that frame? Some examples: Right Lunge, Promenade
Sway, Contra Check, Change of Sway, Whisk, Same Foot Lunge, Opposition
Point, and Throwaway Oversway.
clinic notes prepared for the RAL Convention, 2016,
in the Dixie Round Dance Council (DRDC)
Newsletter, February 2017.