Monday, August 31, 2009

Standard Technique: using whole foot, head balance

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Profile on Baryshnikov

On the occasion of a performance in Santa Monica, Los Angeles Times has this profile of Mikhail Baryshnikov.

Monday, August 24, 2009

DWTS Pairings Announced

See who is dancing with who. Mark Dacascos would be my favorite to win, except for Lacey's tendency to play fast and loose with the requirements of a particular dance.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Standard Dance Technique: Balance, Movement

Technique points:
  • It's important to be balanced over foot one is pivoting on.
  • Follower should be slow to put her foot down for step 6 of the natural spin turn, as setting her foot down too early will limit the amount of rotation possible. This is part of the general technique of waiting for the leader to commit his weight before the follower commits hers.
  • On Quickstep Lockstep, feet should be aligned with where you are going.
  • On backwards steps with settling, the heel should not touch the ground until both feet are together.
These are noted on the international standard techniques page.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Standard Technique Notes

Some new updates on Standard Technique:
  • When a pattern in the ISTD manual mentions "pointing" in a direction, rather than facing it, it is referring to foot alignment where it differs from body alignment. For example, the foot might "point diagonal center" where the body will still be aligned facing center. (See alignment diagram.)
  • It may appear sometimes looking at competition dancers that they wind up before making a turn. What is in fact happening is that they underturn their bodies in the preceding figure, to achieve essentially the effect of a windup. An actual windup would take too long, since it would have to be lead, and then followed, and then the turn led, and then followed.
  • On pivot turns, the leader keeps his legs in a line so that, for example, on a natural pivot turn, he ends with his right foot on the same track as his left foot (like he was on a balance beam). This prevents the leader from essentially crashing into the follower's legs as he turns. The follower, on the other hand, always maintains two tracks for the feet on a pivot turn, so that the leader can step between her feet for the next figure.
  • When stepping backwards, the follower does not put her heel down until feet are together to settle. She also starts stepping with the toe, rather than the ball of the foot. She should show someone behind her the whole sole of her shoe. This gives her a significantly longer stride and more power.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

"Dancing with the Stars" Gaining Weight

ET reports that Dancing with the Stars will have 16 celebrities this season, with three weeks of double elimination rounds.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Dance Video Social Site

In looking for dance clips on Google Video, I came across

It includes both social and competitive partner dancing, ballet, and many other styles. I don't think it will have as many dance clips as youtube, but it's all dance.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Technique on Standard Positions

Additional technique notes on standard dance positions has been added.

Starting a Dance - Getting Into Hold

10-point system when starting a standard dance - make this a ritual: (could be less dramatic for social occasions)
  1. Man assumes a dance posture, standing in upright position, lifting his ribs, weight toward the balls of the feet, rolling his shoulders back. He raises his energy.
  2. Lady responds in kind.
  3. Man raises his left arm forward in front of him just below the shoulders height, and his right arm to side, offering his left hand to invite the lady, particularly the space between the thumb and forefinger.
  4. Lady steps forward toward Man and places her right hand in the man's left hand, and they both close their fingers. Lady's hand has a slight twist to the right, such that the the thumb and arm form a line. Lady's R arm is in front of her body.
  5. Man draws his left elbow straight back, drawing the lady in, Left hand at eye level, elbow making slightly more than 90 degrees. Forearm is 45 degrees from floor.
    • The lady stops with some separation between her feet and the Man's. Do not get too closed. Let Lady decides her comfortable position before Man settle his R arm position.
    • Lady: be careful not to "draw Man in". Man draws Lady in, not the other way around. Lady "gives" and projects "forward" and "up",
    • Lady starts with R arm in front, keep that position when Man draws his L elbow back, i.e. lady should not move upper body forward making R shoulder/upper arm start going back. Keep upper body back and allow lower body to connect with partner, bend knees forward.
    • Per coach: 91 degrees for all dances, except for Tango: 89 degrees :) - this obviously depends on the height difference between partners.
    • The whole arm should not break at shoulder joint. It should make a smooth curve.
  6. Man places his right wrist under the place where the lady's arm meets the back of her shoulder.
  7. Man places his R hand under the lady's left shoulder blade, and the lady moves her trunk forward over her feet to meet the man's body, while maintaining enough arch in her back to keep her own balance without leaning on the man. (stretch abdominal muscle back to spine)
  8. Lady places her L hand on the man's bicep, just under the deltoid, with the thumb parallel to the man's upper arm. Man's right elbow rises to make contact between the follower's upper arm and his forearm.
    • Lady's L hand has slight twist to left, such that the left thumb making a smooth line with left arm.
    • If Lady is much shorter, Man should still keep elbow at reasonable height, while lowering R forearm put R hand around Lady's shoulder blade.
    • Man's frame should be such to allow the lady's elbows to be even with her shoulders.
    • Coach's opinion: The man's left arm and the lady's left arm should make a straight horizontal line across the top. The lady keeps her own elbow high enough to make the line, and the man lifts his right elbow as necessary and appropriate to provide the points of contact for the lead.
    • Lady's left hand: only thumb and middle finger touch Man's shoulder, index, ring finger and pinky are all "lifted up". Lady projects "forward".
    • Man's R hand: shouldn't need to curve his fingers. (Lady projects diagonally forward, spiral up - which will make Man's hand fit better without curving.)
    • Lady's upper arm should be quite "light" on the Man.
  9. Man steps to his left starting preparation step.
  10. Man steps to his right. Start.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Performance team in Seattle

While dancing at Impulse Ballroom in Bellevue, a lady recommended the Dance Team in which she's part of. This team aims to promote dance through performance.

There is formation team (more for beginners) and performance team (for more experienced dancers). They meet Wednesdays and Sundays at Dancesport International (Seattle). More info at

Review of "Burn the Floor"

A review of the Broadway ballroom dance production that seems to have been going on for an awful long time. This incarnation features Karina Smirnoff and Maksim Chmerkovskiy, known for their "Dancing with the Stars" appearances.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Dance Competition Divisions, Categories

Information about dance competitions has been posted on the website, including dance divisions, age categories, and competition levels.

As to what constitutes an amateur in competition, it seems that as long as you never call yourself a professional, or compete as one, you qualify as an amateur.