Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Waltz Technique Notes

Tips for today:
  • [Waltz, Lady] Double Reverse Spin: step 1, straight back, don't turn hip either or turning foot to side which will be in partner's way.
  • [Waltz, Lady] Chasse From PP: pay special attention to stay on Man's R side, not drift to center or R side.
  • [Waltz, Lady] Lady's left hand should stay at the same place on Man's R arm, especially after whisk.
  • [Waltz, Lady] Back Whisk: Step 1 and 2, really drive, as Lady is on the outside.
  • [Waltz, Lady] Natural figures: after step 1, the shoulder should not stop, it needs to keep rotating and continue the flow.
  • [Waltz, Lady] Whisk: Promenade Position: lady should not pull her R arm back, leave it to Man, tuck R shoulder under and in.
  • [Waltz] CBM/Torque: when hips turn with body, it's not CBM anymore.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Waltz technique: Frame and Movement

  • Instead of putting arms strictly to the side to make frame wide, think of making it round, holding a big ball in front of you using the arm and body. Keep it that way throughout the figures.
  • Coming into frame: 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.
  • Be light on Man's arms: think of dancing holding a cup of water, hold your own arm/weight, body absorbs bounces.
  • Counter balance: 
    • In order to go more left (left arm), the muscle on left side of the body is crunching sort of diagonally to the right. "counter arms going left"
    • To go up, let free the lower body, bent the knees and stretch upper body up.
    • To "bend back" more, counter balance by moving knee, lower body forward.
  • Head:
    • Look 1/8 to left, do not overturn, that won't look natural. The eyes should be able to see the tip of the right fingers. Otherwise, either R arm is too far behind, or head is turning too much to left.
    • Because the upper body is bending back, the head should follow that bent line to create more volume, (neck straight with the line, don' break/bend neck, don't do straight upright either.)
  • Leg: Lady's R leg should be more close to Man's R leg (than to Man's L leg) - in general, move to left to allow more free movement.
  • CBM (i.e. Torque): for turns, shaping: when hips turn with the body, it's not CBM anymore. 
  • Whisk, ending promenade position: Lady: pay attention not to pull R arm back, leave it to Man, tuck R shoulder in.
  • Natural Turn: 2nd half, step 4: CBM; step 5: really drive, big step.
  • Double Reverse Spin: keep body contact with Man throughout the figure, stay left.
  • Back whisk: count "2": need to really drive, big step, otherwise, the ending alignment will be funny and Man needs to use Chasse from PP to adjust alignment. Preceding half of Natural Turn could over turn, ending Man backing DW.

Friday, March 19, 2010

US National Amateur Dancesport Championship results

The US National Amateur Dancesport Championship (March 11-13, 2010) has just completed in Utah. Results are posted at

U.S. National - Amateur Standard Championship - (W/T/VW/F/Q) 
Number Couples = 41 Number Rounds = 4

1 757 Ronen Zinshtein Miriam Ismaylova Brooklyn, NY
2 503 Igor Mikushov Margaret Midura
3 556 Pasha Pashkov Daniella Karagach Staten Island, NY
4 455 Tal Livshits Vlada Semenova Fair Lawn, NJ
5 183 Leonid Burlo Sasha Alekseyeva
6 667 Simeon Stoynov Kora Stoynova Bellevue, WA

U.S. National - Amateur Latin Championship - (CC/S/R/PD/J) 
Number Couples = 51 Number Rounds = 4

1 770 Valentin Chmerkovskiy Daria Chesnokova Saddle Brook, NJ
2 769 Ruslan Aydaev Valeriya Kozharinova Tabernacle, NJ
3 830 Oleksandr Altukhov Oksana Dmytrenko Dedham, MA
4 556 Pasha Pashkov Daniella Karagach Staten Island, NY
5 423 Andrei Kazlouski Kate Kapshandy Schererville, IN
6 455 Tal Livshits Vlada Semenova Fair Lawn, NJ
7 421 Alexey Karaulov Sasha Wissengolts Brooklyn, NY

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

International Standard Waltz Tips: Rise and Fall

Waltz rise and fall: While the book, and beginning classes, instruct one to begin to rise at the end of 1 in many waltz figures, the rise should be delayed until step 2. That is, when the weight has been transferred on the second step, then rise. 

Standard Ballroom Practice Exercises

Exercise to improve the use of legs and feet. This is the basic movement for Waltz, slowed down and detailed.
  1. Start with feet together.
  2. Extend the right foot forward, pushing the heel along the ground, by bending the left knee, keeping body straight.
  3. Push off left leg to transfer weight to a bent right leg.
  4. Press up through the right knee to bring the feet together.
  5. Repeat 2-4, switching right and left feet.
  6. With feet together, after pressing up through the knee, continue pressing up through the feet, getting the heels as high up over the balls of the feet as possible.
  7. Step forward with the right foot, landing on the ball of the foot, keeping the heel off the ground.
  8. Bring the left foot to the right foot, and do not let the heel of the right foot touch the ground until the left foot is even with it.
  9. Repeat steps 1-8, switching right and left.
The same exercise going back.

  1. Start with feet together
  2. Bend the left knee forward over the foot. Imagine that the knee is trying to touch a spot on the floor a couple of body lengths in front of you. As you do so, extend the right foot backward.
  3. Transfer partial weight to the right foot, keeping the body poised forward, and pull back the left foot, dragging the heel along the ground, keeping the heel of the right foot and the toe of the left foot off the ground until the feet are together. The forward poise of the body is required to keep the heel of the right foot off the ground.
  4. Repeat 2-3 switching right and left.
  5. Rise up as high as you can on the toes, and step back with the right foot. 
  6. Bring the feet together, pulling the left foot back, keeping the right heel off the floor until the feet are together.
  7. Repeat 2-6, switching right and left.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Dance tips: Waltz

  • Always think of moving past your partner.
  • When turning into promenade, the lady's head is the last thing to turn.
  • Always think of counterbalancing your partner.

    Thursday, March 11, 2010

    Daily exercises that will improve your dance

    Dance exercises: 
    1. [Practice, Standard] The 13-step position and shaping practice is a good warmup routine.
    2. [Practice, Standard] CBM: Step toward mirror with CBM, soft knees, shoulders and hips flat. Do not turn foot.
    3. [Practice] Using WF: Step back with tip toe, slip weight, roll down onto ball of back foot till two feet are even, lower heel.
    4. [Practice] Using WF: Step forward, slide heel fwd, split weight, roll fwd onto front foot, bring back foot fwd, settle, repeat.
    5. [Practice] Lead and follow with only body contact, shoulders parallel. Move around room and change body orientation.
    6. [Practice, Lady] Lie face down on floor, lift head and bend back.
    7. [Practice] Stand in front of wall with some space, then try to fill the space, make contact with wall, while keeping head and foot position.
    8. [Latin, Practice] Do rib cage exercise everyday.
    9. [Latin, Practice] Practice by stepping on paper and moving paper under foot.
    10. [Latin, Practice] Squat on toes, keeping upper leg parrallel to floor.
    More tips at

    Wednesday, March 10, 2010

    Standard Waltz: Bronze Level Practice Routine

    Bronze level practice routine:

    1. Natural Spin Turn  (123 123)  
    2. Reverse Turn  4-6 (123)  
    3. Double Reverse Spin  (1 2& 3 )  
    4. Whisk  (123)  
    5. Chasse From Promenade Position  (1 2& 3)  
    6. Natural Turn  1-3 (123)  

    Cha Cha Cha: Basics, Turns, Alemana, Hockey Stick

    Back basic step on count "2": ack step on count '2': put body weight on LF and settle, which pulls the RF in and back to 'catch' the body.

    Switch Turn (Left or Right): 1/4, 1/2, then 1/4 

    Spot Turn (Left or Right): the difference from Switch Turn is all in the amount of turn.
    • "2" - almost 3/8 turn to R, LF cross RF tight
    • "3" - over 1/2 turn to R to almost face partner, feet positions are not changed. Think of pulling up the body, 2 thighs tight together
    • "4&1" - side chasse to L side.
    Underarm Turn (Left or Right): like Switch Turn, but done under Man's raised arm.

    Alemana - turn to R. This is a 3-point turn. 1/8 to partner's side, then 1/2, brush RF to LF, away from partner, then LF brushes RF, 1/2 turn to R toward partner's R, LRL lock step.

    Hockey Stick - turn to L. On count "3" put Man's hand on Lady's Left shoulder and then turn.

    Shoulder to Shoulder - do not turn upper body much, just step foot behind the other.

    Ballroom Tip: Going through your partner

    In many turning figures, instead of thinking of going around, the technique will improve if one thinks of going through one's partner. On a natural turn, for example, the man steps straight through, stepping toward the lady's right shoulder, while using CBM to make room to get past her. Similarly, on step 5 of the natural turn, the lady steps straight at the man's right shoulder, where CBM creates room for her to get past. He goes, then she goes.

    More notes on standard technique.

    Tuesday, March 9, 2010

    Cha Cha Cha: Basic, Alemana, Closed Hip Twist

    Cha Cha Basic Movement: when stepping back, the size of the step is just as big as what the ball of foot can reach when 2 knees are together. Then, straighten back leg first, before putting weight on it. (This is different from American style which is more like "pressed walk".) More technique on backward step in Latin dances.

    In International style, the feet are a lot more "grounded" (constant pressure) than in American style. It's not good to see feet "loose" without tone under the knee.

    Cha Cha Alemana to Closed Hip Twist
    • Alemana
      • step 8, count "4", Lady's LF fwd step, this is already facing Man.
      • count "&", lock step (with ball of RF, not just toes, L leg should still be straight, a bit awkard feeling)
      • count "1": LF fwd, small step - don't start turning to Man at this step yet, step fwd, not toward Man. 
      • count "&": Wait for Man's signal to turn on count "&". 
    • Turn should always be sharp (even when music is slow).
    • Closed Hip Twist:
      • count "4": This is pressed with RF fwd (it's really a fwd step, throw L hip back. hip should not be flat), knee bent.
      • count "&": LF closed to RF, both knees bent.
      • count "1": RF to side, slightly back, still facing Man at this moment.
      • count "&": turn 1/2 to R.
    Cha Cha  Closed Hip Twist to Alemana:
    • Alemana step 3-5 is a lock step passing Man, then a sharp turn to do step 6, LF fwd to Man's L side.
    • Lady's steps are the whether the follow is cHockey Stick or Alemana. The way Man can give hint it how his LH holds Lady's RH.

      Monday, March 8, 2010

      International Standard: Contra Body Movement (CBM)

      Contra Body Movement (CBM) is usually used to initiate turns. Here are some technique that would help to dance CBM correctly:
      • CBM on a forward step: the person (either Man or Lady) that does the forward step is on the outside of the turn and travels more. The step itself should be straight on the line. The opposite shoulder would be turning toward the moving foot (remember to keep shoulder level, no dipping).
      • CBM on a back step: the person would be on the inside of a turn. Instructor often says "toe slightly turned in" - in fact, the hip and foot are "connected" together. The hip should also turn. Foot is always perpendicular to the hip. Man should always do a straight back step on the line. Lady follows the Man. (If Man does his forward step correctly, Lady would step back straight with CBM.)

      Different types of cha cha chassés, checks and cuban crosses.

      The routine we were working with consisted of
      1. Forward break to back lock.
      2. Three cha chas forward.
      3. Split cuban breaks
      4. Cuban break to the right
      5. Cuban break to the left.
      6. Forward break to Rondé Chassé
      7. Back break to Hip Twist Chassé
      Points of Chasse technique:
      • Feet always have pressure into the floor.
      • On a check step, go to split weight, back foot has ball pressing into floor. Back knee bends, knees touch, as weight transfers to back leg, heel stays up, ball pressing into floor. Back leg straightens, hips go back over leg. Step on 2, knee bends on &, back leg straightens on 3. The ball of the back foot does not move. This was emphasized repeatedly, whether for forward breaks, New Yorks, Cuban Breaks, the ball of the back foot on the checked step stays in the same spot. The instructor said she began to appreciate over the last few months how "sticky" the feet of the best pros are.
      • On Rondé Chassé, when left foot releases on 3, momentum is used to propel the left leg into the rondé. On 4, the foot lands under the body, straight leg, on the ball of the foot. On &, RF moves to bring feet together, on balls of both feet, knees bent, height of head hasn't changed. On 1, push off RF, straighten both legs, pushing off inside edge of ball of RF.
      • On Hip Twist Chassé, on 4, hips rotate around spine, so RF is forward in a pressed walk. On &, bring LF together with RF, on balls of feet, knees bent. On 1, push off LF to step back on RF.
      Exercise to develop flexibility of the foot: Stand on balls of feet, shoulder width apart, and then bend knees, and squat, keeping heels elevated.

      Upper body is light, feet are heavy. Feet press into the floor, body is light.

      Friday, March 5, 2010

      Why some people won't dance

      An interesting article by a dancing psychologist. The self consciousness he talks about is very understandable. This is just more obvious with dance, since it is a social setting, but having people see how uncoordinated we are is uncomfortable to consider. How many people would abandon playing tennis, or even jogging, if they knew they had an audience?

      There are relatively simple ways to improve how you move, without surgery. Perhaps we can't all be as graceful as Fonteyne or Barishnikov, but through regular dancing we can all become more graceful than before we started dancing. Training is good, but even just doing it, getting your body used to moving rythmically, finding joy in movement, will improve your physical grace. And isn't that what we most enjoy seeing in a graceful adult, or in a child--their apparent joy in movement.