Ballroom Dance > Swing, Sway and Shaping

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by pygmalion, Jan 27, 2004.

  1. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    I had my first lesson with my new smooth coach yesterday, and we spent a gruelling but fun hour working on open left boxes. Rise and fall. Frame. Controlled lowering. Footwork. Getting into and out of dance position while looking like a champion. Fun, fun, fun! This guy is great. :D

    Anyway, so we worked extensively on something I've only touched before -- shaping. Aargh!

    Any tips or pointers on shaping in general, or, in particular, how to achieve that huge stretch through the sides. Are there exercises to do, or is it just a matter of practice in front of a mirror?

    I think I'm going to pull out my Jim and Jenelle tapes today! 8) :lol:
  2. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Woohoo! I found one of my old Heather Smith tapes -- techniques and muscular exercises for ladies -- that has some exercises in it. Seated and standing stretches to develop frame, shaping and top line. Will practice today, and post tomorrow. 8) :D
  3. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    I only had time to view about ten minutes of the video, but here are my thoughts so far. Good video, and reasonable exercises for finding your center, balance, and understanding blocks of weight. If you're going to practice this stuff, though, make sure you have a mirror handy. Since I'm new at this stuff, I can't feel the proper alignment yet. I have to look at it.
  4. IvyAB

    IvyAB Member

    This is something Larinda can help you with. From the little I've seen, and the huge amount of what I've heard, she's incredible at shaping. Larinda, any pointers you can give us? (high bar, shaping side, etc...)
  5. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Thanks, LauraB.

    I've spent the past couple days really working with my videos -- Heather Smith technique, Jim and Jenelle Maranto syllabus and technique. It still feels weird.

    I think I'm going to try a yoga class or two, as well. My obliaques are really stiff.
  6. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    High Bar? Shaping Sides? Wow, good job Laura.
    Okay, this is sooooo difficult to describe without bodies and mirrors to work with, but here goes.

    Stand facing flat to the mirror with feet shoulder width apart and arms up and gently curved in front of you. Swivel your feet and hips to the left, still looking at yourself in the mirror tilt your head to the left at about 45 degress and then look left. (your head should just feel like it is in a nice closed dance position)
    So now "front" is really to the left where your feet and head are pointing. Your left arm and rib cage is closer to the front, your right arm and rib cage is now considered to be on the side. This concept is called a "Dominant Side" or a "Progressive Side" (never confuse this with a "Side Lead" - that is a totally different concept used for a totally different purpose even though it may feel similar)
    So now you are ready to turn left. Make a slightly large three step turn, LRL - fwd back side, go slowly and keep your head turning into the rotation - do NOT left it fall out of that "dance position" until you see yourself again in the mirror. You should see yourself BEFORE the rest of our body gets there.
    As soon as you see your face in the mirror - stop the rotation of your head and feet but keep your body turning to the left. As your body turns under your head your head should gently roll to the same "dance posititon" but to the right of your body.
    Hopefully now you are in the exact opposite position that we started with (head and feet to the right and right arm/rib cage in front ) and are ready to turn right using the exact same sequence. Feet and head turn first, body turns next, feet and head stop first, body finishes last - setting you up for a shaped rotation to the other direction.

    The name "dominant side" or "progressive side" "shaped side" implys that the left side of our body was slightly in front/dominant and progressed fwd into the rotation. You don't want the dominant side to rotate backwards through the turn, that would be called negative or regressive rotation and you would not actually progress. (bad for smooth and standard) So if I am turning left my left side is always dominant, if I am turning right my right side is always dominant.
    "High Bar" is a visual concept to describe the feeling that when you shaped to the left in the beginning that you don't droop down and to the left. A pole vaulter hikes herself up and over the "high bar", as she gets to the high bar she has to keep pulling and shaping her body up and over, never letting her energy fall down. So now you know that your body should never pull backwards or droop down when rotating

    Okay so this is horribly simplified and may not make any sense. But this is really the basic concept underlying rotation that travels. The mirror-rotation excersize is what I give absolutly everyone as a starter movement to explore and practice dominate sides. And actually I do this early on in standard and smooth closed position, before anyone ever gets to explore the concept for open or apart turns. (actually even rhythm/latin closed position must follow these rules as well)

    As I read through through your questions you are asking more for physical excersizes, this is more a conceptual excersize so when your muscles get built up and stretched they can go in the right direction and give you something else to think about and work on...
  7. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member


    Thanks so much for taking the time and effort to post this. I printed it out to practice with, and it makes sense to me. Of course, it will take much, much practice before I look decent doing it. :oops: :lol:

    My coach, Rick, says thank you for being so nice, and he'll see you at the Heritage Classic in March.

    Thank you so much. :D

  8. msc

    msc New Member

    Here's a question for you, Jenn:

    How does the shaping influence rise and fall? Is it possible to generate rise and fall from shaping?

    And how does all that crazy swing and sway stuff relate to shaping?

    Actually, if you figure out the first question, the swing and sway stuff will actually start to make a lot of sense.
  9. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Hey! Don't you know you were recruited here to answer questions, not ask them? :lol: :lol: Just kidding.

    Actually, I've been thinking about just that and asked my coach yesterday. Only, I had so many questions that we didn't get to it.

    We got stuck on alignments -- he requires both lead and follow to know and understand them for all patterns (a great coach! :D ) And we covered foot rise versus body rise. I'm headed back to the gym -- now I understand what it looks like to really use your legs in smooth. They have to be flexible and strong.

    Anyway, so I'm still pondering swing, sway and shaping. Let me think on it, google of course, and I think I can figure it out. Either that, or cheat and ask my styling coach tomorrow! :lol: :lol:
  10. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    There was a parallel conversation in the swing forum that perhaps needs to get continued in ballroom. I'll bring over a couple pertinent quotes.

    Okay kids. Have fun!
  11. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    dnice is actually right in that some of the terminology is being used incorrectly. Such as the whole concept of pendulum swing, from a Classical Mechanics and Physics point of view, is terribly misused in the ballroom world. As are many other concepts.

    I have a student who is a physics professors. I looked up, met with and continued an email relationship with another physics professor turned ballet teacher who has written several books on physics and dancing. They both have been very insrumental in my growth as a dancer and a teacher in helping me to understand really what is going on with my body and how it interacts with other bodies, without relying on cliche concepts that seem to be everywhere.
  12. Genesius Redux

    Genesius Redux New Member

    LOL! The basic Physics concept I keep coming back to is the Uncertainty Principle. I'm often uncertain whether I'm doing it right.

    Thank you for your detailed posts. You rock!

  13. NeoDevin

    NeoDevin New Member

    Well here's one to tell the judge. Because of quantum mechanics you actually did everything right, since you take every possible path to any given position, but the judge could only see one path ;)

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