Balance -- Keeping It Simple
& Dan Finch
We take it for granted that we can walk upright. We don’t remember that
as infants, it took us three to four years to learn how to move our
legs to propel our body, keeping our (then) very heavy heads in
balance. We don’t think about it anymore, that is, until it comes to
We can walk, and run, and hurry when we’re late. But we seem not to
understand what our teachers mean when they say we’re not moving our
core. Have you ever fallen out of a simple three-step turn?
If yes, it happened because you forgot that you need to
align your centers.
If you ask Elena Grinenko, former World rhythm champion, the concept of
centers and core are at the heart of being in balance as you dance.
Your core is the group of muscles in your mid-section, between your
“centers”—all of which control movement and balance, she says.
You have a pelvic center, which keeps you grounded, and what we call
your center of levitation, in your chest, that keeps you light. On top
of that is your vertical center, the top of your head down through your
spine. Those three centers need to be in alignment for dancing, as well
as walking or running, Grinenko says.
She was speaking at a workshop at the Elite Dancesport competition in
Irvine, CA. Now a coach, dance judge, and talent agent, she came to the
US from Russia in 1998, became a citizen 10 years later, and has
appeared twice as a professional on Dancing With The Stars. Her
championship partner in world competition was Tony Dovolani.
She believes we have problems dancing because we over-analyze what we
do. We forget to use our internal energy to move, and keeping the
centers in alignment is interpreted as being “straight” or upright, but
that only produces the robotic action we see in beginners. It also
makes you wobbly when you turn.
If you do ever feel like you are falling, it should be natural to move
some body part the opposite way. If you are falling forward, take your
head back to realign the centers. If you are dancing latin, relax into
a hip. If you are dancing a smooth rhythm, relax into your knees. If
your picture line requires your head to go to the left, your pelvis
needs to go to the right to stay in balance.
As your dancing becomes more advanced, you are told that something must
always be moving for you to be “musical.” This comes from your centers.
In the newest waltz we’re teaching, A Walk In The Park, you have two
measures to create a same foot lunge line. If you do it in three beats,
you have to endure a very static, uncomfortable three beats. Try
getting the feet there more slowly, then working your centers—head
stretching left, your pelvis pushed to the right, to create an
evolving—and balanced —picture interpreting the music.
From a club
newsletter October 2017,
in the Dixie Round Dance Council (DRDC)
Newsletter, December 2018. Find a DRDC Finch archive here.