I Got Rhythm
& Dan Finch
A new emphasis in dancing is on body rhythm. It is
considered so important now that the major English technique books are being
expanded to include specific jobs for specific parts of the body, not just the
feet, to achieve this idea of body rhythm. So what is body rhythm? It
essentially makes use of basic laws of physics to isolate various muscles to
work independently to maintain posture, balance, and energy for more musical
“There are many ways that the human body can move within the
muscular and skeletal system,” Geoffrey Hearn explains in his new technique
book, The Evolution of Body Rhythm and Dynamic Shaping. Isolating muscle
groups to work more fluidly means the body doesn’t have to dance like a solid bock
Gravity is an element that can assist in rise and fall.
Don’t fight it when lowering, just control it with the feet, ankles, and knees.
Momentum is free energy, providing movement with less work by the body. Like a
bowling ball that continues moving, slowing down only due to friction. Think of
practicing the foxtrot sequence—feather, reverse turn, three step, half
natural—in a narrow hotel hallway to use the free energy of momentum to carry
you through to the end.
That block of weight over the shoulders—the head—can make or
break a figure. For starters, a balanced head position would be, for men,
keeping their head turned so that their nose is over the toes of the left foot,
Hearn suggests. For ladies, he said, think of your nose pointing over the
knuckles of the left hand. He suggests an exercise for ladies to feel the
effects of head weight: Dance solo an open natural from semi-closed position.
Focus your eyes on the same spot in the room through the three steps, as the
head seems to change from right to left. The head actually does not turn at
all. The body has turned to the right under the head. When lady is in a strong
extension, such as a contra check, she should allow her head to return to
normal position slowly, even as she finishes the first step of the next figure,
to avoid loss of balance if the head shifts at the same time as the rest of her
body. Try this when dancing a contra check into a natural pivot.
All good balance begins with posture. To find your vertical
line through the body, run in place, then stop. This has placed the core
muscles of the body in perfect position, with the muscles in the groin lifting.
The support of these muscles places the neck in a proper line, centralizes the
head, and supports the muscles holding up the arms. After trying the run in
place and stop, raise your arms to dance position. Now relax the groin and feel
how much heavier the arms feel. Return to a good frame, men, and then imagine
holding the lady the same way you would hold a tray of crystal glasses filled
with champagne, always level and in front of your body. Shouldn’t be a
problem—we’ve just had all that experience with champagne glasses at New Year’s
newsletters prepared by an
and Sandi Finch , January 2015, and
in the Dixie Round Dance Council (DRDC)
Newsletter, July 2016.