Sharing The Joy Of Dancing

WHAT DOES A NEW DANCER NEED TO KNOW? - II


The new dancer needs to understand that there is no comparison between the man's role and the women's role in Ballroom Dancing. New dancers typically begin dancing by taking Ballroom Dance Group Lessons. If this is true, the new dancer will get the impression that the man's and woman's roles are very similar. This couldn't be farther from the truth.

Ballroom Dance Group Lessons are designed to teach Ballroom Dance Foot Patterns. "This is the foot sequence for the lady and also the foot sequence for the man." The implication is that each partner is doing their identical part at the same time as their partner. Normally, there is very little taught about partnership, leading, footwork and feeling. This makes it difficult for dancers that aren't taught the same patterns, to dance with each other.

In the perfect world, the man initiates, plans, directs, shapes, powers, creates feeling, etc., etc. The lady dances one step at a time, what she can feel. She responds, interprets, enhances, embellishes, amplifies, powers, modifies, etc., etc. The goal is for the man to create an environment where the lady moves very naturally. The man can move unnaturally to create her natural movement because he is developing the complete movement.

If the new dancer never takes a Private Lesson, he or she may never realize that there is so much more to Ballroom Dancing than just foot pattern sequences. Dancers that take only Group Lessons will soon become what I refer to as "Pattern Dancers". They never get to the real dancing. Dancing is actually . Each dance has a unique "character" (look, feel and music). This character is defined by the music and by the physical movement of the partnership. I always tell my students: "If a deaf person were to watch you dance, he or she should be able to tell which dance you are dancing just by your physical movement".

Most dances have a "BOX STEP" pattern. The "Slow Waltz Box" and the "Rumba Box" patterns, for example, have the same geometric foot pattern. What makes one Slow Waltz and the other Rumba? What does the deaf person see that makes the box pattern a Slow Waltz or a Rumba? Footwork is a key ingredient in developing the "character" of a dance. The Slow Waltz timing is 1, 2, 3. The Slow Waltz utilizes "heel" footwork on the 1st forward step, "ball" footwork on the 2nd side step, and "ball/flat" footwork on the 3rd together step. This creates a rise and fall action which is unique to Slow Waltz (Viennese Waltz has footwork which results in no rise and fall action at all.). The Rumba timing is Slow, Quick, Quick (1-2, 3, 4). All of the Rumba steps have "ball/flat" footwork. This ball/flat footwork results in short steps and develops the Latin/Cuban Motion (hip action).

In the above description, the deaf person sees the 1, 2, 3 timing and the rise and fall action of the dance partnership. This is recognizable as Slow Waltz. The deaf person can also see the Slow, Quick, Quick timing and the Latin Motion of the Rumba dance partnership. The actions between the steps in the two dances are very different and easy to recognize as different dances.

Private Lessons are designed to teach the dancer what happens between the steps and the responsibility of each partner among many other aspects of Ballroom Dancing. Most of what is taught in Private Lessons requires "hands on" the dancer. Ultimately, Private Lessons teach "FEELING" not just mechanics. The goal is to dance by "feeling", not just move through a series of mechanical sequences.

The Ballroom Dance Partnership (eventually a Singularity) is not made up of two identical functioning parts (partners). Each side is very different and has very different functions and responsibilities as part of a single moving entity.