Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Rumba Technique

In Rumba, as in Cha Cha, always have your weight on one foot. Split weight happens only for a brief moment as you transfer weight from foot to foot. This is evidenced by always having at least one heel off the floor. As you transfer weight, you push off the inside edge of the ball of the foot you are leaving, maintaining pressure into the floor.
In International Rumba, we settle into the hips on beat 1, which matches the downbeat of the music. This settling is to the extent that you feel your center of mass lower.
Your balance is such that standing still you should feel the pressure from your weight primarily on the balls of your feet. Without any adjustment, this would make you look like you are pitched forward. So, once you have the right poise, you lift your chin so that you face forward, and you compress your core so that you don't have your ribs sticking out in front.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Basic Rumba Arm Styling: Cucarachas

When dancing Rumba, you want to keep the arms moving. This is some basic arm styling for Cucarachas and other side to side Rumba figures.

Starting with weight on left foot, settled on left hip, left arm is extended to side, left hand facing down and extended out, right hand is in front of chest, facing body, elbow down.
On beat 2
As you step to the right, the right elbow first extends straight to the side, followed by the arm from the forearm to the hand swinging down and out, the whole motion smooth, until the full extension of the right hand to the right, with the hand facing down, coincides with the settling of the right hip. As this is happening, the left hand turns up, accompanied by the bending of the left elbow down, the hand continues to rotate and the hand comes in, with the elbow going down, until the left hand is in front of and facing the chest, with the left elbow down. The end of this motion coincides with the full extension of the right arm.
On beat 3
As you return your weight to the left foot, the right hand comes in, turning up, elbow going down, and the left hand extends out, elbow first, then forearm swinging down and out, left hand ends facing down, fully extended to the left, at the same time as you settle on the left hip.
As you change weight to the right foot, and settle on the right hip, the right arm goes out to the right, and the left arm comes in.
Repeat the motions switching right for left. 

The image is of the two hands making circles, and the motion of the hands match and accentuate the motion of the hips, while the ribs are in opposition.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Video interview of Olga Foraponova

KING5 has a video interview of Olga Foraponova. Her studio, Oly's, is in Everett, WA. It would appear she trains youth competitors, as the video featured mostly children dancing in competition outfits.The video is in celebration of National Dance Week, I'm hoping more such features show up on the net.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Breakdown of Rumba Switch Turns

Turning and settling in the Rumba Switch Turn
In the following, numbers are the whole beats, '&'  is the half beat, and 'a' is the 3/4 beat.
Breaking it down really slow...
1. RF step side
&. Draw LF to RF, turn 1/4 right
a. Settle into right hip
2. LF forward
&. Keeping feet in place, swiveling on balls of feet, turn 1/2 to right
a. Settle into left hip
3. Transfer weight to RF
&. Draw LF to RF, turn 1/4 to right
a. Settle into right hip.

After holding on 4, repeat, swapping left for right.

What is shaping in ballroom dance? And how is it different from sway?

Shaping is a body posture that is assumed in the course of dancing to assist in dance partnership and to provide emphasis to certain movements. When shaping, one is still balanced. For example, if I am shaping left, stepping on my right foot, as the man would do on the second step of the quickstep running finish, he could stop on that foot and still be balanced. That balanced is achieved by shifting the hips to the right over the leg, while the spine tilts left. The tilt of the spine is counterbalanced by the hips.

This same idea applies to the standard frame in closed position. The knees bend, and the hips come forward. The hips coming forward is counterbalanced by the spine tilting back, creating a bigger frame. The spine tilts left, and the hips move to the right over the legs, counterbalancing each other, and creating the shaping to the left, and the big topline.

What's sway, then, and how is it different from shape? Instead of counterbalancing body parts against each other, the tilt of the whole body is used to counterbalance against a change of momentum. If you are walking along, and something like a curb stops the motion of your feet, the rest of your body still has momentum, and keeps going. You fall down, a victim of gravity and  Newton's first law of motion. If you see the curb is there, and you want to stop your motion before you trip, you lean in the direction opposite of your motion. If you are a pretty well balanced person (if you can walk unassisted you are pretty well balanced), you will lean back just enough that gravity and your momentum will balance each other out, and you will come to a stop.

The greater the change in momentum, the greater the lean you will need to change your momentum. That's why bicyclists, motorcyclists, runners, skaters, etc, lean so far into a turn, they are making big changes to the direction of their momentum.

Now, what's all that got to do with dance? If you are doing, for example, a natural turn in waltz, your first two steps are in a straight line. On the third step, you are bringing your feet together, and coming to a stop. You have also turned your body, so as you are bringing your feet together, you are moving to your side. If you have little momentum, you will lean away from the movement a little bit, to help you come to a stop. For example, in the natural turn, the man will be leaning a little to his right as he is bringing his feet together. If there is not much momentum, the lean may be unnoticeable to anyone watching, but it is still there, or the couple would start to fall over a bit to the man's left. If the couple has a lot of momentum coming into the third step, they will need to lean much more to the man's right to counter the couple's momentum. That's why competitve ballroom dancers have so much sway, because they are moving so fast across the floor, and need to make much bigger changes in their momentum.

In short, you don't need to try to sway. Sway is a natural consequence of staying in balance as you change your momentum.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Reverse Turns and Getting Kicked

You may find that sometimes the lady's left heel kicks the man's left heel in figures like the Reverse Turn in Viennese Waltz, and the Double Reverse Spin in Waltz and Quickstep. There are multiple factors that may contribute to this situation. The first is that the man's left foot is stepping inside the lady's right foot. This may be because the man is cheating a little to get around the lady on the turn, or the lady is stepping back and to her right to get out of her partner's way while the man is stepping straight. Then, on the lady's second step, the man's left foot is between her feet, and as she closes she catches his heel. This is exacerbated if the man's left foot is also turned out, making it more difficult for the lady to get her foot around his.

The first step in these figures is straightforward. Straight, and forward, with no turn out. Turn does not happen until the man's right foot passes his left foot.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Standard Technique: Stretch Left Up and Forward

Here are a couple of things to review - mostly for the Lady:
  • Getting into frame: Use the 10-point system described in Standard Technique. Note that Lady put her left hand on Man's right arm last, it is after Man put his wrist under Lady's left shoulder blade.
  • Lady's shoulder: do not drop left shoulder, really stretch left side forward and upward, and counter balance with muscle under shoulder blade crunching diagonally.
  • Head: do not wrinkle back of neck in order to appear looking up. Start standing straight, turn head 1/8 left without creating wrinkles in the back (elongate back of neck), bend left knee forward, pull 2 shoulder blades together to center of your back, counter balance the forward bending knee by leaving head, upper body as one unit behind (bend 'back' if you can, but as one unit and without gapping with Man), think about presenting your collar bones.
  • Though step 4 is listed as "side, slightly back" in the Ballroom Technique book, the Lady should step to the step, and because of changing direction to BDW, it will become a "slightly back" step. If Lady really steps back, it will gap with Man.
  • Step 4: Lady be careful not to dip left shoulder. Keep left shoulder flat.
  • Step 5: LF to side, some leaders like to shape a lot, by turning shoulder to right to wind up and connect with Zig-Zag.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Quickstep Fishtail Figure

In reviewing the entry for the Quickstep Fishtail in The Ballroom Technique, we find what may very well be a typo. The notes for this figure state that the man's 3rd step should be slightly outside the lady's left foot. To set context, the first two steps are RF in CBMP, outside partner, and LF crosses behind RF. So we are in outside partner position going into step 3.

At this point, if we have good connection, and we are in outside partner position, stepping outside the lady's LF requires at minimum that the man swing his leg out and around the lady's right foot.

However, if we read that note to state that the man's 3rd step is slightly outside the lady's RF, then the movement is natural.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Rumba Practice Exercises

This is one of the two actions for in-place weight change on beats 4 and 1. Bringing the hips flat before using the twist of the hips to move the foot is needed to create the right action.

Start the exercise with right foot forward hips flat.
1) Twist back left hip to start pulling back right foot.
2) Settle left hip, and bring right foot with bent leg even with left foot
3) Keep head level, up on both toes,  rotate hips, straighten right leg, and transfer weight
4) Extend left foot forward.

Points to remember:
  • Maintain pressure of inside edge of ball of foot with ground.
  • On 2 and 3 create maximum forward separation between knees by rotating hips
  • On 3, use core to lift hips to keep head level
  • Keep shoulders flat, unrotated
  • Use back muscles to create opposition between hips and shoulders
Alternate action for weight change:
Pull right foot in with straight leg, use hips and core to change weight, put left leg forward with knee straight.

The alternate action is slower, and emphasizes the hip action, while the other action emphasizes the leg. Different body types may look better doing one or the other action for in place weight changes, and what looks better may not be what feels better.

Rumba walks, in four parts:
Start with right foot back, 30% weight on ball of right foot with straight leg, feet turned out, hips flat. 
1) Turn left hip forward, this turns out right foot more
2) Settle left hip, bring right foot even with left foot, right knee bent, knees together
3) Push right foot forward, keeping weight on straight left leg
4) Push off from left foot to transfer weight to right foot.

Rumba walk back.
Start with RF forward, no weight
1) Left hip goes back, to the point of losing balance backwards
2) Right foot with bent knee quickly passes left foot
3) Catch falling weight on straight right leg back with weight on inside edge of ball of foot.
4) With straight legs, push of left ball of foot to transfer weight to right foot.

The size of a backwalk step is as big as the ball of foot can reach when the knees are together and moving leg's knee flex. If the step is too big, when settling the front foot will slide, which is not correct (except for some cases for styling).

Quickstep Silver Practice Routine

  1. Running Right Turn  (SQQ S SSS SQQ) start on the short wall, ending new LOD
  2. Natural Turn With Hesitation  (SQQ SS hold S)
  3. Chasse Reverse Turn  (SQQ)
  4. Reverse Pivot  (S)
  5. Double Reverse Spin  (SSQQ)
  6. Chasse Reverse Turn  (SQQ)
  7. Reverse Pivot  (S)
  8. Closed Telemark  (SSS)
  9. Fish Tail  (SQQQQS)
  10. Natural Turn And Back Lock  (SQQ SQQS) cut across corner along short wall
  11. Running Finish  (SQQ)
  12. Forward Lock  (SQQS) to corner
  13. Natural Spin Turn  (SQQ underturned to BDC, then SSS ending BDC on new LOD)
  14. Progressive Chasse  (SQQS S) overturned to LOD, moving DC
  15. Quick Open Reverse  (SQQ)
  16. Four Quick Run  (SQQQQS)
  17. Natural Turn  (SQQ) half natural
  18. Tipple Chasse To Right  (SQQ SQQS) corner

    Results for 2010 USA Dance National DanceSport Championships

    2010 USA Dance National DanceSport Championships took place April 9-11, 2010. Results are here:

    Amateur Adult Championship Standard:
    1. 443 Ronen Zinshtein, Mariam Izmaylova - NJ
    2. 477 Igor Mikushov, Margaret Midura - NJ
    3. 105 Janis Kukainis, Samantha Mang - NJ
    4. 116 Vladislav Shahov, Milena Jasionek - NY
    5. 438 Pasha Pashkov, Daniella Karagach - NY
    6. 403 Oskar Wojciechowski, Katarzyna Szymanska - NY
    Amateur Adult Championship Latin:
      1. 110 Valentin Chmerkovskiy, Daria Chesnokova - NJ
      2. 302 Ruslan Aydaev, Valeriya Kozharinova - NJ
      3. 474 Andrei Kazlovski, Kathleen Kapshandy - IN
      4. 307 Andrey Tarasov, Laura Kveladze - CA
      5. 312 Vitalii Proskurin, Natia Kuprava - CA
      6. 438 Pasha Pashkov, Daniella Karagach - NY
      7. 406 Tal Livshitz, Vlada Semenova - NJ
      Amateur Adult Championship Ten Dance:
          1. 438 Pasha Pashkov, Daniella Karagach - NY
          2. 447 Alexandre Tchernossitov, Regina Maziarz - NJ
          3. 406 Tal Livshitz, Vlada Semenova - NJ
          4. 380 Simeon Stoynov, Kora A. Stoynova - WA
          5. 413 Yuriy Nartov, Khyrstyne Barton - NY
          6. 190 Daniil Vesnovskiy, Anna Oblakova - NY

          Sunday, April 11, 2010

          Dancesport Competition Results

          When we want to find out the results of a particular competition, we can often find them on O2CM, and click on "Results" to find the comp we are looking for. When we are looking to see how our favorite couples are doing over all, we go to, and type the couple's names in the search box. The results for this weekend's Dance Nationals in LA are already up.

          Saturday, April 10, 2010

          What is a preparation step?

          You may have observed standard ballroom dancers swaying from side to side for a measure before starting. If you started learning American style smooth before international standard, you would have learned that the man always starts dancing stepping forward on the left foot.

          In international standard, we have a preparation step. It's a bit of movement to get the couple started moving and in sync before they start dancing. From the man's perspective it consists of a step to the left, a step to the right, and then forward on the left foot before starting a figure. For Waltz, the timing would be:
          1. Step left
          2 & 3: Hold
          4: Step right
          5: Hold
          6: Step forward on left foot.

          For Foxtrot and Quickstep, the timing would be.
          1: Step left
          2, 3, and 4: Hold
          5: Step right
          6 and 7: Hold
          8: Step forward on the LF

          If your first figure will start on the man's left foot, then hold for one more beat before stepping forward with the left foot.

          Wednesday, April 7, 2010

          Standard (Waltz) Basic Technique Points

          Weight distribution in standard dances: the center is 'heavy', it has half of Man's and half of Lady's weight. So it is especially important to not lean to right and becomes 'right heavy'. Example:

          • Step 1: Lady LF back, CBM - upper body turning to R to open up for Man to pass. Hip is pretty straight, stays with Man. Head stays left.
          • Step 2: Lady RF to side - this "side step" is actually more forward to "keep up" with Man, otherwise, Man and Lay will gap. Hip turns, but upper frame stays as previous, This is where "body turns less" comes in.
          • Step 3: settle, collect.
          • Step 4: Lady RF forward (hips forward Man, so it doesn't gap), CBM - upper body turning to R, really keep left side up and forward. Think about following left elbow. This is a pivot step, the LF doesn't track to RF, it stays where it is and pivot.
          • Step 5: Lady LF back, slightly to the side and give enough room for Man to step forward in between Lady's legs. RF brushes to LF as a result of rising.
          • Step 6: Lady pushes off LF, RF forward. Hip follows the Man, don't gap here.
          • These are all reverse turning figures. Step 1: Lady RF back, rotate upper frame to L (CBM), keep spine to left and avoid leaning to right and become 'right heavy'. It's very easy to tip toward center. Avoid that. Think about head following L elbow.
          Top frame: 
          • A lot of how it looks at the top is driven by what the legs are doing.
          • If we are standing straight at each other, the top will be close. Now, bend the legs, top will appear to be bigger.
          • Lady: stand more to the left which will give even more room. (Don't turn foot to avoid bumping knee. Move to left.)
          • Lady: the right side should not "crunch up". As a matter of fact, it should stretch with the right arm that's connected to Man.
          • Lady: tight up diagonally from left shoulder to lower right side, this makes the left shoulder forward toward Man. But pay attention to keep hip position and not have R hip rotate away from partner.
          • Neck: no wrinkles in all directions. Think about long neck.

          Monday, April 5, 2010

          Rumba Technique Practice Routine

          Practice the Rumba routine below with a piece of paper under both feet. A couple of technique points to remember:
          • Try to keep paper moving with feet at all times. It's difficult to do, but it trains the feet to be 'sticky' (have pressure) on the floor.
          • Keep upper body 'lifted' at the same time.
          • Use inside edge of feet, "break the ankle inward"
          Practice Routine:
          1. Start with LF in front, weight on RF.
          2. '2': rotate left hip forward
          3. '3': rotate right hip back
          4. '4': point LF back, left toe behind right heel, hold position
          5. '1' (half beat): hold position
          6. '&' (half beat): put weight on LF
          7. '2': move RF back, settle
          8. '3': replace weight on LF,
          9. '41: RF forward, settle
          10. '2': Cucaracha, LF to left side
          11. '3' (half beat): replace weight to RF
          12. '&' (half beat): LF closes to RF
          13. '41': RF to side, settle
          14. '2341 (half beat)': Alemana
          15. '&' (half beat): spiral to R (lift up, tighten inside muscle)
          16. '2341': RF forward Rumba walk
          17. '2': Rumba walk LF fwd
          18. '3' (half beat): RF fwd, slightly cross LF
          19. '&;': 1/2/ turn to L, ending LF in front
          20. '41': LF back, settle
          21. '2': RF closes to LF (like starting Hockey Stick step 4)
          22. '3': LF forward
          23. '41': RF forward
          24. '2': LF forward walk
          25. '3' (half beat): RF forward
          26. '&' (half beat): full turn to R
          27. '41(half beat)': LF forward (traveling same direction as before the full turn)
          28. '&': 1/2 turn to R

          Friday, April 2, 2010

          Dance Alignments

          In Standard dances, it's very important to have proper alignment of the feet and body. The alignments page has been updated to address some potential confusion when reading descriptions of international figures.

          Two alignments that could cause some confusion are diagonal center against line of dance (DC against LOD), and diagonal wall against line of dance (DW against LOD). DC against LOD is the direction opposite diagonal wall, and DW against LOD is the direction opposite diagonal center. Or, another way to describe it, if LOD is north, then DC against LOD is southwest, and DW against LOD is southeast.