Sharing The Joy Of Dancing


Ballroom Dancing is by definition, the movement of a partnership of two people (a two-headed four-legged animal). The goal is to create a four-legged animal that acts and moves as a single entity. This two-headed four-legged animal grows and evolves just as any other living being. It is important that the complete body of each partner is involved in the movement of this entity.

Ballroom Dancing is generally developed from the floor up. Initially, the partners learn the footwork geometry for a particular foot pattern. Usually a sequence of foot patterns is taught to allow continuous movement. After each person has learned the geometry of a pattern, the concept of executing the pattern with a partner is introduced. At this point each person is just moving through the pattern they have learned in front of each other.

Once the partners are somewhat comfortable with the pattern geometry, there is more focus put on each person's physical relationship to the partnership. The two-headed four-legged animal is starting to develop. Things like frame, connection, offset, body position, etc. are starting to solidify the partnership. This allows the partnership to more freely move through the foot patterns. Each partner is starting to get a sense that they are not moving through the patterns alone.

You may have noticed that I have been very careful to not use the term "DANCING" when describing the partner's actions up until now. Dancing is not merely moving through foot patterns while being in near proximity of another person as the music plays. My definition is: "Dancing is what happens between the steps". Foot patterns are just foot patterns. All of the good stuff (the FEELING) happens between the steps.

An example would be a "Box Step" pattern. Most dances have a "Box Step". The "Box Step" geometry is basically the same in all of the dances. In Slow Waltz, the "Box Step" is danced with a 1, 2, 3 timing and has a traveling Rise and Fall action. In Rumba, it is danced with a Slow, Quick, Quick timing and the movement is primarily through the hip action called "Latin Motion" or "Cuban motion" and is generally danced in place. In Foxtrot, it is danced with a Slow, Quick, Quick timing and the movement is very even, smooth, and level as it travels. In Samba, the box is danced with a 1, Ah, 2 timing and the movement has a pendulum action.

As you can see from the above description, the "Box Step" pattern is basically the same in all of the dances. The character of the dance (what makes the boxes different from dance to dance) is what is happening between the steps. It is the footwork of the box, the timing, and the movement action. Dancers who have nothing going on between the steps, I call "Pattern Dancers". The character of the dance does not exist in their movements.

So far I have only talked about what is going on with each individual person. Now there is the partnership to consider. In addition to of all of the above, the partnership is required to unite the individuals into the infamous "two-headed four-legged animal". The partnership action allows the bodies of the two individuals to become involved.

There are two rhythms involved in Ballroom Dancing, Foot Rhythm and Body Rhythm. The foot rhythm is basically the beat of the music and the Body rhythm is more like the melody of the music. Most dancers never get beyond the feet and the body remains DEAD. The best way to get the body involved is to feel with your body. Typically we feel with our hands, but in Ballroom Dancing the hands are occupied with the frame connection. Energize your body and allow it to feel your partner's body and at the same time allow your partner to feel your body. Allow the bodies in the partnership to be alive (a living breathing entity). There is so much missing when you dance with someone that has a dead body.

Many dancers, dance only with their feet. Get the bodies of the partnership involved. Dancers focus so much on footwork, dance position, partnership, patterns, etc. that they never get to the body. Ballroom Dancing is a complete body action. NO MORE DEAD BODIES.