Archive for Ballroom Dance

Jan
22

Drama, Drama, More Dramam-Dancing with the Stars Review

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Happy New Year to all ballroom dancers and to 2012!  What is your New Year’s resolution, as far as ballroom dancing is concerned?  If you do not have any, I hope you will come up with one after reading this blog.

I would like to congratulate JR and Karina!  JR proved he is a true fighter even as a dancer.  He was full of fight from the very beginning and his win was not a coincidence or luck.  He danced to win.  He clearly showed us that if there is a will, there is a way.  Most people dance just for fun, but it won’t hurt to set a goal and work up to it.  You will find an amazing difference.  Just practicing does not make you a successful ballroom dancer.  You may, though, think your dance will improve as long as you practice.  WRONG!  You may be able to learn more steps to show off, perhaps, but it is not how many steps you know, it is how you dance!  I will write more about this topic some other time.  This is a very important issue and not many people notice the truth behind that jargon, “Practice makes perfect.”

Having said that, Rob demonstrated how important it is to practice under good instruction, and how fabulous he looked when he danced with a good partner.  Did you see how he grew even as a person when he got his confidence up?  I also want to commend his coach, Cheryl.  She chose Quickstep as a free dance and her strategy and choreography was perfect for Rob.  They danced a traditional Quickstep first and then move onto a quick paced free style with all kinds of tricks like, lifting, spinning, etc.  It was fun and well done.  It was a good example that all the effort had paid off.

Personally, I think Ricki has the most potential and could become thebest dancer of the three.  So what went wrong and what can we learn from that?  Do you remember the Tango that Derek and Ricki danced, featuring the movie “Psycho” by Hitchcock?  What an unforgettable dance and choreography that was!  The silhouette enhanced the effect of the nature of the dance, didn’t it?  I take my hat off to Derek and praise him for his artistic choreography and talent.  Ricki really impressed and entertained the audience, as well.  Her posture was graceful and her performance was precise.  That is what she needed for her “Free Dance” to win.  However, she danced Quickstep and Salsa, which is a quite interesting but difficult combination.  It could have been better if it was a combination of Tango and Salsa.  I know a couple who take only Argentine Tango lessons, but no other dance.  Mastering just one kind of dance may open a new prospective and it could be a good strategy for some people.     Quest your strength and pursue it.

Do you agree that we clearly saw three different dramas?  The woman who struggled with her weight problem all her life, the shy young man who came out of his shell and earned confidence and grew up, the war hero who survived the war and a tragic accident, and yet is fighting even now for his victory in life.  What kind of drama do you have?  Whatever it is, one thing I can say is that dance is a great tool to positively change your drama!

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Nov
21

Can you beat BLUE ANGELS?

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I recently had an opportunity to watch a Blue Angels’ performance.  This time, I saw a lot of similarity between the Blue Angels and ballroom dancing and hoped you guys were also watching them fly.  Beauty, accuracy and speed are just a few of attributes to mention, but I wonder if you noticed how closely they were flying together?  They are absolutely unified, demonstrating perfect partnership.  Are you showing that kind of partnership when you ballroom dance?  Most beginner dancers usually fail to do so, but even experienced ballroom dancers, as well as social dancers, seem to have problems acquiring this critical technique.

A man said to me once, “If I dance close to my partner, my knees hit hers and hurt her.”  Another man said, “She may be embarrassed if my body touched hers.”  Their dance postures attested to their missing connection.  I could almost put another person between the man and his partner.  His posterior was sticking out and he was communicating with his partner with his hands and arms, as well as his legs and mouth!

 The connection in ballroom dancing is imperative to communicate with your partner.  This connection is obtained mostly (there are exceptions) through each other’s right side of body, especially through ribcage.  Without this sort of connection, you cannot carry on the performance well.  You will find yourself dancing much better if you master this skill, particularly when you perform intricate steps and figures.  You will feel you are not losing balance or dancing behind the music and speed you need to maintain in a sequence of difficult choreography.  It is a must to acquire this skill by the time you reach ‘Silver Level,’ but I regret to say there are so many social dancers who know silver level steps but lack this critical skill.  Some people make a mistake and associate the connection with dancing cheek-to-cheek, which is danced in place embracing each other.  A partner dance, like ballroom dance, requires technique of balanced ‘invitation and initiation’; even though the couple upholds the connection and never loses speed and flow.  That clearly shows the difference between dancing cheek-to-cheek and dancing with connection.  The connection enables us to dance in unified form without dragging or pulling our partner.  The technique is quite difficult and you need good instructions on this subject.  It is well worth while to have private lessons for this purpose.  I don’t want to discourage you but it takes time to achieve this goal.  I see you are casting me a baleful look.  I am only urging you not to give up if you cannot gain this skill right away.  This skill itself is actually a part of the essence of ballroom dancing.

Now, do you think you can beat the beauty of the Blue Angels and fly on dance floor unified with a partner?

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Sep
04

Are you a SKATER or a BALLROOM DANCER?

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Have you ever ice skated or roller skated?  You come in a skater rink and start skating counter clockwise.  Everybody and his brother keeps skating the same direction over and over.  I see the same practice on a dance floor.  Why is that?  I know you need to follow the dance traffic, otherwise you will bump into other couples and you will be in trouble.  I understand we may follow some kind of rules unless you own a 2500sq feet dance studio in your backyard.  However, I would like to warn you how this mistake can cause you to form a bad habit.

When you develop a sense of counter clockwise direction, you get used to making slight turn at the four corners even though the step you are executing may not be a turning step.  Your quarter turn may end up being three quarter turn due to your extra weight shift, which may take you to a long wall, instead of LINE OF DANCE or vice versa.  Most likely, you are giving your lady partner unclear signal and may put her in a backward position longer than necessary.  The worst enemy, though, is monotonous and boring choreography.  Dancers!  We are not Grey Hound, running on the race track!

Here are solutions.  Be aware of four corners.  (Did you even realize there are four corners on a dance floor?)  Practice dancing into the corners and performing picture lines at the corners.  Dance when many people are taking their rest, especially after popular music or fast dance music. When that chance arrives, take advantage of using the whole floor and demonstrate your well- thought choreography.  The problem about that strategy, though, is music.  You may want to practice Waltz but the next music may be for Foxtrot.  Just ignore it or use iPod for you and your partner.

Good grief… there is nothing easy, is there?  However, when you learn the beauty of floor craft, you will be well rewarded as a ballroom dancer.  Beginners and intermediate ballroom dancers ask your instructor and have her make a special sequence of steps for you before you develop the “counter clockwise brain wash.”  Still worried about bumping into other couples?  In order to avoid the sort of collision also requires a cool technique that you eventually need to learn.  Right now, just use “Hesitation” with your style.

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Jun
29

How to shine on the dance floor like “Stars”

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Did you watch the Season 12, “Dancing With the Stars,” which ended in May? Three contenders, Kristi Alley, Chelsea Kane and Hines Ward, were chosen for the final and showed their showmanship.

Could you guess who would win this season? Right after I saw Hines dancing with his partner, Kim Johnson, I thought he would win. Why? I thought it was pretty cool and unique to dance ballroom dancing to a marching band. But yet, numerous ballroom dance steps and figures were shown throughout their performance, as well as cheerleader movements. I give Kim credit utilizing Hines’ background as a football player and his charisma, being known as a member of Pittsburgh Steelers. In the past, many finalists chose Hip Hop type of choreography for their free style dance. That’s exactly what Chelsea did. If nobody did that before, she would have actually won first place. However, it was already season 12 and we have seen so many finalists attempting similar choreography. The idea is now a little bit stale to me. How about Kristi Alley? If I were her coach, I would assign Tango with a Flamenco flavor. She is a mature woman and an actress. I would throw tapping and clapping motions along with Tango figures and have her perform a gypsy. If she desires to show off that gymnastic movement, I would save it until the last moment just to give a touch of surprise for the audience. I did not think, though, that gymnastic movement was effective for her at all. Anyhow, they all did a great job!

You can shine as a dancer regardless of whether you are a good dancer or not, if you are creative and demonstrate something different and new. That is how Hines won the competition. Do not be afraid of incorporating Latin steps into Standard or Smooth Danceand vice versa. Use Hip Hop steps for your Latin or Rhythm Dance. Many people are too shy to stand out on the dance floor. When you dance on the public dance floor, try to make a little effort to shine like “Stars” even though you may think it is enough as long as you are having a good time. And you know what, that effort goes long way. The more you entertain your audience, the more you improve your dance. If you do not want to shine, you can always dance at home.

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