How Low Can You Go?

One of the biggest problems of controlling movement and balance in Ballroom Dancing is maintaining the mass of the partnership. Under normal circumstances the center of gravity is considered somewhere around two inches below the belly button. In Ballroom Dance balance is best achieved by keeping the mass of the partnership as low to the floor as possible. So "How Low Can You Go?"

Picture an inflatable punching bag. It's about 4 feet tall and is weighted at the floor. No matter how often you punch it, it will always return to its upright and balanced position. If we placed the weight higher up in the bag, it would never return to its upright position. Let's apply this concept to Ballroom Dancers.

So add legs to the bottom of the bag imagining the bag to be the torso and we have a complete dancer. This means that the mass of the dancer is well below the conventional center of gravity of a person and is now where the legs come together in the pelvic area.

Here is an exercise that will demonstrate how your body should feel.
  • Sit in a straight back chair; lean against the back and relax. You will be sitting on your cheeks.
  • Now roll forward over the "pelvic sit bones" (The bony parts that you feel when you sit up straight on a firm surface.) and sit up straight. Notice that your whole torso will be toned and erect and you lift your chin naturally. Repeat this paying attention to how your body responds and feels.
  • Now allow your pelvis to feel a little heavy (like the sand weight). Place your arms in dance position and stand up maintained that slight heavy feeling in your pelvis. Repeat until you can maintain that slightly heavy and toned feeling while you are standing in dance position. 
This is what your body should feel like when you Ballroom Dance. This will also eliminate the problem of being too relaxed or too stiff while dancing.

Because the partnership is physically connected high up on the body through the frame, dancers tend to move through the frame instead of the low mass of the partnership. Let the torso sit on top of the slight heaviness. Move the heaviness, turn the heaviness, rise and fall through the heaviness, power through the heaviness, etc. The rest of your torso will follow.
 
This doesn't work if you only try to turn it on when you dance.  You have to make that toned and upright feeling part of your life, so it is there all the time and you don't have to think about it.  In your everyday life, walk with that slight heaviness and upright toned position. Put your seat back up a little in your car and sit in that upright toned position as you drive. You will feel more alert and in control. Let this become part of everything you do in your daily life.
 
Our goal in Ballroom Dancing is to move and act as "ONE" on the dance floor. That "ONENESS" is achieved by combining the two dancers through the lower mass of the partnership. 

 

 Source Material:  Joy of Dance