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DANCE FRAME

A key to smooth lead and follow is a stable dance frame. This frame involves tone in the muscles of the upper body; not tension, certainly not stiffness, but enough tone so that the man can communicate to the woman, and the woman can sense or feel that communication.

The man is upright and even a bit arched back. Never lean over your partner. The woman is pressed firmly into the man's right arm. Perhaps the most conspicuous feature of the dance frame is the more-or-less horizontal oval described by the shoulders and arms of both dancers. Lead hands (man's left and woman's right) are held a little above shoulder level. The man's right hand is cupped against the woman's back, just under her left shoulder blade, fingers together and angled downward. The woman's left hand is perched lightly on the man's right shoulder or upper arm.

Hips are in contact. The woman's right hip bone is "in the man's watch pocket." We communicate with knees and thighs, too. He will lower a little before each figure, and so his knee will contact the lady's leg, telling her we are about to move. He might signal a turning figure with a little upper body rotation. A toned frame communicates between hands, arms, hips, and thighs. With so many sources of information, how could there ever be any misunderstanding?

Good Dance Frame

Good Dance Frame

Keep your arms up and proud. Don't let them droop and cower shyly down at your sides. Good Dance Frame

(click on any thumbnail for a larger view)

Make contact at the hips, but keep the upper bodies apart. Good Dance Frame
Sometimes, we speak of "dancing like two bananas." Assume a gentle curve, arching just a little to your left and back. Body Arch
In closed position, each dancer looks out of his or her own "window," that is, over the partner's right shoulder. Incline the upper body a bit that way, and you get into your own space and avoid intruding upon your partner's space. Good Dance Frame
The lady's left hand perches lightly on the man's upper arm, like a songbird on a small branch (not like a vulture weighing down a thick but burdened limb). Good Dance Frame
In some of the Latin rhythms, especially in Bolero, you may lower the lead hands. The man will sometimes even place her hand seductively upon his left hip. Latin Hand Position
Look for some of the features I've described above, in these photos. Good Dance Frame
Good Dance FrameGood Dance FrameGood Dance FrameLatin Hand Position
Good Dance FrameGood Dance FrameLatin Hand PositionGood Dance Frame
Good Dance FrameGood Dance FrameGood Dance Frame
Body ArchLatin Hand PositionGood Dance Frame

Photos © A. Curths; D. Drury; F. Lepretre; J. Lee; P. Sosabowski; P. Suba; V. Kanonikov; from Dancesport UK photo gallery; from Sevenwood , and by Morten Nilsson.


exerpts from this photo essay reprinted in
Dallas Harvest Holiday newsletter, February 2007


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