Last week we learned a powerful tool for improving balance, by increasing floor connection and stability. Now it’s time to take the principle of staying grounded to the dance floor and feel it in action.
Continue reading “Improving Balance: Grounding Exercises 1”

A lot of instructors talk about the importance of staying ‘grounded’ through your movements. You might hear strange comments like ‘heavy walking’, and ‘push through the floor’.When learning how to improve our balance in dance, what exactly does staying grounded do for us?
Continue reading “How to Improve Balance in Dance: Staying Grounded”

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.
Continue reading “Ballroom Dancing Stretches: Part 3”

Some time ago, I was stretching on the studio floor, and a student walked in and asked if I’d hurt myself. ‘Nope’ I replied, ‘just stretching’. ‘Oh’, he responded, ‘I’ll have to take care of my body so I won’t have to do that.’

There’s an assumption among many dancers, that ballroom dancing stretches and warm-ups aren’t necessary. Some, like the student above, even feel that stretching is only necessary to recover from an injury, rather than to prevent one. 
Continue reading “Ballroom Dancing Stretches: Part 1”

Dancing without your arms is like painting a picture with only half your colour palette. Great dancers have learned to express the music with their whole body, to create better musicality and convey the emotion of the dance. So how can we start to develop our ballroom arm styling so it moves as fabulously as the rest of us? Continue reading “An Intro to Ballroom Arm Styling (P1)”

Ever watched a show like ‘So You Think You Can Dance?’ or ‘Dancing With the Stars’, and wondered how they were able to pick up so many dances at once? Yes, they’ve had some prior training in both cases, but still, could you dance lyrical, samba, and Bollywood after a few weeks of practice? 
Continue reading “Cross-Training: Upgrade Your Ballroom Dance Technique “

So now that you’ve started to build your dance repertoire, you might notice that you’re actually starting to get ‘danced out’. You watch with envy those guys and gals who seem to be able to shake it non-stop – and they’re still there when you’re packing up your shoes. How can you raise your dance stamina to keep up?

There’s two quick answers: improve your physical fitness, and improve your dance efficiency.

We are talking about dance stamina, which is very different from strength.

The latter requires a very different approach.

1. Practice!

I can hear your groans from here  But it’s true – if you want to build your endurance, practicing your steps at the intensity that tires you regularly will allow you to do it longer and longer – and naturally you’ll get better at the steps as well.

Pic of muscles: ‘Also, this looks nice.’

Make sure you pace yourself. The fastest way to improve is to set an intensity that stops short of pulling muscles or frustrating yourself.

2. Less is more

Most dancers start out doing everything too much: too much hips, too much arm styling, too much turning… You get the idea. All that extra energy just drains your dance stamina, and throws off your partner as well. See if you can relax your body a little more, do a little less, and still move with your partner.

3. Consider a dance fitness class

Many studios teach dance classes that focus on burning calories. For example, Joy of Dance teaches Zumba, Nia, and Ginga classes, which vary in their intensity. You might even try a style like capoera that can’t help but strengthen your body simply because it’s the nature of the dance.

4. Hang From the Joints

Try this: position yourself in a dance frame with an imaginary partner. Now, relax as much as you can without loosing the frame. You’ll find it a lot easier to hold the position, while spending a minimal amount of energy holding your body at the right angles. Practice dancing like this, alone and with a partner, to keep soft and save your dance stamina.

5. Fill the Music

In ballroom, movements should be spread out to fill each beat. For instance, if you begin a waltz reverse turn by rotating your body, hips and feet leftward on count 1, if will be MUCH easier to complete the turn on steps 2, 3. It’s a smoother lead too, which will score you more dance partners.

Other movements, like open breaks or contra checks, can save dance stamina if the lead is initiated a fraction of a second earlier – it’s all about being comfortable enough with your steps to anticipate the action just before it happens.

I’m not giving followers permission to back-lead here. But be ready for these subtle lead changes, and you will work with your partner – not against him.

Last week we played with some simple exercises to get your hips moving as you travel in different directions. As these exercises start to sink in, you can apply some of the following techniques to smooth out the movement. 
Continue reading “Cuban Motion (Latin hip action) Explained, Part Two”

Knowing how to make good dance turns is absolutely essential for anyone looking to find more willing dance partners – ask almost any woman what they like most when dancing, and they’ll say: “spinning!” After all, who doesn’t love an exhilarating travel turn, or a back spot turn locked in your partners embrace?

Most dancers practice by whipping their body around repeatedly without thought to the process, finally rejoicing when they nail it after the 100th time. Sound familiar? The problem is, this doesn’t teach consistency – you just got lucky, and reinforced some bad habits in the process. So, how can you raise your game?
Continue reading “Dance Turns, and How to Perfect Them”