This compilation of posts on posture has been collected by Mark Balzer m-balzer@uiuc.edu From: attmuc6!udvc@attme.att.com Subject: about technique Date: Mon, 19 Oct 1992 13:15:44 GMT I just couldn't handle sitting around and watching questions and comments go by on the bulletin board regarding dance technique. I hope my inputs make sense and are constructive for everyone. There appears to be a fundamental "misunderstanding" about styling in dance. Charles Chiu recently posted questions on the bulletin board which "alarmed" me in a fashion. I've just read a response to his questions, which even further concerns me. DISCLAIMER: I am an amateur dancer, with `significant' experience in International Style dancing. I am not a trained instructor. However, I would like to share some views. The, following comments are derived from International Style dancing, but I believe they also apply to American Style and social dancing. --------------------------------------------- > I notice alot of followers arch their backs, understandably > to obtain the necessary "space". Is this true for the leaders > as well? ... ARRrrrggghhhhhHHH. Never, NEVER, N E V E R, "arch" your back on purpose. It could lead to injuries, is NOT recommended, would restrict movement, and would generate the incorrect postural look. Believe me -- watching a couple with this type of wrong posture HURTS me. Sort of like having your teeth drilled on, or chewing on aluminum foil. Watching people dance with "arched" backs makes my back hurt. The "big" top line is generated by FORWARD projection. Both man and lady have 3-dimensional body 'expansion' and projection towards each other. It is this which can lead to the "look" of having an arch in the back. However, that is NOT purposely created. (Note: the muscle set you use is different -- arching your back stresses your lower back. Forward projection uses all sorts of muscles (stomach, sides, shoulder, etc...). Basically, you must generate a positive projection of yourselves, upwards and forwards. This is to create the "bigger than life" topline. This is NOT achieved via strong muscular use. It is developed, over time, by building your side, etc... muscles, to create a NATURAL, unstrained projection. EXAMPLE: Pretend you're mad. Really REALLY M A D. Point at yourself and state that "I said ...". Really emphasize the word "I". Where do you point to? Your head? Your arm? Your leg? No. 99.9% of you will point to your sternum area. Also, while making the "I" emphasis, you will "puff up" slightly. In dance, your 'emotional' center is in your sternum area. That's where the dancey feelings come from. It's also the exact area from where projection starts. This is NOT a puffed up chest look. Rather, try to develop the "I" consciousness, in combination with a feeling for the music and dancing. Put your finger on your sternum area. Sway from side to side a little with the music on. As the music comes to a high point, hover a bit. Sway dramatically to the other side. Etc etc etc. This is the "dancey" feeling we all need to develop and improve. To make this OBSERVABLE TO OTHERS is why you develop this projection, etc... You will also learn that as you improve your swing action (dynamic body movement), more "shapes" and "sways" will be used to help control the movement (for counter-balance). This creates "bigger shapes". But again, they are not NOT N O T created by arching the back. Most often, these strong shapes involve the side muscles. Again, never NEVER purposely "arch your back". ---------------- > In general, how far do we emphasize the "bend knee" and gliding > on toes aspects of the waltz (boom <bent knee> - cha - cha (on > toes). Should we keep this restrained (so as not to overdo it) > or is it more elegant to stress the up-down movement as much as > possible? Here, I disagree with Dave's response: " ... to achieve this, you should try to emphasize the 'up' and only put in enough bent knee to make a clear distinction ..." The most important aspect of the moving dances is a good, strong, lowering action. In fact, once you've learned about, and have developed some capability for proper weight shift (movement) through the music (in time of course), you will find that it's virtually impossible to lower too much.! (Of course there's all kinds of ways to lower improperly -- such as "double lowering", etc.) What makes the waltz look waltzy (rising up to end of beat 3, with quick lowering as beat 1 arrives), is the fact that you do the LOWERING action. The 'up' part of the waltz action is really, very VERY minimally, "higher" than a normal standing position.!!! Waltz looks like waltz because you've executed the LOWERING.! Why not higher than normal standing position? First, let me clarify. You will be on your toes of course. And with strong, positive, forward projection, it will APPEAR to be "high". But you should NOT be stretched so as as to: 1. be "out of your feet" 2. have straight legs (or even worse, locked knees) 3. stiff upper body with incorrect projection (you won't be able to continue moving). So, by "normal", I mean normal projected, positive dance position. There are 2 FUNDAMENTALS in dancing: 1. The floor is your friend. You must learn to USE the floor. This means lower into it. Let your body mass (center of gravity; weight; ...) be moved through space by body swing, assisted by proper leg and foot actions. Movement is assisted and facilitated by proper foot usage - on EVERY step. 2. Dance is EXPRESSIVE and artistic. You cannot achieve these aspects with straight or locked legs, tightened muscles (other than what's required to support you), or tight back, shoulders, arms, etc. Now, beginners will look "jerky" in action because they don't yet have swing worked in with the leg and foot actions. So things appear stilted. Advanced dancers probably lower even more, but it's very difficult to see because of all the progression too. ------------- Briefly, on spotting your head. Yes, ultimately you "attempt" to "look where you're going". But, not at the sacrifice of proper body weight usage and balance. We must all first learn how to maintain static (standing) balance. Then, dynamic (in movement) balance. Between 2 people! You will learn that head usage (active use of the weight of your head) becomes important to both assist movement (inertia), and to counter-balance strong movement (swing). These concepts are best taught to you, over time, as you develop, by your instructors. They know you, your abilities, your level of competency, and have a general plan of when and how to teach you things like this. ------------------------------ I believe the questions come from a desire to learn, and to understand things which you "see". However, the trick is to learn how to properly generate those effects, and not just physically 'mimic' them. Still, MIMICKRY IS GREAT -- you can learn alot. I've done my fair share (and still do!). But, you must do it in moderation. Be analytical, use common sense, and ask questions. Happy dancing, Vernon Cheng From: mmcohen@cats.ucsc.edu (Michael M Cohen) Subject: Re: about technique Date: 20 Oct 1992 03:56:29 GMT In article <1992Oct19.113616.7689@cbnews.cb.att.com> attmuc6!udvc@attme.att.com writes: > > DISCLAIMER: I am an amateur dancer, with `significant' > experience in International Style dancing. > I am not a trained instructor. However, Vernon is being a bit modest here. I would point out the he and his wife Sara are past USABDA (US Amateur Ballroom Dance Assoc) champions in modern/standard and have represented the US in numerous international competitions. Thanks for your insights... From: hage@netcom.com (Carl Hage) Subject: Re: Waltz - Form & Steps Date: 20 Oct 92 22:21:17 GMT esper@cs35b.cs.umn.edu (Dave Sherohman) writes: : c60c-2gx@web-2g.berkeley.edu (Charles Chiu) writes: : >(2) I notice a lot of followers arch their backs, understandably to : >obtain the necessary "space". Is this true for the leaders as well? : >Does it look better for a man to bend away from his partner while : >waltzing, or maintain a straight frame? : : I don't know the official Wisdom on this one, but I say you should only arch : as much as is necessary to maintain balance (which is frequently not at all). My teachers have always said that the arch is an illusion and that neither the lady or the man should arch forward or backwards. The spine should be straight and vertical over your center of balance. Your head should be back so the center of gravity of your head is directly over the vertical line of your spine. If you lift your torso and neck up, straightening your spine, keeping your shoulders down, your head back over your spine, and look up slightly, it will appear to be a slight arch, even though your head and spine are on a straight vertical line to your center of balance on the floor. (If I could only remember to do all this when I dance I would look much better.) The most common mistake I see in beginners is for both to be leaning forward (with their hips wide apart). Often people think they are straight when they are leaning forward and they think they are arching back when thay are actually straight. Usually there is insufficient space because the center of gravity of the head is too far forward. A trick I was taught was to stand with your back against a wall (or doorway). Lift your head up as far as it can go (without rising on your toes or locking your knees) and keep it back against the wall. Flatten the small of your back (lower back) against the wall (you basically need to move your pelvis forward slightly to eliminate the arch). Keeping your head up, press your shoulders down and back as far as possible, stretching the muscles in your neck till they hurt. Then keeping your shoulders down and back raise your elbows up and out, and raise your left hand. Walk away from the wall keeping that position and dance a 4 minute fortrot in that position. It feels wierd, hurts like hell (at first), but looks great and the ladies say that you are much easier to follow. : >(4) does someone know exactly where the man's head should be during : >waltz steps? For example, during a spiral sequence, some leaders : >turn their heads alternately towards and away from their partner, while others keep : >their heads always away from partner's... During turns, for example, is it always : >necessary to spot with your head? : The rule of thumb normally taught is the man and lady keep the head slightly to the left most of the time, i.e. going forward, backwards, in turns, pivots, spirals (forward), etc. In promenade, your hips should be almost facing each other and your "forward" step is really a step to the side with the mans head turned to the left, and the ladies head turned to the right. When the man stretches the left side to create a sway to the right, he turns his head slightly to the right, and the lady turns more to the left. With the right side streched creating a left sway, the mans head turns slightly to the left and the lady turns her head to the right. I think the general idea behind the head position is to create a good "top line" which the lady uses to follow, and secondary, for the sake of appearance. Usually, if your head position moves in a turn (particularly a pivot), your top line falls apart, your center of balance gets off, and your lead becomes poor. My teachers keep telling me, "Keep your head still. You can do more my moving less." When done properly, my lead greatly improves. Of course, if you are at a social dance and you are trying to have a conversation, you will probably have better luck looking at your partner rather than looking to the left with your nose up and with a stiff upper lip. Don't get too wrapped up in her though, because if you don't pay attention and avoid other dancers, she won't want to dance with you again. To avoid collisions you must track all the other dancers ahead and beside you using your eyes and peripheral vision, and estimate thier possible positions when moving backwards or when selecting a direction to move. When going backwards and you are about to crash, you can see the whites of your partners eyes get very large and her jaw usually drops with a look of panic. Depending on the crowd, violate the rule of thumb to make sure you don't crash. If you get a really good teacher, they can show you how "proper" technique has a rational basis which improves your lead and improves your style and appearance. Of course, the cost of lessons at High and Mighty Studios doesn't always correlate with the quality of teachers, or the proper technique. Out here, the highest cost studio has the least experienced teachers. However, there are some teachers who teach at a Recreation Center or School, etc. around here who teach things that are completely wrong. For example, I had a class where the teacher said the way you lead is with strong arms and you just push her where you want her to go, like she was a sack of potatoes. "Make her move where you want!" She also said that if the lady gets stepped on, it is her fault for not moving her feet back. (I find it funny/tragic when a lady who heard that insists she was wrong for being stepped on when the real reason is that our body positions flew apart.) From: troyer@ips.id.ethz.ch Subject: Re: about technique Date: Wed, 21 Oct 1992 21:59:48 GMT I agree completely with what Vernon Cheng <attmuc6!udvc@attme.att.com> and Carl Hage <hage@netcom.com> have posted. But there seem to be some misunderstandings. Now about the head position. I agree with the general rule of 'look where you're going'. You look in your direction and your partner in the other direction. She can signal you if there is someone standing in your way. E.g. she can pinch you with her left hand. As Carl Hage mentioned, by turning th eyes and using peripkeral vision you can see enough to avoid crashes. Of course this has to be practiced and many good competitive dancers have not learned it as we sometimes get to feel at competitions. >> When the man stretches the >>left side to create a sway to the right, he turns his head slightly to the >>right, and the lady turns more to the left. With the right side streched >>creating a left sway, the mans head turns slightly to the left and the lady >>turns her head to the right. > > Interesting. I've rarely seen a noticable turn of the head in a sway; > personally, I tend to look at my partner (default since we aren't really going > anywhere, besides, if it's my regular partner, I certainly enjoy looking at > her!) and just tip my head to the side you say to turn it towards. But the turn of the head is really natural. When the man stretches his right side and the lady her left then the shoulder line is no longer horizontal. The head, being the heaviest part of the body naturally tends to fall to the left (lady's right) side, resulting in the mentioned turn. In general, turning the head to look at your partner changes your body position and alignment. This makes it harder for you to lead and for her to follow. Carl Hage has written a long paragraph about this subject. Dancing lines is different of course, and there the aim is not movement, but presentation of the lady. There it is, in general, more natural and correct to look at her. Believe me, the more you know of the proper technique, the easier dancing will be and the more you will like it. It is not a question of this month's style, but of fundamental principles of bio-mechanics that have to be followed (e.g. your knee can bend only forwards, etc.). As I have mentioned above, I do not know about the quality of teachers in the United States and about their teaching methods. I believe that everywhere there are good teachers, and others who sometimes teach total nonsense. You have to be careful in selecting a teacher. And do not believe everything they tell you. One of our teachers, a past world champion from Australia, told us to always check what others tell us. Look into a mirror and if it does not look good, then tell them. From watching world class couples at competitions and on video you get to know how it should look like. He also told us, that whenever someone wanted to change their posture or hold they first asked him about the success he had with this posture/hold and if it really improved his dancing. Just last weekend we had lessons with past world champions from Germany. They told my partner to lean back more (AARGH!). We told them that that cannot be right, as her spine would no longer be straight then. After a five minute discussion we moved on to different topics. In the evening they gave a demonstration at a ball and we watched her posture. She really leaned back as she wanted us to do, but it did not look god. They looked heavy, especially in the pivots. This is one of the differences between the English and the German style in International Style Ballroom. A decade ago these differences were much bigger, but they still exist. Germans tended to have a more rigid top line and to lean back more, while the English style is more straight. Nevertheless the top line looks big, but in reality is an illusion, as Carl Hage mentioned. So we decided not to follow their advice, but continue to keep the straight hold. At home we looked at pictures of the Woods, Hiltons and Sinkinsons, and what we saw there confirmed our opinion. To summarize, be careful about what your teacher tells you. You have to learn to argue with them. It sure was not easy for us to tell a world champion that we do not believe him on that topic. To all of you: Enjoy your dancing. That is the most important aspect of dancing. But the proper technique is not just something that a few senile Englishman decided, but can help you a lot. I do not know about 'style changes' in the US, but here in Europe the style seems to be pretty stable and to change only over the decades. Standing straight has become more important in the last decade as the dancing has become more dynamic. Therefore the lady has to be more active and for that she needs to stand straight and can't hang in her partner's arms. But otherwise there have been no mayor style changes that I know of in the last decade. I am glad that I'm not in the US and have to adapt to 'this month's style' every four weeks :-). Matthias Troyer Disclaimer: I'm just an amateur dancer, with a few year's experience in competitive ballroom dancing. The topics mentioned in the last posts are ones that we worked on in the last months and discussed a lot with our friends. So I could not keep quiet. From: hage@netcom.com (Carl Hage) Subject: Re: Waltz - Form & Steps Date: 21 Oct 92 21:11:54 GMT DISCLAIMER: If I wrote a disclaimer to match Vernon's, I'm a lousy dancer with little experience and you should take everything I say with a tablespoon of salt. The point of a good top line is not to look like a mannequin but to provide a good frame for the lady to follow. Actually, you want to have a good top line and NOT look like a mannequin. When facing the line of dance or diagonal to wall, turning your head slightly to the left is facing the area you will move to in a curved ballroom. When you are turning, if you move your head around, spot, etc. most likely your shoulders will move around, e.g. take a dive, and your balance will be off. This makes you hard to follow. If you spend some time perfecting your turns, keeping your head still, etc. then go dance with someone you usually dance with, she will say, "Wow, you are much easier to follow!". Try it! Go dance something simple and move your head around so you always look where you are going. Then pretend you are a super royal snob stiff mannequin and dance the same steps. Ask your partner what is the difference in your lead. Neither of these is what you should do, it's somewhere in between these extremes. While you are practicing, you will probably look like a mannequins with no expression, but once you learn it then you can be more expressive and not be so stiff. When you are trying to improve your dancing and learn some new technique, which is worse, a) looking like a mannequin, or b) being hard to follow? Note that I think that someone who looks really stiff at a regular dance looks kind of silly. From: hage@netcom.com (Carl Hage) Subject: Re: Waltz Date: 21 Oct 92 21:11:58 GMT Sometimes workshops are very good for technique and often have high quality teachers, both local and outside celebrities, and are reasonably cost effective. When you take a class from a national champion, they have probably had hundreds of teachers explain different ways to achieve good form, and the tips they give are pretty good. Some things are hard to get without private lessons, and unfortunately these can be very expensive. However, a few privates along with group classes and workshops can help. You can also get together with a few friends a split a private lesson. From: troyer@ips.id.ethz.ch Subject: Re: about technique Date: Thu, 22 Oct 1992 20:48:43 GMT esper@cs35b.cs.umn.edu (Dave Sherohman) writes: >>But the turn of the head is really natural. When the man stretches his right >>side and the lady her left then the shoulder line is no longer horizontal. >>The head, being the heaviest part of the body naturally tends to fall to the >>left (lady's right) side, resulting in the mentioned turn. > > I think you may be calling a 'turn' of the head what I'm calling a 'tilt'. I, > at least, feel a natural tendency of the head to fall towards the lower > shoulder (what I call a 'tilt'), but no tendency of the nose (best definition > I can think of for which way my head is turned) to point anywhere other than > straight forward (what I call a 'turn'). I agree: when you have a sway, then your spine and your head are tilted. But the long top line is important for a good look and when your head tilts more than your spine, then the line from your spine to your head is broken. When I do a slight sway the head normally stays where it is, and the nose does not turn, as you put it. Correct. But if a dance a bigger sway, like in a chasse roll to left, then it seems more natural to me, if my partner turns her nose to the right, in the direction where her body is tilted to. If she would keep her head to the left and tilted, her nose would point up to ceiling and she would really look like a lifeless mannequin. But that is a matter of personal taste and you can do as you like. From: matz@physics.ubc.ca (Daniel Matz) Subject: Re: Proper frame... Date: 6 May 1994 23:07:21 GMT bassama@microsoft.com (Bassam Abukarroum) writes: >"lean into me..." or "keep those knees bent and shoulders relaxed". >Or my favorite "...tuck your tummy in and _don't_ stick your butt out!!" ;) I think we all have those problems starting out and few of us ever get over them. You get yourself all set up with the proper frame, head facing the right way, etc. Then you take one step and it all goes to hell. One way you can work on your frame is to know your steps well enough so you can dance thru them without thinking about them. That way you can put your feet on automatic pilot, which leaves your mind free to think about frame. From: tpower@daisy.cc.utexas.edu (Thomas Power) Subject: Re: Proper frame... Date: 10 May 1994 11:37:16 -0500 Organization: The University of Texas - Austin Josiah Way <way@aludra.usc.edu> wrote: >The frame IS the most important part of dancing. Without it, >you're doing steps, but not interacting with your partner, >which to me is what dancing is about. So, here are a few >pointers I have picked up over the years... > >1. Don't necessarily worry about tucking in and all that >stuff, rather pull your shoulders down and back, and the rest >seems to follow. > >2. Eye contact can be the easiest way to lead, and allows for >individual styling. Well, I agree that frame IS the most important (technical) part of dancing, but I take issue with these two suggestions. 1. The shoulders should be "down," but "back" could cause problems. While it is true that a slumped over appearance is to be avoided, the tendency when one is told to put the shoulders "back" is to thrust the chest out in a "military attention" style. This is just as bad as being slumped over. Also, when the arms are in dance position, the "shoulders back" shaping will tend to put the elbows behind your body, which is also unattractive. The shoulders should be a natural part of a body frame which is gently curved (in the horizontal plane) concave *toward* your partner. This should give the man's coat (or hypothetical coat) a good stretch across the back between the shoulders -- consciously pulling the shoulders back will tend to compress this "big back" and wrinkle the coat. The "taut coat, big back" look is the objective here. 2. Eye contact in smooth/modern dancing is very seldom even going to be possible if both partners are dancing with good frame. If you try to look at your partner, you will: a) invade your partner's dance space. b) corrupt your own frame. c) (very likely) lose your balance. Fighting the urge to look at your partner is a hurdle everyone has to clear on the way to dancing with good frame. It can be amazing to see the improvement that can occur immediately when you finally begin keeping your head properly left at all times -- I have found this to be particularly true in V. Waltz, where if you try to look at your partner you are courting disaster. I used the term "smooth/modern" in their usual (ballroom) context to differentiate these dances (Waltz, Foxtrot, Tango, V. Waltz, Quickstep) from the rhythm/latin dances (Rumba, Cha Cha, various swings, Mambo, Bolero, etc.) In the rhythm/latin dances, there is more space between the partners in closed position, and there is also more time spent out of closed position. Eye contact is very much a part of these dances, socially as well as competitively. (In smooth/modern) if your aim is a graceful partnership in motion, then physics demands certain things of you and your partner, among them that you stay "left" and avoid encroaching on your partner's space, which is exactly what happens when you look at your partner during this type (smooth/modern) of dance. The most common consequence of this encroachment is that you begin stepping on your partner's feet, which I find to be more undesirable than having no eye contact during the dance. (My partners find it even more undesirable than I do. :-) ) > 3. Practice holding a yard stick between your hands. Yes, I > know it looks really really really strange, but it works. > 4. When streaching before your practice, do those little > windmill thingys with your arms, it builds up stamina. > 5. THINK posture, and it will happen. > 6. Last, but not least, and most important... LOOK UP!!!! Subject: Re: Proper frame... From: jhsegal@wiscon.weizmann.ac.il (Livian Segal) Date: Tue, 17 May 1994 08:48:29 GMT Over the last half year I have a big problem deciding which way of dancing looks best (frame?): -Dancing softly, flowing with the dance, bending the body in the partner's direction, and then the dance looks like a soft jello floating after it was hit with a stick or -Dancing stiff,moving almost only the legs and hands, holding the body straight and stiff. What looks better? I first thought the first one is better, because it looks more virtuousi, but then people told me it's not so pretty. From: kh@litsun35.epfl.ch (Mark S.) Subject: Re: Proper frame... Date: 17 May 1994 13:55:53 GMT For me dance (spec. argentinian tango) needs both strength and resilience as well as fluidity and flow. The frame is naturally upright, with a straight axis through the spine, with the slight tug of gravity (not your muscular system) pulling down at all parts of the body. The teachings of Gustavo Naveira, one of the great teachers of tango concentrate on moving and turning the whole body in a position that clearly leaves the natural place for the lady to move into. This makes a totally relaxed dance style possible with a natural stance and virtually no guiding with the arms. From: cornett@malibu.crd.ge.com (dan cornett) Subject: Re: Proper frame... Date: Mon, 16 May 1994 11:44:47 GMT apowell@liberty.uc.wlu.edu (April N. Powell) writes: >Bart L. McJunkin (mcjunkin@spk.hp.com) wrote: >: : begin keeping your head properly left at all times -- I have found >: : this to be particularly true in V. Waltz, where if you try to look >: : at your partner you are courting disaster. > >Funny--I remember reading in some old manual of social behavior >that what made the waltz a truly romantic dance (and scandalous, >as well!) was that the only way for a lady to avoid becoming dizzy >while dancing it was to stare deeply into her partner's eyes. I do not recall which, but either Thomas Hillgrove (1865), Allen Dodworth (1883/1885) or M.B. Gilbert (1890) pointed out that the head should be turned slightly to the left as "the gentleman may be fresh from a meerschaum" - the concern was bad breath, not dancing form. From: mcjunkin@spk.hp.com (Bart L. McJunkin) Subject: Posture Improvement Date: Thu, 21 Apr 1994 22:52:15 GMT With all the expertise out there, I'd like to hear your observations on upper body posture. I'm always working on keeping my posture as perfect as possible. I'm sure that you've all heard these commands: shoulders back (but relaxed), head up, chest out. By the time I've pleased the teacher I can feel wholly unnatural; my shoulders blades are so far back I could crack walnuts between them, my chest is so far out that my spine may snap at any moment, and my head is so far up that I can barely see my partner past my nose. How straight should I hold the spine? I also tuck the pelvis in to keep the spine straight, Is this correct? Should I sleep flat on my back? After maintaining this posture for days on end, the shoulder and neck muscles are incredibly sore. Can stretching exercises help me make this posture my normal pose? Would strength training help me more? Which kind would you recommend? From: larson@cfar.umd.edu (Sara Larson) Subject: Re: Posture Improvement Date: 22 Apr 1994 01:15:43 GMT Bart L. McJunkin (mcjunkin@spk.hp.com) wrote: : How straight should I hold the spine? I also tuck the : pelvis in to keep the spine straight, Is this correct? : Should I sleep flat on my back? : After maintaining this posture for days on end, the : shoulder and neck muscles are incredibly sore. : Can stretching exercises help me make this posture my normal : pose? The stretching FAQ was not completely useful for : this. Would strength training help me more? Which kind : would you recommend? This is why kids join ballet classes. When you grow up, it takes longer before you stop using good posture. The above was meant to say this: Question 1: Pretend there is a string holding your head up and away from the rest of your body. Now how straight does your back have to be? Question 2: Hmm. Maybe. I tuck mine in, because old Mrs. Bruce used to tell us she wanted our bottoms to be so tight a pin could not prick us there. Har, I say. Very har. But somehow, terror worked. Question 3: Yes. Other questions: Don't know, generally speaking. But ballet strengthens the body pretty well, usually from the spine outward. Good stuff. You do get used to it. From: wachal@hebron.connected.com (Mike Wachal) Subject: Re: Posture Improvement Date: 21 Apr 1994 19:16:11 -0700 Here is my views for what they are worth... Take them for what you paid for them. Shoulders back: I hear this all the time! I think that this is not strictly the correct way to say what is needed. Shoulders not forward is probably better. Your shoulders should be down (ie not shrugged up around you ears) and not pushed forward. This should have the affect of "widening your back". What does that mean? Well, you shouldn't be able to crack a walnut between you shoulder blades, thats for sure! If your shoulder blades are pushed together, your chest will be in you partner's face (so to speak) and they will generally be annoyed with you. Head up: I have a particular problem with this! My head is always down. If a coach puts it up I drop it again. Of course with me dropping my head all the time, it's bound to get stepped on sooner or later! :-) In the case of the head, just don't look at the ceiling, some coaches will also say head left to get the same effect. Keep your neck line straight, and turn your head by pivoting it on top of your neck, not by bending your neck, thus having the effect of rocking your head back and forth. Chest out?: You have me on this one, no coach has ever told me to stick my chest out! This isn't the Army after all, it ballroom dancing. Your teacher may be after a general lifting of your posture to make you stand up straighter. I have found that the net result of all of this is that you are standing up straight! The man's dance posture is not all that different that what a normal person with good posture would demonstrate, it is just a little more studied. If your position is causing tension in your frame, it will affect your and your partners dancing. Anything that causes actual pain is not correct! In most cases, the teachers are not saying anything wrong. Diferent things make sense to different people. Ask you coach/teacher to explain what s/he wants in a different way and tell them that what you are currently doing is painful. Hopefully they won't laugh hysterically and say "Yes, Yes, thats exactly what I intended! Hahahahahaha" ;-) Ballroom dancing, especially social dancing, should be a fun, pleasant, and yes, painless experience. From: dmace@xs4all.hacktic.nl (Danny Maas) Subject: Re: Proper frame... Date: 15 May 1994 20:13:49 GMT Josiah Way (way@aludra.usc.edu) wrote: : The frame IS the most important part of dancing. Without it, : you're doing steps, but not interacting with your partner, : which to me is what dancing is about. So, here are a few : pointers I have picked up over the years... : 3. Practice holding a yard stick between your hands. Yes, I : know it looks really really really strange, but it works. Better still, try a broomstick behind your back, holding it with your armpits (elbowpits??) and sit straight on a chair. Now try turning your whole body, instead of just your arms. After a few days you'll get the frame you're looking for. : 4. When streaching before your practice, do those little : windmill thingys with your arms, it builds up stamina. : 5. THINK posture, and it will happen. This is the best advice you can get!!!! When you want to look good, you must think you look good. Convince yourself of your style. : 6. Last, but not least, and most important... LOOK UP!!!! but not straight. Makes you look fuzzy and you can't see where you're going. A tip that works for me: In Paso Doble, hold your body straight, fill your lungs with as much air as you can, think of your partner as a flag and imagine the bull you're about to fight. This will make you look like a torero and gives the correct frame for this dance. Try to get behind every meaning and history of every dance. Like in Rumba, do not just dance act and feel like you're in love. In Tango act like you're upset over an argument with your partner and you'll have to dance but don't want to. All these thing help you in your frame. From: coats@cardinal.ncsc.org (Carlie Coats) Subject: Re: Proper frame... Date: Mon, 23 May 1994 13:08:07 GMT rhn@netcom.com (Ron Nicholson) writes: >Bart L. McJunkin <mcjunkin@spk.hp.com> wrote: >> begin keeping your head properly left at all times -- I have found >> this to be particularly true in V. Waltz, where if you try to look >> at your partner you are courting disaster. > >Note that keeping your head left in certain dances (like V. Waltz & Int. >Tango) allows you to dance *closer* to your partner. > >It's partially a matter of geometry and physics. If you turn your head >head slightly to the side, the weight of your head is now over one foot >instead of forward of your centerline. That makes it easier to not >lean on your partner or stick some other part of your anatomy out in >the opposite direction to act as a counter balance. It also tends to orient the bodies so that the shoulders are more nearly parallel. As a result, the feet mesh better--aren't pointing in different directions--making it less likely that you step on your partner's feet. Of course, if you're really well-trained and self-disciplined about the shape of your frame, that's not a problem :-) From: Jim_Brownfield@radical.com (Jim Brownfield) Subject: Re: Proper frame... Date: Wed, 18 May 1994 00:15:03 GMT Livian Segal writes: > over the last half year I have a big > problem deciding which way of dancing looks best (frame?): > -Dancing softly, flowing with the dance, bending the body in the partner's > direction, and then the dance looks like a soft jello floating after it was > hit with a stick > or > -Dancing stiff,moving almoust only the legs and hands, holding the body > straight and stiff. > > What looks better? I first thought the first one is better, because it looks > more virtuouse, but then people told me it's not so pretty. IMHO, neither one is correct. One way to look at the problem is to ask the questions: "Would you consider someone who is bending their body as they walk to have good posture?", and "Do people who walk with good posture look 'stiff'?" I think the answer to both questions is obviously "no." But generally, we consider people who walk with good posture to look better than people who walk with poor posture. It's the same in dance, and yes, I know it's easier said than done! :-) When in the proper frame, you need to have good posture and good muscle tone without being stiff. I think this tends to be a little harder for us men because we are so self conscious about dancing in the first place (and we have too damn much to think about out on the floor anyway ;-) ). One of the keys to relaxing and not looking "stiff" is to remember to *dance* (i.e listen to the music, mellow out, and have some fun -- this will also help your arm styling). We tend to get so hung up on technicalities that we miss the forest for the trees. This is one reason why it's so important to smile on the dance floor. If you're smiling, you relax, and you *can't* take yourself too seriously :-). From: rhn@netcom.com (Ron Nicholson) Subject: Re: Where do I look while dancing? Date: Fri, 9 Jun 1995 21:45:32 GMT Tom Hart <tjh@admin.hampshire.edu> wrote: >Among the many questions we have at this point is: Where do we look while >dancing? (We're most concerned with the question as it relates to EC >swing and waltz and foxtrot). For some smooth dances, I've heard that keeping the head turned about 45-60 degrees to the side helps the balance and shape. Keeping the center of mass of the head to the side definitely helps prevent sticking out ones posterior to counter balance forward head weight. The difficult decision for me is what to do when the head position for the best balance and shape in a step leaves me with a blind spot. From: Rahul Dhesi <dhesi@rahul.net> Subject: Re: Where do I look while dancing? Date: 10 Jun 1995 22:03:00 GMT I will just just briefly mention that your head and your eyes do not have to look in exactly the same direction. You can cover almost 90 degrees with central vision and close to 180 degrees with peripheral vision. So balance with your head and use your eyes to steer or flirt etc. From: "dsmart@csc.com" <dsmart@nastg> Subject: Re: Where do I look while dancing? Date: Mon, 12 Jun 1995 12:43:49 -0400 On 8 Jun 1995, Tom Hart wrote: > Among the many questions we have at this point is: Where do we look while > dancing? (We're most concerned with the question as it relates to EC > swing and waltz and foxtrot). During the waltz and foxtrot, it seems that > we're really too close to look directly at each other, so that's not an > issue, but in what direction should we be looking (i.e. how should our > heads be turned in relation to our bodies)? In swing, we're often far > enough apart to be able to look at one another, but I often find that to > be disconcerting (and I mean no slight on my beautiful partner!) > I've had instructors who would grab my head and yell "EYES UP" and "STAY LEFT" (is it my breath?). Other's who recited "nose over toes", or "look where your going". I think you CAN look anywhere. It's not just a question of where to cast your embarrased glances, but your dance style, posture, partnership and expression. You want a style that's comfortable -on you- and looks good -on you-, at your level. Falling into your partners eyes and forgetting to recite 'slow slow quick quick' is an unrelated though common problem. More practice makes the footwork easier to remember. My suggestion (for closed dance position) is "smile over your left wrist". For promenade positions - "smile over your left elbow". My other advise is that no advise is appropriate to all situations. --------------- Why so much advice? Do you look at your partner or don't you? Vision: You have to be able to see down the dance floor (remember counter-clockwise line of dance) to move and not collide. With each partner looking slightly left you both get visiblity. Posture: The position of the head and shape of the upper body makes a big difference in your personal balance and your mutual balance. Where you look affects your posture and dancing. A lot of the advise I have recieved for where to look, has really been advise to affect posture or looks and make it easier to dance. When looking at your partner, there is a tendancy for the whole upper body to shape right and 'crowd' your partner. Looking left tends to force one to shape left, initiate a bit of 'contra body movement', open up the center and make room for each partner. It also re-distributes about 10 pounds of mass toward the 'outside' of your dance frame. The tendency to slouch is also reduced when shaping left. Thats a lot of posture, and frame alignment for a simple adjustment. I assume that's why my bronze instructor yelled "LEFT" all the time. Expression: You want to express the dance to yourself, your partner and perhaps an audience. Of course, when you can control and isolate well enough to look without affecting your frame, your instructor can fix the frame for dancability, and set your 'top line' for looks, and you can direct romantic glances to your partner, smiles to the audience, and glares to oncomming traffic and not miss a beat. The best couples (not me!) learn to 'act' out the dance with looks and gestures. Looking at the floor is a common beginner problem ("EYES UP"). It's hard to learn to move strongly down the floor when you are watching your feet. But, I have seen a TV bit on Tango (milanga style?) where the men use a more downcast and partner oriented style. It looks great on them! Of couse advise can be followed beyond the 'useful clue' stage to 'over practiced obsession'. Kinking the head left, staring at the ceiling, ignoring or dancing 'away' from your partner are not desireable either. Dave From: ve6yj@compusmart.ab.ca (Ed Panker, Panker Systems Ltd.) Subject: Re: Where do I look while dancing? Date: Tue, 13 Jun 95 00:58:13 GMT Tom Hart <tjh@admin.hampshire.edu> wrote: >Among the many questions we have at this point is: Where do we look while >dancing? (We're most concerned with the question as it relates to EC >swing and waltz and foxtrot). For the smooth dances (Waltz/Fox) in closed position, if you and your partner have achieved the proper offset (to check, each partners right foot should be 'pointed' between the other partner's feet - gentleman AND lady) you should both be looking up and left. The rule of thumb, follow the centre-line of the body at the breast-bone. This is important especially for the lady. Why? The lady has an option for more movement. Promenande position as an example. Here the lady, if she wants to honor her centre-line, will feel a natural tendancy to look up and over to the right as she is turned out into promenade position. Gentleman stays looking up and left. For that matter, the lady can't go wrong looking up and left either. In any case, DON'T EVER LOOK AT THE FLOOR: the steps are not painted on there - no point looking there unless you're helping someone find lost jewelry. Ed. From: Ron Nicholson <rhn@sgi.com> Subject: Re: head weight & int. ballroom Date: 10 Aug 1995 19:34:38 GMT Every dance expresses itself differently. I hope that no one would confuse my posture in an international style foxtrot with my posture for a samba or a fast swing. Smooth, traveling dances create a completely different set of technical problems from spot rhythm dances; and what's good placement for the head and hips in one dance, may be completely wrong in another dance. Dances where balance is paramount (smooth) require a different set of mechanics from dances where rhythmic energy or even flirtation are more important. From: lgibbons@esu.edu (Liz Gibbons) Newsgroups: misc.fitness.misc,rec.arts.dance Subject: Re: Q: exercises for tucking tail under Date: 28 Jan 1996 21:04:12 GMT CelsiusTech New Zealand (ctnz@ihug.co.nz) wrote: : I have recently become more aware of my 'sway back' or back tilted : pelvis, causing by butt(tail) to stick out while running, and more : importantly dancing. : Does anyone have any suggestions for exersizes to improve this ? : Thnaks in advance This could be cause by different things: excessive lumbar curve in the, spine, a tilted pelivs, or the shape of the gluteus. If your problem is excessive lumbar curve, lie on your back with your knees bent and press the lower back to the floor. you will need to engage the abdominals to do this. Memorize this sensation, and maintain it when standing. Often we tighten our lower backs when we get stressed: turning (pirouettes!), running, etc. If your problem is retreating pelvis, it might be a movement habit or tight hip flexors (iliopsoas) and/or iliofemoral ligament. For this you'll need to stretch the muscles and ligaments: Stand in parallel first, then slide the right leg back (bend the left leg). Keep the torso upright and keep the abs pulled up. You'll probably feel a pull through the front of the right hip. Hold for 10-30 seconds, and repeat on the other leg. Some people can take this into a deep lunge with the front leg bent at a 90-degree angle. Liz From: FocusNow@ix.netcom.com (Robert Keeney) Newsgroups: misc.fitness.misc,rec.arts.dance Subject: Re: Q: exercises for tucking tail under Date: Tue, 30 Jan 1996 00:52:30 GMT henrik@husc7.harvard.edu (Larry DeLuca) wrote: >CelsiusTech New Zealand <ctnz@ihug.co.nz> writes: >>I have recently become more aware of my 'sway back' or back tilted >>pelvis, causing by butt(tail) to stick out while running, and more >>importantly dancing. >>Does anyone have any suggestions for exersizes to improve this ? >Well, first you need to establish whether the problem is caused by >muscle imbalance or a congenital deformity. It wouldn't hurt to have >your doctor look at it to be sure. > >Provided there is no orthopedic problem, generally strengthening the >abdominals, buttocks, and hamstrings, and stretching the low back >and hip flexors (combined with appropriate emphasis on good posture >and some time spent retraining) will correct the situation. > >larry... This is an area of much controversy. IF you constantly try for a straight-and-narrow spine, you tend to put pressure on the disks and destroy you spine! A little "swayback" is normal and healthy. Possibly the best examples of healthy posture are human babies. Highly recommend you speak with several different chiropractors and massage therapists. This is a very unique area and one where professional advice should be sought. Health first. What you are "supposed" to be is secondary! The fact you are aware means 90% of the solution is there. Robert Keeney - putting my body back together after years of erroneous conditioning and incorrect goals.