Sharing The Joy Of Dancing


Many dancers are not aware that they even have a "focus" while they dance. Most dancers are not aware of its existence. It just seems to be automatically built in. Whose focus are we talking about and what does "focus" mean? It's the focus of both the leader and follower. My definition of focus is "the dancer's immediate goal" (usually a destination) while dancing. Dancers need to be aware of the focus and make a conscious decision of what it should be.

The focus I am talking about affects the feelings created by your dancing. The feelings are the unique four-legged feelings that are the heart of partnership dancing. Dancers have a tendency to skip right by the most feeling part of the partnership movement. It can be compared to going to a movie. When you go to a movie, you don't focus on paying for the ticket to get into the theater and you don't focus on getting out of the building, your main focus is on the story line, the audio and the visual presentation of the movie. If the focus is not viewing the movie, you are just wasting your time going in and out of the theater.

This is exactly how many dancers focus. Let's look at a "forward hover (hover one) element" in Silver Waltz (from the leader's point of view). This could just as well be a "forward progressive element" in Bronze/Beginning Waltz. The first movement is a heel step that supplies the power for the element. The second step of the movement, rises (flat/toe), the partnership changes from closed dance position to promenade dance position, the partners create a counter balance action for the direction change and a stretching action and the lady's head changes position. The third step of the movement completes the "forward hover element" by simply opening the legs and stepping toe/flat then closing the feet. Please note that this is a very simplistic description of the "forward hover element".

Leaders typically focus on the third step of the hover, the completion of the element. Men in general, seem to get focused on the completion of the task (the element). As seen by the description above most of the action/feeling is generated during the second step. The focus on the completion of the element negates the ability to fully feel and experience all of the four-legged feelings that should be generated during the second step. If you are always focused on exiting the theater, you will never get to enjoy the movie. A change of focus of the leader from finishing the element to enjoying the middle of the element, will allow the partnership to experience all of the four-legged feelings the element was designed to create.

This phenomenon is not limited to the leader. The follower is likely to have this tendency as well. Followers can have the focus of trying to identifying the element, then completing it without any further participation of the leader, whereby by-passing all the four-legged feelings the leader is trying to generate. The follower's focus should be to dance every single step, what they feel, not dancing the whole element.

The leader and follower need to have the same focus, otherwise, one or the other will force the partnership through the element without the desired feelings. If both are focused on the completion of the element, the partnership tends to dance faster and faster.

This problem is very typical of "pattern dancers". "Pattern dancers" dance their side of the pattern pretty much independent of the other side of the partnership. This causes the focus to be the completion of the element instead of trying to feel the four-legged movement of the element.

Once you understand that there is a "focus", the next step is to move the "focus" to the place where the most of feeling resides. In this case, it is on the second step where all of the action happens. Try to stay on the feeling step longer even though you may think you may not be with the music. Changing your focus in this manner will eventually readjust the point of the most feeling and you will find that the music problem will not exist.