Sharing The Joy Of Dancing

BODIES/LEGS AND STEPS??


Understanding "Bodies/Legs" and "Steps" are two of the most important concepts in Ballroom Dancing. These are the foundation for Standard/Smooth and Latin/Rhythm movment. They define the unique differences between these two types of dancing. Standard/Smooth dancers have different "Bodies/Legs" than Latin/Rhythm dancers. The "Steps" are also different between Standard/Smooth dancers and Latin/Rhythm dancers. For this discussion, the Ballroom Dancer has only two physical parts, the "Body" and the "Legs".

The Standard/Smooth "Body" is defined as everything from the hip sockets and up (to the top of the head). The "Legs" are defined as everything from the hip sockets and down (to the floor). The "Legs" move only from the hip sockets. The "Body" is not part of the "Leg" movement. The Standard/Smooth "Body" remains "still" during movements but there is what I call a "Lazy Suzan" action at the bottom of the rib cage that allows rotation between the upper half and the lower half of the "Body". This accomadates "Promenade Dance Position". The "Lazy Suzan" action prevents any bending of the "Body" through the rib cage as well.

Many dancers are unaware of the "Lazy Susan" action and therefore turn their whole bodys open when going to "Promenade Dance Position". This compromises the partnership. The "Lazy Susan" action allows the top of the "Body" to open more to "Promenade Dance Position" than the lower part of the "Body" and maintains the proper partnership position.

The Latin/Rhythm "Body" is defined as everything from the bottom of the rib cage and up (to the top of the head). The "Legs" are defined as everything from the bottom of the rib cage and down (to the floor). The Latin/Rhythm "Body" remains "still" during movements but also contains an internal rhythm that is different than the rhythm in the "Legs". The "Bodys" internal rhythm does not match the Latin/Cuban motion rhythm of the "Legs". It is a more suttle, strong, and powerful feeling rhythm.

The "Legs" contain the soft muscle area between the bottom of the rib cage to the top of the hips, the whole hip area, the upper and lower legs, the knees, the ankles and the feet. Just as you can rotate your arms from your shoulder down to your hands, you can rotate your "Legs" from the bottom of your rib cage down to your feet. This is where all of the Latin/Cuban motion occurs.

Many dancers only dance Latin/Cuban motion from the hips down. This severely limits the Latin/Cuban motion rotation. They are loosing all of the flexability from the bottom of the rib cage to the top of the hips. Latin/Cuban motion starts from the bottom of the rib cage and goes clear to the floor. The quiter the "Body", the more the Latin/Cuban motion is exagerated.

Even though the Standard/Smooth and the Latin/Rhythm "Bodies" are described as being "still", it doesn't mean that the "Bodies" are stiff or frozen. The "Bodies" are alive. They breathe and feel and stretch and rotate, etc.

The Ballroom Dance communities use the definition of a "Step" as: "A complete weight change from one foot to another". This is true in general, but the "Step" in Standard/Smooth dancing is different than a "Step" in Latin/Rhythm dancing. The definition has to be expanded to more accurately describe a "Step" for both Standard/Smooth dancing and Latin/Rhythm dancing.

The Standard/Smooth "Step" is defined as a complete weight change from one foot to the other with the new free foot closing to the supporting foot. The feet are together at the conclusion of the "Step". Both the "Body" and the "Legs" move to the new supporting foot. The exception to this rule is "Promenade Dance Position" (the feet are apart, about shoulder width at the end of the "Step"). The Standard/Smooth "Steps" may have "Heel", "Flat" or "Ball" footwork.

The Latin/Rhythm "Step" is defined as a complete weight change from one foot to the other with the new free foot staying in place (open). The feet are apart at the conclusion of the "Step". The "Body" moves to the new supporting foot but the now free foot stays open. The open position of the feet exagerates the Latin/Cuban motion hip action. The Latin/Rhythm "Steps" may have "Ball" or "Flat" footwork only.

It is the combination of the "Body/Legs" and the "Steps" that creates the unique characteristics of each dance. The Latin/Rhythm "Body/Legs" and "Steps" develops very different physical actions and movements than the Standard/Smooth "Body/Legs" and "Steps".

Once you understand and implement the different "Body/Legs" and "Steps" of Standard/Smooth and Latin/Rhythm dancing, your Ballroom Dancing will improve immensely.