Ballroom Dance > Body Swing and Foot Placements

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

  1. Some guy

    Some guy New Member

    Wow Samina! I was blown away by your description!

    "And then I think of my feet like hands turning a globe or sliding a lily pad along an oily surface. " ... wow! [falls to knees and flops arms and body forwards to the floor]
  2. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    thank you, SG. :)
  3. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member

    If nothing else comes from this discussion, rereading this is time well spent, and dance well learned.
  4. Ithink

    Ithink Active Member

    Sam, first I am not really wondering about this as much as meaning all my questions to be somewhat rhetorical. I am just trying to show that the way things are "taught" by the majority view is not clear, not effective and creates more questions than it really answers. Well, it really doesn't answer questions as much as is just restates buzz words to anyone who will listen... I am not wondering because I am being taught by someone who thinks VERY highly of Luca's ideas;)

    As far as the spine/back arch, if you look at any anatomy book (as my coach has us do often), you will see that the human spine has a natural arch to it. The top of the spine and the bottom of the spine curves while the middle is straight. That is all you see when you see someone like Luca dance because his dancing is *natural*, comes from what the body does naturally and, thanks to years of evolution, quite efficiently and easily. People who teach the various iterations of "scooping your hips", "tucking your hips", "straightening your spine", etc. are taking away the naturalness of human movement. Watch anyone do martial arts or lift weights and tell me they do not have a curve in their back. If they didn't they'd risk seriously injuring themselves yet we're being taught to do that all the time when we dance! No wonder it would take years for a dance teacher to teach a baby to walk - they are battling evolution, lol.
  5. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    Yes, I understand where you're coming from...perhaps my word choice wasn't appropriate... "Wondering" was meant to suggest the rhetorical musing of the questions you posed...

    I won't argue that the spine curves naturally, but I will say that the torso & hip rotation I have described comes directly from Luca's own description of his use of alignment and balance when he dances and there is nothing jargony or I think misdirecting about it -- he describes it very clearly. And for me, it was not a natural thing to do. It *felt* natural when I started doing it, but I don't do it extremely enough as yet, with enuf stabilization, and that suggests to me it is not the most natural thing to do...even tho it feels good to do it.

    So...not sure, but it sounds like to say "Luca just does what's natural" is potentially another way to proliferate the vagueness it sounds like you want to avoid. I understood you wanted to hear something of mechanics and what the body is actually doing or sensing in order to achieve certain effects.
  6. Josh

    Josh Active Member

    Often when someone is told to "straighten the spine", it's quite literally because the person's spine is not "natural" ... a great dance posture may be the model of what the human body *should* look like, but that doesn't mean that that's what most of us have. Even removing the things that obviously harm the posture of most, like watching TV, driving, etc., there's just the natural course of life that wears down on a 'perfect' body. This is why it takes years to develop pristine dance posture, because even if we're built the right way, it doesn't mean we stay that way after a few years of life. I understand your point ithink, but while good dancing is actually very natural, it doesn't mean that we are automatically there.
  7. Josh

    Josh Active Member

    I also used to balk at the word "energy" ... this was before I actually felt something energetic in my body when I dance. If you've never felt that *something* when you dance, then you've been missing out. Some call it "energy," some call it a "vibe," and others would call it something else. When a coach uses the word "energy" he or she is trying to tap into something in your dancing beyond musculature and anatomy. Maybe it's not the right word for you, but it works for many people, and it leads to a mental change, which always effects a physical change. You're saying, I believe, that this, as nice as it may be, should not be a substitute for a proper physical explanation of what's going on, and I totally agree--but its use in and of itself can be quite effective as long as the student is willing to explore his or her own psyche a bit.
  8. Ithink

    Ithink Active Member

    OK, fair enough, I don't want to be vague... I agree that you are not arching your back for the sake of the back; BUT the torso and hip rotations he describes to achieve that stabilized look, I think, *are* a result of a natural curve of the spine we all have and the reason that position, when achieved, feels so stabilized and "natural". Rotating your torso and hips simply conforms to the natural shape of the spine an efficiently moving body should take on. He doesn't "just do" what's natural but the description of what to do to achieve balance and stability achieves a look that is natural to the body in the first place. Not sure if that's better stated, but that's what I've got:)
  9. Josh

    Josh Active Member

    Your direction is initially much more forward than downwards because of the floor connection. Lose the floor connection and you'll go ker-plunk. Gravity always pulls down.

    Your text (bolded) explains exactly my point.
  10. skwiggy

    skwiggy Well-Known Member


    The only thing that's silly is doubting the value of your contribution to the discussion. Wasn't there a thread awhile back about how the followers on this board are too hesitant to share and we all lose out because of it?

    Thank you for your valuable contribution. I enjoyed reading it and learned from it. :D
  11. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    i absolutely agree. and you're reminding me of how mind-blowing it was, what an enormously relieving paradigm-shift i experienced, when i watched the dance bible for the first time and began to make alignment adjustments in my body. it was such a wondrous thing...

    previously, i'd been focusing on straightening my spine all along the back, tucking my pelvis under... and had constant and unrelievable tension in my neck, back, and shoulders. my neck was always cracking, as well.

    then, when i saw that luca stands with his torso forward and with a curve in his spine that seemed the antithesis of everything i had read & heard from dance & yoga sources, i tried it out in my own body, adding the rotations we've discussed as a slight adjustment, as a way to allow the body to rest. i experienced an *instant* relaxation and improvement in my balance. i remember rushing downstairs at work to show my dancer-colleague what i'd "discovered", and he beheld it with the same amazement. was very exciting. and here i was finding something for first time that really was truly "natural" in how my body wanted to stand. the neck cracking stopped and never returned, and the first tier of tension that bound my back was also permanently removed.

    since then, as i've been working with this, i've found it very interesting that these rotations -- which affect the heart area & the base of the spine area, two body centers with enormous energy implications in kundalini yoga -- require the cultivation and release of other energies which appear to me to fall into the category of "natural forces", but which are very uncommonly tapped into (or perhaps tapped into...but without awareness).

    i think this is a common theme for ballroom uncover the experience and use of natural forces that are not naturally used or experienced.
  12. madmaximus

    madmaximus Well-Known Member


    Very Nice...

    [I dance a modified version of this. Among others I use very little hip compression]

  13. Ithink

    Ithink Active Member

    My coach keeps comparing Luca's movement to how a martial artist moves. I watched his foxtrot demo on Youtube to specifically see what she means and it really does sorta looks like he's doing tai chi - so calm, graceful and totally balanced!
  14. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    So you realized it is a lower back arch in the spine after all, and not just an illusion as you were calling it yesterday?
  15. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    exactly...i think of him the same way. and have made the same correlation between ballroom & tai chi.

    in fact, watching luca has similarly inspired me to play with my own ballroom-based "tai chi" or quigong movements to find increased quietude & balance. the logistics of my life continue to keep me away from the practice floor, but i always have my body & my breathe with me, so i figure i might as well seize every moment as i can.
  16. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    the torso and the hips are both anatomically "hinged" at opposite ends of the spine & have their independent rotation. it is my experience that their concurrent rotation -- like dialing knobs away from each other -- is the source of the powerful arch you referred to.

    as to how i saw luca's torso resting more forward, with a curve in his spine... that is more along the lines of the "natural curve" that ithink was describing.

    these are two separate things. one is a natural stance, one is adopted to achieve the mechanics of the standard style of dance. at least, that's my take on it.
  17. Ithink

    Ithink Active Member

  18. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    What's interesting here from a ballroom perspective is that while the challenging body configurations which the author objects to that are used in ballet are used for aesthetic reasons, the challenging positions used in ballroom, such as the feather of the hips in outside partner position or the knees veering in tendency are there to functionally enable movement in proximity to another body.

    That suggests that ballet could improve its body mechanics by changing it's aesthetic somewhat. In ballroom though, to change some of what we do we'd have to abandon the idea of closed hold.
  19. Some guy

    Some guy New Member

    Sorry Josh, I should've been clearer: the word "energy" made no sense to me at the time. My teacher kept harping on it and it never got through to me. Now, a few years later, after changing coaches and finding ones that actually tell you HOW to do stuff instead of just telling you to do stuff I've come to love the word "energy", and I have to restrain myself in order to avoid using it any chance I get. When I try to help beginners I catch myself wanting to say "energy" and the few times I let it slip they give me the same blank stare I gave my coach at the time. I think I'm just going to start using "the force" instead. I can just imagine the look of a someone's face when I tell them, "you must stretch out with your feelings!". :cool:
  20. Josh

    Josh Active Member


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