Closed Dance Hold – Big Frame & Posture

Posted September 26th, 2009 by layla

I stumbled upon this “Ten Tips in Ten Minutes that Result in Ten Times Better Dancing

All ten tips really are  that important. #7-10 I have learned previously, though of course I could benefit from more formal practice with most of them, especially #9. #1-6  I have heard before, and known in some capacity, but I have only really started to formally develop this week (starting when I started dancing standard exactly a week ago, then continuing with my coaching session last Monday, and really working at it a lot today).

While you can watch these ten tips in ten minutes, it seems to me that it could take ten 24-hour days to master them all! I guess I’ve put between 3-4 hours into numbers 1-6 this week (not counting any time I spent trying to maintain a frame with the air when practicing alone), and while everything made great logical sense when I heard it before (especially during the coaching session), and while I was able to do most of it for short periods of time during the coaching session, it is taking much longer than that to become fluent, so to speak.

There is a lot involved, and I must have learned 10 things today, on a much deeper level, that I didn’t really grasp in a physical sense before. I may have grasped them theoretically, but seeing it and having my body replicate it were two different things.

A great example is the connection during closed dance hold. You have to maintain that arm to arm frame up at the top with both arms. And when one side moves, the other side should move, equal and opposite. But I made many mistakes putting all of this together while dancing. At first, I was actually bringing that movement out of my lower back, instead of my upper back. This resulted in a sort of rigid uniform turning action of my upper body. I thought both sides were moving, but they were really just passively moving around. What I really should have been doing (and eventually learned), was actively using each half of my upper-back, working together, one side going forward, and the other side going back. It may not seem obvious, but this is a very different movement than simply twisting the lower back in response to the connection. And, this is really the root of maintaining the connection — it is the upper back that pushes the arms outward into the connection (the arms themselves shouldn’t be doing that work).

And actually, the lower back is involved too, as are the hips, knees, etc. When the leader applies pressure on the connection, I should respond, moving one half of my upper back in response to that pressure, and the other half in the opposite direction (one side forward, one side back). My spine should twist going down to my hips, which should also twist and lower in a similar manner, and twist and lower my knees as well. My whole body should perform this synchronized twisting and lowering action in unison (without my feet actually moving). Though, the upper body is not actually lowering, it is staying up. Only the lower body is lowering. It’s a bit overwhelming to put down in words.

What I just described is only a subset of what I learned today, and a smaller subset of the mistakes I made. I’m also not yet perfect at maintaining this connection, and doing everything as I’ve said it. I’m much much improved, and I can now do it most of the time, but it still falls apart after a while. I anticipate that it will take many more hours of practice before nobody will be able to pick at low hanging mistake-fruit on my closed dance hold/connection tree. :)

As much as it can be (is often) frustrating to spend hours upon hours practicing this technical stuff, instead of actually *dancing* and feeling that wonderful release where you feel less like a human and more like a bird when moving across the floor, I don’t regret focusing on it. I see it as a mountain to climb, and I know that it will be a long journey, but it is beyond this obstacle that I will be able to truly float across the dance floor, much more gracefully than I do now. I can wait — I know the wait is so very worth it! :D

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