Right Posture,Correct Foot-work and Accurate Accentuation
Steven Hiller and Jenny Buchanan gave a dance workshop the following afternoon. It was attended by some thirty dance enthusiasts and competitors. Steven Hiller noticed some very glaring mistakes made by most competitors and he was quite disappointed to see that even the top amateur couples were dancing out of time with the music. This was especially so in the Slow Foxtrot.
Again and again, Steven Hiller stressed on the very importance of the right posture, correct hold,balance and correct footwork If the posture is not right, the hold is wrong,the couple is not in balance, and the footwork is faulty, it is almost impossible to dance correctly in time with the music. " It is going to be a disaster," he stressed strongly.
The knees must always be relaxed with slight flexion at all times. A locked knee is a disaster. The connections between the two partners must always be maintained at all times. Many couples, he noticed, are connected wrongly - some at the hips, some at the bellies,and others at the chest. This upsets the balance and creates dancing monsters on the floor. The connection must be a long one from the knees right up to the chest. It is a flexible connection, not a rigid one that creates dancing robots.
Jennifer Buchanan noticed that the ladies tend to arch backwards in a very unstable position, in their frantic effort to create a big top. This upsets the balance of the couple and it is impossible to dance gracefully,let alone to dance in time with the music. The lady must always be balanced on her own weight. This big top is an illusion. It is during picture lines that the ladies can create a big top by correct stretching. But once they are in the close position, they must be in balance to move together with their partners. The ladies must avoid belly dancing at all cost.
Jennifer Buchanan also stressed the importance of connections. It is vitally important for the lady to be connected to the man at all times. The right hand must be properly connected to the man. There must be some pressure there. This will prevent the hand from slipping off the man's left hand during the dance. The lady's left hand must also be connected to the man. Again,there must be some pressure on the upper arm too.
This important connection is reinforced by the man's left hand hold. Steven Hiller suggested that the man's left hand must be in connect with the lady's right wrist with the palm facing forwards. This will give a firm and secure hold on the lady. The right hand must also support the auxiliary fold of the lady with the fingers lightly placed on the lady's left scapula - with light pressure. This connection is continued with the forearm in contact right up the upper arm, the lady creating a V-shape with her left hand. This will give a very secure and comfortable connection and produces the right silhouette.
It will be a disaster to dance without the two bodies in balance.
The next important point is correct and clean footwork The competitors must show definite footwork A good heel lead is a must. There must never be any shuffling of feet in dancing. Pick up the foot and place it in the correct position in a gentle nonchalant manner, unobtrusively off course. It is again a disaster to see couples shuffling their feet on the floor - it is ugly and it is painful to the eyes. The proper use of the feet and ankles, the proper transfer of weight from foot to foot, and the movement from heel to toe , will help the couples to dance in time with the music. If your footwork is faulty or shifty, it is impossible to dance in time with the music.
The third point is the correct interpretation of the music. He emphasized on the correct accentuation during a bar of music. In the Slow Foxtrot the accentuation is on the 3rd beat as in the Feather Finish, Slow Quick Quick. In the Tango, the accentuation is on the third beat as in the closed promenade, Slow Quick Quick Slow. It is very important to understand when is the accentuation beat to dance in time with the music. Otherwise,as in the Foxtrot, the couples will simply drift out of time. There must be an accentuation in the first Quick of the Feather Finish to give Foxtrot its characteristic drift.
In the Tango, Steven Hiller stressed on the importance of the silhouette. If a competitor dances the Tango without projecting the correct silhouette, he will dance out of the competition floor in the first round! This important silhouette is created by the correct compact hold, the correct positions of the head, the shoulders, the body, hip, knee and leg. Without the correct silhouette, the Tango will be a disaster. Get the correct balance,posture and silhouette before you start.
One glaring mistake, Steven Hiller noticed, was the position of the man's left leg. In the promenade position, the man's right big toe was pointing vertically. It is just not Tango! The correct position is slight weight over the inner or medial aspect of the ball of the foot,with the left knee veered inwards, almost gripping the lady's right knee. With knees slightly flexed, it gives a beautiful picture line of the characteristic Tango.
And to dance Tango in time with the music, it is important to understand the accentuation beat, and this will give the staccato character of the dance.
In summary, to dance in time with the music, a couple must first be in perfect balance with the correct hold, the right posture and the right silhouette. The second fundamental point is to to have correct and clean footwork There must be no shuffling of steps. Every step must be gently lifted and gingerly placed. The third fundamental is to dance with accentuation to give the dance its character.