Sharing The Joy Of Dancing


.The standard bicycle has a physical stop that limits the amount of turn that the handle bar can rotate. This limits the turn radius of the bicycle for safety reasons. If you try to turn as sharp as you can, your handle bar will hit this stop. This concept is very useful in Ballroom Dancing. It applies primarily to the "Follower's" movement in relationship to the "Leader". (I really dislike the terms "Leader" and "Follower" but in this instance, it makes the topic easier to describe.)

There is a tendency for the "Follower" to move to a specific spot when dancing a dance "Element". This limits the ability of the "Leader" to perform variable and unexpected movements. For example, when dancing a Waltz "Back Hover" ("Hover 3", "Open Impetus") the standard states: "starts backing line of dance and ends facing diagonal center" (Leaders part). The "Follower" knowing this, dances to the diagonal center spot. What if the floor is occupied at the diagonal center spot? The "Leader" is now stuck because the "Follower" danced to that specific spot. What if instead, the "Follower" continued moving "FOREVER" instead of to that specific spot? The "Leader" now has the option of overturning the "Hover" to end up facing down line of dance and avoiding the occupied space. The "Leader" is the "bicycle physical stop". The "Follower" continues the movement until The "Leader" stops it. If the "Follower" stops the movement as specified by the elements definition, the "Leader" loses control and can't overturn the element. In the perfect world, the "Leader" controls how much the "Follower" moves. Let the partnership physicality stop your motion; don't try to guess where to stop. The "Follower" needs to be predictable by always moving "Forever". Don't dance to a specific spot.

The above is a Smooth/Standard dance example. This action applies to Latin/Rhythm dancing as well. The Latin (Cuban) Motion hip action is governed by these same bicycle stops. I like to imagine that the body has a "Lazy Susan" sitting on top of the hips. This allows the upper body and lower part of the body to rotate separately. Let's look at a Rumba "Cross Body Lead" element with a quick turn. The action of the "Cross Body Lead" causes the ladies upper body to rotate first and then the lower part of the body catches up slightly later. Ladies typically stop the lower body hip rotation too soon. As the hips rotate, allow the "Lazy Suzan" to continue moving until it hits the stops naturally. The "Cucaracha" dance element has this same type of action.

The "Side Basic" dance element in "Ballroom Two Step" has a slightly different adaptation of the "handle bar stops". The "Side Basic" has a pendulum swinging movement side-to-side. In this example, gravity is acting as the "stop". Allow gravity to change the direction of the pendulum movement instead trying to muscle the change of direction.

In the West Coast Swing "Sugar Push" pattern, the "stops" concept allows the "Leader" to control and change the direction of the movement of the "Follower". Ladies very often stop and change direction on their own. The lady must continue to move forward and let the "stop", stop her movement and change her direction.

Most of this article has been focused on the "Follower", but it is very important that the "Leader" be aware and participates in the "bicycle stop" inter-action. This "handle bar" action creates a positive physical interaction between the partners. This results in more control of the partnerships movement. The goal is for the partnership to act as a "Singularity" and this action contributes to that end.