New Content: Ask an Instructor

Instructional videos are great, but one of their drawbacks is if something I explain doesn't work for you, you're kind of stuck. I mean, it's not like you can replay the video, and I will magically explain it differently. Or can you?

Well no, no you can't. But this is the next best thing! The "Ask an Instructor" series is a new monthly video program I'll be releasing, in which I answer - with demonstrations - any dance-related question you have. How do you ask these questions? That's the subject of this video:

New Content: Vote for Your Videos!

We can't just come to your home and teach you directly (you probably prefer it that way), so we're giving SBD members the next best thing - the option to control what videos are made next by voting for them!

Every month, votes will be tallied up, and winning dances will have new videos released for them in the following month... So long as they aren't winning every month anyway 😉

Here's how it works:

Dance Partner Tricks for Connecting

Dance Partner Tricks

So, you still want more? Now that we’ve used our new connecting skills with our simple leads and follows, let’s delve into some of the advanced dance partner tricks that will give your connection a special smoothness and fluidity.

A phone line of arms

Say you’ve two pieces of rope of different lengths, each attached to a separate weight. If you yank on both ropes simultaneously, which weight moves first? The shorter one will, because it’s on a tighter leash. Likewise, our responsiveness to our partner increases with more ‘tightness’ or tension in our frame - specifically our arms and shoulders. Too much tension can cause jerky dancing however, so keep just enough softness in the frame to smooth out the movement.

Pressure: give as good as you get

I sometimes think of the leader as a swimmer, and the follower as the water around the leader.

Dance Partner Tricks
Just one more reason for ballroom dance to become an olympic sport. Am I right folks?

Like water, the follower gives way for the leader, but she doesn’t let him push through her without resistance. This kind of lead might be called directional pressure, because both are moving in the same direction.

Another kind, oppositional pressure, causes leader and follower to move away or towards each other. In either case, the follower still resists the pressure initially, like a coiled spring that compresses and releases.

Do the robot!

This dance partner trick borrows from the robot dance, so-called because it involves freezing parts of your body, so they move together in a stiff, robotic kind of way.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_T81uUeZcM[/youtube]

We also must freeze parts of our body to move together - for instance, no underarm turn would feel comfortable if our upper body turned first, dragging the legs and feet behind it. In most cases, tightening the core helps upper and lower body to move together (although there is twisting in Cuban motion). Direction changes are fed to the body through the frame, which is also locked up by tightening the shoulder muscles to reduce sideways movement (but not up-down movement). The frame way sometimes widen or narrow, only but only for styling purposes - staying connected is more important.

Goldfish vs Selfish

If the hardest dance partner trick for followers is to become an unthinking goldfish, the hardest trick for the leader is to be selfish. Example: leaders often try to ‘help’ followers do open breaks by extending their arms to push them back. This over-extends their frame, and actually feels uncomfortable for the follower, who probably feels like she’s being shoved around.

Dance Partner Tricks
And the zombie pose just isn't attractive.

If instead, the leader pushes himself backwards, using the follower’s frame as leverage, she’ll feel the lead more softly, and they will both extend their arms slightly, but not enough to break the frame. The bottom line is neither couple should sacrifice their frame for the other person.

dance partner tricks What tricks do YOU use to stay connected with your partner?

 

About the Author
Ian Crewe has been dancing ballroom for almost 20 years, and has a Licentiate in American smooth and rhythm. His passion for dance and his endless seeking for ways to reach new audiences eventually led him to blogging and the World Wide Web. Ian currently teaches ballroom at the Joy of Dance Centre, Toronto, ON, Canada.

Dizziness Cures for the Dancer

dizziness cures

Yes dancers, we’ve all felt it, we all fear it. Dizziness can instantly turn any ballroom dance from fun to terrifying, as we suddenly clutch our partner, afraid we’ll be carried to the floor at any moment. But there is help - dizziness cures we can use for both the beginner and the experienced dancer to enjoy a dance without fear.

‘Dizziness’ as I am addressing it here is actually vertigo, that sensation we get when we’ve spun too many times and the world is racing to catch up. Basically your brain gets confused as to where your body actually is in space, causing various stress-related reactions in the body. It can range from mild discomfort to complete disorientation and nausea.

dizziness cures
Wait, you're drinking too?! You guys is cray-zy...

Spotting - the #1 Dizziness Cure

Dizziness occurs when we observe things moving past us during a turn. By looking at or ‘spotting’ a non-moving object when beginning and finishing your turns, you can cut down on the transition period.

Dizziness Cures
Like this.

Here’s the basic idea:

  1. Find something to look at, at eye level, big enough to see easily.
  2. Slowly start making a turn in place (ex. a basic underarm turn works great), while looking at the object with your nose (this keeps your head from tilting). Continue until you can’t turn any further without turning your nose away.
  3. Snap your head around to face the object again, and let your body catch up to finish the turn. To use a rather psychedelic approach, I imagine I have ‘eye-hands’, that reach out and grab the object, keeping my head from swinging too far.
  4. Practice, gradually increasing the speed of the turns (until you are too dizzy to continue).
Dizziness Cures
Dude... Look at my eye hands.

dizziness curesYou don’t need to risk whiplash snapping your head around. Just go fast enough to blur the objects that pass you, and don’t try to focus on them.

Partial Spotting 

What if the turns are more gradual, like the reverse turns in a Viennese waltz? In this case, spotting two objects, one down the line-of-dance (LOD), and one against the LOD, is an effective dizziness cure. In the case of the reverse turn, try switching from one direction to the other on count ‘2’. Your head will seem to move slightly right, then snap left as you look the other way, like a typewriter.

dizziness cures
Every seen a dizzy typewriter? My point exactly.

Some turns are even more gradual, like the spot turn combination in Viennese waltz or rumba. Some dancers find their dizziness cure by focusing on their partner as the ‘non-moving object’. If this isn’t possible however, you will have to spot objects ahead of the turn with your eyes - every 1/4 or 1/8 turn if you can. This last technique is the hardest of all, so be patient.

dizziness curesStudies have shown that the brain reacts less and less to vertigo the more you practice spinning. It might take years, but your body will adapt, even without spotting!

Alternatives to Spotting

Spotting takes a while to master, so what’s a dancer to do in the meantime? One way to get around the problem is to alternate turning directions. For example, follow a right underarm turn with a ladies broken left (salsa). This doesn’t work for everybody, but for many, it ‘cancels out’ the spinning sensation from the first turn. Another option is to build up patterns that don’t require much turning, to buy you time when dizziness hits.

dizzy dancer
That was a great spin! Just... Glad there were a few moves in between, is all.

But keep practicing your spotting, and you’ll be a sure-footed ballroom dancer before you know it.

dizziness curesFor those of you who’ve found their dizziness cures, how much practicing did it take?

 

Credits:
Dance Forums
Neurologica Blog

About the Author
Ian Crewe has been dancing ballroom for almost 20 years, and has a Licentiate in American smooth and rhythm. His passion for dance and his endless seeking for ways to reach new audiences eventually led him to blogging and the World Wide Web. Ian currently teaches ballroom at the Joy of Dance Centre, Toronto, ON, Canada.

Ballroom Dancing Stretches: Part 3

Ballroom Dancing Stretches: Part 3

Now that we know a few things about stretching safely and efficiently, let’s look at some great stretches we can use to build flexibility and reduce our chances of injury.

Legs and Feet

Ballroom Dancing Stretches: Part 3Seriously consider buying a yoga mat. Or some of the stretches below will make your knees look like you’ve been practicing for the 100m baby crawl.

 

Ballroom Dancing Stretches: Part 3
Ankle Joint Stretch

Ankles absorb every step we take, doubly so when coming down from a lift or jump. Make sure you’re leaning forward on a support, with one leg behind you and a straight supporting leg. Then, bend the knee like the dancer above, then straighten. This won’t feel like much of a stretch, because it’s increasing your range of motion, not pulling on a muscle.

 

Ballroom Dancing Stretches: Part 3
IT Band Stretch (do both sides)

The Iliotibial (IT) band is one of the most important muscles to stretch, as it is used constantly for turnout and Cuban motion. If the above stretch isn’t strong enough, try to lower the chest down to the knee.

Ballroom Dancing Stretches: Part 3
Calf Stretch (And the instep, if you push up with the back foot and lean forward)

These muscles work together for all kinds of pushing-off actions, and well as good floor connection and jumps. Use the instep stretch to avoid a nasty charley-horse halfway through your routine.

Hips

Calf Stretch (And the instep, if you push up with the back foot and lean forward)
Hip Flexor Stretch

Like the IT band, hip flexors easily get tight through Latin hip action. Taking the position above, squeeze the glute (butt) muscles and push the hips forward, sinking into the knee as you do. Repeat with the other leg.

 

Calf Stretch (And the instep, if you push up with the back foot and lean forward)
Glute Stretch, Fig. 1
Calf Stretch (And the instep, if you push up with the back foot and lean forward)
Fig. 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

The glutes play an important role in pelvis placement and hip motion. Getting on all fours, rest the RF just above the calf (figure 1). Stretch by sitting back on the leg (figure 2), keeping the spine straight. Return to starting position and switch legs.

Ballroom Dancing Stretches: Part 3
Inner Thigh Stretch

These muscles are used every time we make snappy closing or crossing movements. This one is great, because it lets gravity do the work of stretching for you.

Warning!Muscles are most vulnerable when they are being stretched - never flex them, but use other muscles to exit the stretch, by rolling over for instance.

Chest, Back and Arms

 

Ballroom Dancing Stretches: Part 3
Delta Front Stretch
Ballroom Dancing Stretches: Part 3
Delta Back Stretch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The deltas are the powerhouse of the shoulders, and ballroom frame keeps them working constantly. Pull the arm across the chest (figure 1), or down and across the back (figure 2), to target different areas of the muscle. Careful not to apply much pressure on the backward pull.

Ballroom Dancing Stretches: Part 3
Chest Stretch, Fig. 1
Ballroom Dancing Stretches: Part 3
Fig. 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keeping our chest open and relaxed is essential for a good frame. The goal is to reach as far forward as you can without any part of your upper body loosing contact with the floor.

Ballroom Dancing Stretches: Part 3
Lower Back Stretch

If you’re tall (like me) and/or tend to stick your butt out when dancing, your lower back needs to be stretched out more. Get into the above position by lying on your side with left knee under right hand as shown, then raising the other hand up in the air and letting gravity carry it down to the side. Do both sides.

Ballroom Dancing Stretches: Part 3Try to do your stretches in the morning, as our muscles shrink again when we sleep. Besides, it’s a great way to prep your body and mind for the day.

Ballroom Dancing Stretches: Part 3
I... don't think I can get up again actually...

I’ve included a bonus video for a full routine of dance-related stretches (see below). If a stretch doesn’t feel right, search online or talk to a trainer for an alternative that hits the same spots. Everyone wants to dance for life - take care of your body, and you can make it happen!

Part one       Part two

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-LSEI1SK150[/youtube]