Matching Body Lines
by Harold & Meredith Sears
We recently found a photo of Fred
Astaire and Ginger Rogers dancing "Let's Call the Whole Thing
Off," from the movie Shall We Dance, 1937; yes, on roller
skates, but never mind that.
We like the lesson on body lines
this photo—the demonstration that the shape of the body can be
pleasing and can add to the beauty of the dance. Notice how Fred and
Ginger's leading shape, their right legs, torsos, and arms match
almost exactly. Their head positions, gaze, and even their "artful"
right hand shapes match. We can't see Ginger's left leg, but let's
imagine that their thighs, the angle of their bent knees, and the
amount of rotation and consequent relationship of their legs to the
floor are all exactly the same.
Why is this important? Balance and
symmetry are pleasing to humans. Is it nature or nurture? Surely it
is both, and our artistic responses can be surprisingly powerful. We
love a graceful curve, a flowing, soaring shape. And the shape of one
dancer reinforces that of the other and pushes the effect of the
whole to a higher level. Attention to body shape adds so much to the
look of our dancing.
When we match shapes, it not only
good to others; it looks good and feels good to us. By matching your
partner's line, you are dancing with him or her, rather than simply
doing your own thing somewhere in her proximity. It is a form of
visual communication. You are saying, "I see what you are doing,
I like it, and I'm with you." "We are one."
Given all this, it is interesting
see what Fred and Ginger are doing with their left arms (or what they
are not doing). It pains me to suggest that Fred could ever have left
a mistake on film without doing yet another take, but they are not
together back there, and he looks a little tired and droopy. Ginger
is perky. She feels good, so she looks good. Fred is putting a good
face on it, but deep down, maybe it's been a long day.
So, along with the steps, think about
your own lines and shape. Make them smooth, keep them up. and above
all, make them match. Body lines are an important part of lead and
follow, a part where the woman often leads. Watch and control not
only your steps, but your shapes, too. "Talk" to each
other. Be together or be complementary, but make conscious choices.
Don't be random and disconnected. Don't flail. Make deliberate
choices and be something. If it looks and feels good,
well, that's what dancing is about. Right?
A version of this article was
originally published in
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