Ballroom Dance > Body Swing and Foot Placements

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by Chris Stratton, Mar 7, 2005.

  1. Ithink

    Ithink Active Member

    There is nothing physiological about telling me that it comes from the downswing. What is a downswing? Why does it happen? It seems to me that the body becomes irrelevant in this equation - what happens there, noone knows because everyone is too busy saying keywords like "downswing" and "upswing" and noone knows what the heck they mean or how they happen or whatnot. It may be a physics-based explanation but it has nothing to do with the mechanisms inherent in the body.

    "Swing down while speeding up" - how do you speed up is my question? What does your body do when it speeds up? How does it achieve speed and momentum? I believe Some Guy addressed that very well but that's because he was quoting School #2, not School #1. It's amazing to me that a US finalist told me last week that I am to create my shape from the ribcage up. When I asked him to explain what happens to my spine when I shape, he said, oh you don't use your spine while dancing. Umm, what? That is precisely why I am asking the questions because I believe what this majority is teaching is so, well, unnatural... Dancing is hard enough without making it so much harder than it needs to be. Harder on your body, that is...
  2. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    When your weight is forwards of your standing foot, gravity will accelerate you forwards and downwards.
  3. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    The momentum comes from " foot compression "... the amount applied.. foot pressure.. as released, is converted into motion in a given and desired direction, at a speed that should be in accordance with your intended direction.( 2 of the physicists I teach ,say its a diluted form of kinetic energy )

    One should also consider the " pitch " in body preparation and flight . The maxim of " body falls.. foot catches " , is a principle that several high profile coaches use.

    There will always be differing opinions on how to achieve an end result... as witnessed by the previous comparisons .

    Someone asked Gleave ( many yrs back ) which part of his body moved first... his reply " My knee " .

    But, Scrivener said it best " if you aint got that swing, you aint got a thing " .

    Followed by " dont get hung up on your feet, and forget how to dance ! "
  4. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    I guess the Cliffs Notes version is even further abbreviated! No Part 1! ;)
  5. Ithink

    Ithink Active Member

    Foot compression, another one of those "stock phrases" that everybody uses and nobody really explains. Coaches say "Apply foot pressure" but they don't say how, using what body parts or anything of the sort:( I am convinced they say it only because they heard it, in the same obscure context, from their own coaches and have no clue what exactly it entails. How exactly do you press your foot into the floor? By lowering, moving some other body part to exert said pressure, what?

    I believe what Some Guy described as "stepping back into your foot" does result in said foot pressure but just saying, oh well obviously you move by using foot pressure means absolutely nothing to me until you can explain how this foot compression is created within a human body. I've seen or heard noone give such an explanation excpet those that study Luca's theory of dance:(
  6. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    I am by no means a technician but when I was having the concept explained to me recently to improve my VW in particular, it was explained that I needed to allow myself to fall forward as much as possible before releasing my foot and that thepart of the foot that I would be using to really dig or grip into the floor would (as in latin) be the insided edge of the standing leg...then again, every thing I repeat should be filtered through the hazy cloud of ignorance
  7. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    Methinks you are looking for the proverbial " silver bullet ".... dont overthink the process.. its a natural action, created whenever you walk fwd.. the pressure you exert downwards as you flex the knee then straightening the leg as you employ the energy to propel you in a fwd direction, as the next step is taken ( the old " dancing is walking to music theory ).... a more vivid eg. may be running,.... the amount of energy expended thru each leg action , would be different in a marathon, than a sprint ( slows and quicks ).

    If we apply those same principles to Slows and Quicks in dance, it should start to become clear in the application of measured energy .

    Here,s a classic e.g of someone who dances faster than the music.. "they" are using a " running " principle to slow music.. thus not able to allocate the energy efficiently thru the rhythm as designated by the tempi for the variation being danced

    One my favorite sayings that was passed down to me, was this ..

    "minimum energy to create maximum efficiency " .
  8. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    thats the " pitch ".. the amount needs to be " measured " to suit the occasion.
  9. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

  10. Ithink

    Ithink Active Member

    Ah, finally other body parts get involved! I am not trying to overthink anything but telling a student to use foot pressure is somewhat akin to saying "oh, when you exercise all you do is lift the weight." There is a reason weight lifting is taught because merely telling someone to lift a weight (which too is just as natural as walking to us humans!) will not usually result in someone doing it correctly within their body so as to minimize injury and maximize effectiveness. These vague pronouncements by coaches can really hurt a student's progress, not to mention their body if as a result it's used incorrectly. The problem I see is that most coaches don't really think through what they are taught by their teachers (probably because they too are victim of stock phrases themselves!) in order to impart it with maximum clarity to their students. They merely quote... That is NOT good teaching!

    I floated in never-never-land for years until I discovered my current coach who explains how things are done instead of just quoting the masters and hoping I divine something magical out of it. She studies anatomy books, other movement theories, including sports, and imparts all that to her students. That is a good teacher!
  11. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    Not really. That may play a small role, but most of it is simply that having your weight forward of your foot causes gravity to accelerate you in a forwards direction.

    What you've described by the way is not kinetic energy, but potential energy, specifically energy stored in compliance (compression). That plays a small role, mostly because our muscles aren't very good at it. Potential energy stored in altitude plays a larger role. After the downswing, the potential energy is converted to kinetic energy - ie, body flight.

    The first role of the leg and foot action is not to create this, but to modulate it - turning a movement that if allowed to continue would have us crash to our knees, into a nice rounded out downswing.
  12. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

  13. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    Nope, it's physics. And it has nothing to do with pitch. The orientation of the body does not change substantially during the downswing, though traditionally it does during the upswing (should not be hard to figure out the reason for the difference).

    I suspect that I don't disagree with your physicists, but with your restating of what they probably said.

    When the stored energy is released to movement it becomes kinetic, but when it's stored in springiness (compression) or altitude it is potential.

    But you really can't store much energy in compression of muscles for the amounts of time involved. Very quick bounces yes, but not things as slow as the usual ballroom 'lowering'.
  14. pruthe

    pruthe Member

    I think the teacher/coach should be looking for that golden word, phrase, or analogy that turns on the light about a concept in the student's mind. But sometimes that does not happen. In that case, I think it is important for the student to continue asking the teacher questions until that light comes on. Which is really what you are doing here in questioning concepts from other DF members. Another thing to remember: Different people/teachers/coaches have different ideas/opinions. You have to make up your mind which one(s) you agree with. :)
  15. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

  16. Josh

    Josh Active Member

    Actually, gravity will cause you to accelerate in a downwards direction. It's the pressure down into the floor, coming from (1) flexed knees and lowering and (2) articulation of the ankle of the standing foot, that causes you to move along the horizontal plane in a forward direction. Of course gravity helps this, and both are important, I'm just prioritizing which is more important differently than you are.
  17. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    You don't need to change your leg or ankle at all for gravity to accelerate you in a direction that is initially much more forwards than it is downwards. It can't make you simply accelerate down, as your leg is mostly in the way of that, meaning that each little bit of down comes with a lot of forwards.

    However, as this progresses the path would get steeper and steeper. You don't want that, so gradually you change your leg (using knee and ankle) to make your path more horizontal than it would be if you did nothing. Basically, you must turn the natural overhand path into the desired underhand one.
  18. madmaximus

    madmaximus Well-Known Member

    No. 1 was a short description of the secrets to championship dancing, but really, who would want to read that kind of boring information?

    Simple, concise, profound...

    So I decided, nah, it wasn't worth passing on...


  19. Some guy

    Some guy New Member

    Ithink, I agree with you completely. Buzz words and catch-phrases are thrown around way too much. I remember the phrase "foot compression". It causes one to believe that it's an action, when indeed it's only a result of an action (Luca's school of thought). Too many times people teach "re-actions" (as Luca calls it) as actions. That messes up students to no end, some times permanently. One of my favorite coaches used to say, if the average dance coach was to teach a baby to walk, the baby will be able to walk fairly normally after about 18-years of training.

    My favorite buzz word was "energy". I loved how my previous coaches made me try to create "energy" by telling me to just stand in one place. You can imagine how puzzled I was!

    Pruthe, I agree with you too: a good coach will seek to turn a light on in the student's head. I'm not fond of those that just make a statement and walk away thinking they're great and they've done what is expected of them. Then when you tell them you didn't understand what they said, they look at your like you're stupid and keep repeating the buzz words. :)
  20. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    I have considerably less experience than the rest of those chatting up this thread, but whatever training I've had has been I think more in the Luca way of things than not. Consequently, I have zero discrimination between the two camps alluded to here. I enjoy - to a point - attempting to develop some understanding between the two. Alas, I think that can only come from doing over time.

    IAE, was thinking about ithink's musing about foot compression...
    I tend to pay far more attention to *hip* compression, without which it seems to me Luca's way would lose its power in a heartbeat. But with my feet I think of the weight that I have hopefully released from my muscles and allowed to pour down to the floor through my ankles, so the pressure I feel is a sensation of that weight returned to the ground. And then I think of my feet like hands turning a globe or sliding a lily pad along an oily surface. The released weight combined with that caressing aliveness seems to create that sense of pressure. And that's the sparkling aliveness I feel when I'm actually managing to pull myself toward a receiving foot or away from the standing leg.

    I know you all do these things better than I do, so seems silly to share but...I have been deeply inspired and helped many times by the Luca/GG way of things.

    Also, I know that Chris is right in that the Luca way appears to involve an arch. I think this is an illusion tho, not an arch of the back at all. It is a rotation of the torso up and back (having the effect of bringin it forward in the front and down in the back) coupled with a perfectly counterbalancing rotation of the hip down and up the back. The spine itself is not arched. The hips are relaxed and soft. Add the hip compression as you move forward with a deep crease in your thigh, a delay of your heel touching til the last possible moment as you extend (unroll) your leg, and then the aliveness of your toes pulling your body over the receiving leg and...that's my bastardized rendition of what I hear ithink wondering about...

    Certainly, don't look to my dancing as an example of it tho.

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