Latin Basic Mechanics-Posture and Hold


  • Basic position of body:
    • Head, shoulders, ribcage, hip, leg, stacked up and connected, not tight, legs moves like scissors.
    • Tummy muscle pulled in. Tall spine. Lengthen neck.
    • Shoulder is lowered: Really settle both shoulders down. (“Squeeze” shoulder blades down back center.)
    • Chest is release down to floor, lower chest muscle, no blown up chest, feeling of exhaling, let all air out
    • Look straight ahead
  • Hold your own frame up
    • The body (center) should be very “lifted” and “up“, otherwise Lady is heavy on Man.
    • Upper body: light; feet: heavy, sticky. This is like stepping in water. Arms above water, light. Feet below water, heavy.
    • No drop-dead elbows. Imagine a balloon under arms, but also don’t stick elbow horizontal out to the side either, which tends to lift the shoulder up.
    • Try to create a large volume between Man and Lady, connected with partner with tone in arms.
  • Never break body in order to get more hip action. Have to keep basic fundamentals clear and then do as much hip action as you can.
  • In Latin dances, weight is held more forward on balls of the feet. This allows more free movement in the hips.

The hold in Latin dances are closer than that of Standard dances.

  • Closed hold:
    • Man’s L forearm to Lady’s R forearm. Lady’s L hand is higher on Man’s R arm, around Man’s R shoulder, rest on shoulder blade.
    • It’s ok for forearms to touch (perpendicular to ground) or leave some space (forearm is forward), but never bend arm ‘backward’. Keep tone in arm.
    • Fingers of man’s left hand closed around lady’s right hand.
    • Stand about 6in apart from partner.
  • Open hold:
    • Stand at about arms length from partner.
    • (Lady) keep tone in the arm, elbow “out” or “down” – different instructors have different preferences. Some find arms on the side with elbow down is more natural. The important part is to keep tone in arm and don’t lift shoulder up.
    • Man should hold the lady’s hand with thumb on the back of her hand, the first two fingers on the palm of her hand, with just tight enough a grip to clearly lead and communicate his position.
  • Lead at lady’s waist level.
  • Keep low connection, flat wrist. Appropriate tension, not artificially stiff and hard.

Getting into position in Latin dances (basic way):

  • Man raises his energy and offers his left hand.
  • Lady: pause, see, and sense. Respond with right hand.