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Dr Matt's Dance Class — Foxtrot Week One
Here are five basic things to remember in learning Ballroom Dance:
1) Relaxing in a beautiful, immovable shape—called "The Frame."
Here are two professional Latin Dancers performing Cha Cha:
* Basic Cha Cha = Allan Tornsberg and Serena Lecca
Watch how their hands do not drop below the waist; and when the arms are not extended out, they put their hands in "neutral position."
Notice how Allen puts Serena into her all of her "rock" steps at .30 & .39 & 1.17 & 1.21 & 1.30 seconds (drag the moving ball in the Buffer Bar, left or right, until you've dialed in the correct digital location).
Truth is, the woman doesn't simply "rock" back; instead, the man provides the energy/inertia for her to move into her "rock" steps. Doing this requires a brief moment of tone between the partners, where the woman resists the bending of her frame, and instead, allows her body to be pushed back by the man. This IS how leading and following happens.
The principle to remember for the Ladies is this: GIVE BACK what you GET: As a man exerts physical "tone" . . . a woman will give BACK the same physical "tone"—after which both dancers return to relaxed state within a beautiful shape/frame.
At .50 & 1.39 you will see the position orientation where the man is angled north and south, and the woman is angled east and west--creating an L shape between the partnership. This is precisely the position that happens during a Rock Turn and Left-Side Pass.
Notice 3 consecutive lock steps (triple steps) at .30 to .38—easy to do, and they look great! We'll do this when we start learning Cha Cha. In the mean time, practicing different variations of "triple step" movement is beneficial to the learning process—now!
I might add, this is "Basic" Cha Cha in a relative sense. To Allan and Serena this is simple stuff. Take a look at this same couple doing advanced steps and styling in the Cha Cha.
Here's a tip to help the Guy's GET the Rock Turn and Left-Side Pass. You can observe the footwork technique danced in the "Chasse Cape" of the Paso Doble.
* Paso Doble: Chasse Cape = Karina Smirnoff & Slavik Kryklyvyy
Karina Smirnoff is one of the professionals in the TV show "Dancing with the Stars" (by the way, Julianne Hough, the Mormon Girl from Utah, has won the "Dancing with the Stars" title two years in a row).
The previous example of "Chasse Cape" is given mostly so the Guys can see how the man rocks Sideways at .22 & .25 & .27 — 1.03 & 1.09 & 1.17 — 1:59 & 2.07 & 2.14 and this movement enables the woman to "pass" the man. The narrator in the video describes this particular moment as "transfer of weight"— that is because both feet are already placed upon the floor and the man is simply shifting weight from the one foot to the other.
This technique is applied to the Rock Turn & Left Side Pass—as the man rocks sideways to his RIGHT foot. If each guy will GET his part down pat, then all a woman needs to do is relax and flow with the lead—as in the Asteroid Analogy as explained below.**
Finally, take a Look at how Karina is totally into the emotion of her dancing at .44 This is what I call "dancer's face." All the best ballroom dancers do it. Here's Karina dancing with "Star," Mario Lopez in the TV show Dancing with the Stars:
* Mambo = Karina Smirnoff and Mario Lopez
Take note of 1.22 to 1.30 — this is a left-hand cuddle, double arch to twin city, continuous pretzel with double loop ending. It's actually pretty easy to learn, and we will learn it in the coming weeks.
** The Asteroid Analogy is essential to understanding how leading and following occurs in Ballroom Dance.
In Ballroom Dance, the lady responds to her partner like an Asteroid that floats in a ZERO gravity environment.
To begin with, an Asteroid moves and turns in a particular directions as an Outside Force gives energy to that movement and direction. This means, an Asteroid cannot even begin to MOVE or make left or right turns on its own, but must be TURNED by an Outside Force. Sir Isaac Newton's First Law of Physics applies:
An Object that is set in motion will remain in motion
Once an Asteroid is given inertia-energy, it will move in the direction that the outside energy initiates . . . for eternity, until another Outside Energy changes the direction and/or momentum.
In Ballroom Dance, the Leader is the giver of inertia-energy; the Leader dictates direction and momentum. The Man is like the Driver of a Car, and the Woman is essentially the Car, equipped with steering wheel, gas pedal, brake, and my personal favorite, a horn — step on a lady's foot while dancing, and you will hear her horn! :o)
There is one exception to this "leading and following" rule, and it happens in West Coast Swing (among other dances), where a woman makes "suggestions" and takes the liberty to "play" of her own creativity and volition, within a given framework — but this is learned and applied at advanced levels of ballroom dancing.
Here's an example of two dancers free styling the West Coast Swing— meaning, the choreography created on the fly, impromptu. In the video, Heidi (who was in the Final 4 of So You Think You Can Dance, Season 2 in 2006) is "playing" within the Man's Lead. She is taking creative liberties, within the Leader's given framework. So, the Guy is actually following HER suggestions at certain moments.
Heidi and her cousin Benji Schwimmer were in the Final 4 of So You Think You Can Dance — Benji eventually won the title of "America's Favorite Dancers." Here are Benji & Heidi dancing a West Coast Swing. This routine is choreographed to the "t" — every move you see is pre-calculated and set to the music.
Notes for Dr Matt's Ballroom Dance Class — Week Two
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