Learning to be lighter on my feet

Discussion in 'General Dance Discussion' started by Mr. Dance, Mar 24, 2006.

  1. Mr. Dance

    Mr. Dance New Member

    See I told you all I'd be asking alot of questions ;)

    Anywho, my background in dance up until I began about 3 months ago was nothing more than going to a club and tossing back a couple few drinks and going out onto the dance floor and probably looking nothing short of ridiculous :rolleyes:.

    Since Ive started in Ballroom dance Ive been committed 100% from the get go and love every second of it, and one of the things Ive come to realize is the importance of being light on my feet. It's not something Im used to so Im having to learn it as I go so any advice you can offer would be greatly appreciated on how to go about getting better at being light on my feet and not so heavy in some of my steps. My partner tells me I seem to really pick up well on the dances and I look very natural for someone who's not been doing it very long but Im looking to improve myself in every way possible.
     
  2. It's Wonderful

    It's Wonderful New Member

    One thing that helped me was to think about pushing into the floor with each step. I find that it prevents me from "falling" into my steps, which gives that heavy feeling. Instead, by pushing into the floor with my standing foot to power into the next movement, I have much more control. And of course it is a more natural motion than sticking a foot out and falling onto it ;)
     
  3. latingal

    latingal Moderator Staff Member

    Hey Matt,

    I think that the articulation of the foot and ankle and the articulation of the weight through the foot are really important in being "light" on your feet.

    It's the idea of not only controlling the muscles in your feet/ankle but also having enough body control and awareness of your body weight to be able to place or roll the weight where you want it over or on the foot.

    Where do you learn to do this? Well I learned it in ballet, but there are exercises you can do from ballet that will help if you don't want to take a full class.
     
  4. Mr. Dance

    Mr. Dance New Member

    Im not sure I'd be able to take a full ballet class at the present time but if u can shed some light on the subject for me and perhaps offer up a some exercises or techniques to work on in the mean time, I'd appreciate it. :)
     
  5. latingal

    latingal Moderator Staff Member

    Ooooh, this might be a long post....:shock:

    Let me offer up one exercise first and maybe we can go from there.

    This exercise will help you to be aware of how to articulate your feet and your ankles and also help you work on balance (control of your weight over your feet).

    Stand with you feet together with good posture facing a ledge, table edge, or something that comes up to about your waist height or so. Very lightly rest your fingertips on the ledge (or whatever). Commence a slight lean with your core area - but keeping good posture with the rest of your upper body over your core - to put the weight into the balls of your feet. Slowly rise to the balls of your feet, think of splitting energy from your core into energy up through your spine/top of your head to the ceiling and energy down through your legs into the floor. That will help you keep good posture and balance. Keep your core activated through this entire exercise (my ballet teacher always says "belly button to spine"!). While rising you may want to gently lift your fingertips off the ledge to test your balance. Remember, doing this slowly, say to a count of 4 or 6, will strengthen your ankles and feet and give you an awareness of control and balance over your feet.

    Once on balls of both feet, keeping good posture, bend the knees forward a bit (not down!), keeping the hips over the heels (and tailbone straight down). The position your feet are in at this point is called a forced arch, a very important skill in ballroom! Straighten back up. Then start to drop the right heel slowly to the floor, feeling the articulation of rolling the right foot down through the ball, through the middle of the foot and lastly the heel onto the floor (the weight will stay over the ball of the foot though). The left foot should still only have the ball of the foot/toes on the floor with the left knee bent and right knee straight. Then start to lift the right heel back off the floor, through the middle of the foot back to the ball of the foot (again feeling the articulation through the right foot), you should be back on both balls of feet with the knees straight. Repeat with the left foot, then right foot, left foot than right foot.

    You must do the articulation slowly enough to feel the muscles in your feet working (I feel it in the undersides of my feet). This not only stretches the feet/ankles, but warms them up and can strengthen them. Also, remember to only lightly use the ledge for balance (you can lightly tap the ledge while doing this exercise to make sure you are not using it too much for balance).

    Remember the goal is being able to roll through your feet, I think alot of dancers who are heavy on their feet plop the foot down flat or can't control their body weight enough to roll through their feet.

    Okay, let me know if you want more....
     
  6. AzureDreamer

    AzureDreamer New Member

    I do a lot of tap dance as well.

    I think (for a guy especially) its a really good counterbalance to partner dancing, because its just you and the music... sometimes dance is better shared, but sometimes I just need to dance for myself, get lost in the movement and the music.

    but tap very good on foot speed, articulation... but also a LOT of emphasis on interpretting the music. (I also find tap 100 times harder than partner dancing... its a real challenge too.)
     
  7. Mr. Dance

    Mr. Dance New Member

    Alright latingal , im gonna print this out and use it this afternoon and I'll let you know how it works out. How often do you do this exercise, I assume every practice, or everyday in general ?

    Thanks for the great info everyone, keep it coming !
     
  8. cl5814

    cl5814 New Member

    ok, i tried the exercise and it is a bit difficult. I find that i can't quite roll through the middle part of my foot. I have a natural raised arch, but it feels like i go from ball to heel without feeling the middle part roll. I tried it barefoot and it feels better. Guess, it is meant to be practiced barefoot.

    Where in dancing are you supposed to roll through your feet ? How is it different from latin to standard ? Do you roll through your foot on every step forwards ? ( I heard that i am suppose to roll through my feet in quickstep class, but never quite implemented it). When you dance, where is most of your weight (as you feel it in your foot) supposed to be placed ? In the middle, i assume.
     
  9. Mr. Dance

    Mr. Dance New Member

    I just got back from class this alittle bit ago and I tried this a few times. I can feel the roll the way you described it. It is easier to feel it in socks or bare feet as opposed to shoes..but since you cant dance in socks ;) Im figuring as I do it more I'll be able to feel it better in shoes.

    Is the idea to try and push down on the arch of your foot as you roll towards the ball of your foot and then back to heel?
     
  10. latingal

    latingal Moderator Staff Member

    Sorry, about that I should have specified in my post....yes! do this exercise in bare feet, socks or ballet slippers. You will then be able to feel all the parts in your feet. Once you are aware of these muscles you will be able to better control your feet even in shoes...

    You'll end up using your feet this way everywhere. I don't think I can come up with an example in latin or standard where you're supposed to put your foot down flat (though I'm sure there must be one somewhere). It's always toe-heel, heel-toe, or toe. The exercise helps you control your weight over the different parts of your feet.

    But if you want an example...think rumba walks when transferring the weight from the back foot to the forward foot. You "roll through" the back foot, the heel comes off and you use the muscles in your feet to push forward to a pointed turned out foot/hip. The forward leg is a toe-heel step and you will step on your ball and roll very slightly to your heel (depending on the height of your heels etc.), it is important to have body weight control to get the weight on the ball first and then lower to the heel (not clunk down on a flat foot).

    In standard, you use this rolling through the foot and ankle in many of the steps. This is one of the factors of getting good "drive" in your steps. It would take me forever to try to describe it to you...just watch a really good standard dancer's supporting foot/ankle as they take a heel lead forward, you will see them roll through the ankle/foot.

    That depends on the specific dance and step....
     
  11. SPratt74

    SPratt74 New Member

    Now it's to bad that you didn't come here earlier, because we could have warned you not to pay any attention to Master P! (My sister does the perfect impression of Master P.) Hehe... sorry, but you just reminded me of Master P and how heavy he was on his feet. Me when I first started, I felt like I was a little kid stomping all over the place lol. I remember going home telling everyone that I felt like Master P, and they all laughed lol! So, I think that you will get lighter on your feet within time. Just be patient! :eek:
     
  12. Mr. Dance

    Mr. Dance New Member

    Oh God I hope I dont look THAT bad on the dance floor now. :lol: DancinGirl can vouge either way though but I definately try my best to look as light and effortless as possible.

    I know everything comes with time and patience and hard work. I dont mind the time or the hard work, Im just not very patient with myself when Im learning something new :rolleyes:;)
     
  13. latingal

    latingal Moderator Staff Member

    Yes! Also, as you get better at rolling through your foot (and your feet and ankles become stronger), it should become a natural action and you will barely feel it at all when dancing - it'll just happen....

    I really don't think of pushing down on the arch of the foot, that might lead to over pronation of the foot (and I'm flat footed so that is really bad!). I feel it more in the middle/outer underside edge when pushing up or down.

    I hope this is helpful...I find when people are "heavy" on their feet it normally means that they haven't learned to place the weight on the ball of their front foot and roll softly to the heel, so you get a flat footed, clomping effect. Is this what you are trying to remedy?
     
  14. latingal

    latingal Moderator Staff Member

    I use it to warm up and warm down when dancing (warm down because it helps stretch the feet back out after a tough day in heels). You can also add a "demi-plie" (gently bend knees forward, with good posture, with heels on ground) in parallel position at the end of the exercise to stretch out the calf and ankle muscles.
     
  15. Mr. Dance

    Mr. Dance New Member

    hhmmm, good point, I think I understand it alittle better now.. I'll keep working at it and see how it goes and let you know. Thanks!!! I can see where you mean about it leading to over pronation of the foot, because if I force myself to push down too much on the arch of my foot it seem alittle extreme and not very graceful.


    I don't think I have a real issue with clomping per say although Im sure I need to work on it to some degree. Im conscious of trying to put my weight on the ball of my foot but the rolling back to the heel and rolling forward to the front of my foot to make it look more fluent and proper, I think is what Im trying to master. So maybe I am "clomping" and don't really realize it ?
     
  16. latingal

    latingal Moderator Staff Member

    Yes, you don't want it to be un-natural, it's really about feeling the muscles working in the feet to lower and lift the heel smoothly.

    Sounds like you've got it! This rolling through the feet in combination with controlling your weight over your feet will allow your dance steps to flow!

    Please do let me know how it's going...It's great that you are willing to work on the "details" that will help your dancing!
     
  17. Mr. Dance

    Mr. Dance New Member

    Thanks for the 411 latingal, I appreciate the advice very much..and from everyone else as well for helping out us newcomers to become better by benefiting from your experience.

    We've got our next practice on monday afternoon so Im gonna work on this continually and see if I can start to notice a difference as I continue to work at it.
     
  18. latingal

    latingal Moderator Staff Member

    :D Good luck Matt!
     
  19. DancinGirl

    DancinGirl New Member

    You are FAR from Master P, Matt!

    We can work on the foot rolling during practice today...I learned to do it in marching band back in high school. It does become more natural the more you do it and in fact, its how I walk all the time now, except when I'm in heels, and I'm not even thinking about it. I can also help you with the demi-plie latingal was talking about if you're not sure how to do one.
     
  20. SPratt74

    SPratt74 New Member

    Lol! I had forgotten about marching band days and oh you are so right! You would think that I would be better at this feet thing because of band, but I had forgotten everything! But yeah, we did learn that in marching band. Goodness.

    Memories of the way we were... Memories... :cool:
     

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