Paul & Linda Robinson
-- two people working together to create a beautiful art form to
music. Dancing is like learning a new language that has moods and
emotions expressed in movement to music, that incorporates rhythm,
grace, and harmony. Even though dancing is the oldest form of art,
it is the most popular, world-wide, today.
in Getting Ready to Dance
Posture for Your Frame.
A good frame is imperative for any form of dance. Posture is an
important part of this -- keep your shoulders back and your upper
body stretching upward. Do not let the sides of your body, from your
ribcage to your hips, collapse when you make body shapes; rather,
stretch one side more than the other. Your body should flow smoothly
from one line to the next line. Imagine that a piece of string is
attached to the crown of your head and is pulling up.
your shoulders -- hold them back and down. Shoulder blades are back
but not squeezed together.
tension by relaxing your jaw.
your tail bone toward the floor rather than tucking in your behind.
Closed Dance Hold
requires the Frame to have connection points.
most important connection point is the man's right wrist under the
lady’s left arm, at the junction of her arm and body. The lady
should be to the (her) left of his centerline. The man’s right
hand is loosely cupped with fingers and thumb together and pointed
down at a 45-degree angle. His hand lies on her back, on the
next connection point is the lady's left hand and forearm on the
man's upper arm. The woman's left arm lies gently on top of the
man’s right arm.
third connection point is the man's left hand to the lady's right
hand. The man’s left hand and lady’s right hand are palm to palm
in an upper-hand clasp, with the lady resting her fingers in the
cradle between his thumb and forefinger. Do not squeeze hands or
bend the wrist back.
last connection point is the body contact. The right side of the
man's front is in contact with the right side of the lady's front.
The connection is from the upper thighs, up through the diaphragm.
Frame and Connection.
bones allow us to stand upright and our joints allow us to move, but
it is our muscles that control it all. The key to moving smoothly is
using our muscles. Our muscles are used to maintain Frame,
Connection, and Control at all times while dancing. The better
muscle control one has, the better and smoother we will move in
to maintain parallel shoulders with your partner.
Your Head Goes.
a general rule, the man looks to the left, over the lady’s right
shoulder. The lady looks to her left, over the man’s right
shoulder. This is your dance window. Another dance rule -- the nose
should follow the toes.
the Big Top.
very large space is created between the heads of the partners and
this is necessary for effecting turning patterns such as pivot
turns. To help create this large space, the lady must stay
positioned against the man’s right hand by stretching upward,
outward, and leftward into the man's right hand.
to the Music.
in correct time to the music is essential to give the appearance of
smooth dancing. Another key point is that the lady’s movement
must never precede the lead and is a response to the man’s lead.
In other words, the man’s lead action will slightly precede the
lady’s response action.
with long, flowing, confident strides
backward steps should reach from the hip and extend to the toe.
partner dancing, the couple is connected and moves as one. The
leader communicates through the dance frame and any other body
contact. The goal is to keep your center turned toward your partner
and maintain a solid frame by keeping tone in your muscles (not
flexing them, stiffening your arms, or trying to crush your partner).
The leader must constantly be aware of where their partner is, what
they are doing, and how. Remember you are not looking at each other
directly but your body is always trying to face each other with
parallel shoulders. A dancer must be connected to the music, to their
partner, and themselves, in order to truly dance.
to the music. Dancing on the beat is certainly the most important
part, but only part of the whole process. Listen to the music and
do what it says. Does it say to move with quick and staccato
actions, or softly and smoothly? The dancing couple’s goal is to
try and fill every microsecond of music, even when the feet are not
moving. Dancing requires a dancer to continue to fill out shapes in
dancing by stretching the body and arms.
within your own body. Make sure both bodies are telling the same
story. It is easy to let the arms do the leading, completely
disconnected from the body. Arm styling does not look good if it
does not match the body. If the arm is reaching to the side, the
body should be reaching, too. In closed dance position, elbows do
not go behind the body because this creates the look of a broken
is defining the pattern to be danced. Do not push or shove the
partner around. At all times, be gentle while keeping muscle tone
in the body. Body language is probably the most important part of
leading. If your partner is attuned to you, if they listen to your
body language, they can detect very slight changes in motion and
direction and can react with very little effort.
the Pieces Together for Beautiful Dancing
best dancers are able to pull all the pieces together and have a
beautiful connection to each other, the music, and within their own
bodies. They seem to float across the floor together in continuous
and fluid motion by easing into a movement in perfect time to the
music, their bodies portraying every note. Every piece of technique
learned and practiced helps couples get a little closer to this high
degree of connection. While it may take some time to reach this
level, focusing on improving your connection to your partner and
music will greatly improve your dancing.
leader must decide what direction to go, what step to dance and
which beat to dance on. The follower must follow the leader’s
directions -- which is more difficult than it sounds -- and complete
the picture the leader wants to sketch. Both partners provide
counterbalance to each other. This allows bigger movements and
dancer’s body should be in continuous motion when you dance. When
weight transfers from one foot to the next by the bending of the
knees, the spine should not stop. The body should move across the
foot in the direction of the next step, with fluidly and continuous
to do the basic steps well before taking up the more difficult
steps. To learn to do the simple basic steps well may not seem
important, but each one leads to perfection, and perfection is our
goal, which is not a little thing.
errors will happen. Don't be embarrassed or annoyed. Laugh it off.
Try again. After all, dancing is supposed to be Fun.
accomplish all of this, there are three important rules in learning
to be a good smooth dancer: PRACTICE, PRACTICE, and PRACTICE.
clinic notes from the ICBDA annual convention, July 2010, in San
This article was published in the Dixie Round Dance Council (DRDC) Newsletter, January 2011