Dance Practice, and 3 Things it Teaches You About Balance

May 31, 2016

I had a revelation recently. It happened during my workout session, while I was trying to balance my butt on top of a large resistance ball. It occurred to me, as I struggled not to roll off, that finding that perfect point of balance is a concept many of us are familiar with.

Since this isn’t a blog on inner peace, I’m not going to take you in that direction. But I also realized the concepts of balance I was applying could work for dance practice as well.

So if you struggle in your practice sessions, remember these three concepts. Finding perfect balance IS possible - not just within your body, but your mind as well.

Stay Calm.

A brain is like a large sponge, soaking up information from every direction. When the sponge is relaxed, it can retain more, and is more responsive when you are trying to nail those pivot turns.

But what happens if we get excited, frustrated or angry? Now it’s like our brain-sponge has been clenched tight in the grip of our emotions. You can imagine how much harder it is to receive all that crucial dance information now!

So in the name of better communication between your mind and body, take some deep breaths and relax: Nothing ever got done faster by stressing about it.

Aim small, miss small.

I remember this quote from ‘The Patriot’, and it seemed appropriate while trying to keep my weight balanced over the very centre of the resistance ball. Sure, I could have just jumped on the ball with vague intentions of staying centre-ish, but that would not have gone well for me - or my tailbone.

Similarly, when you are practicing your jetés, locks, cortes, or whatever suits your fancy, remember to be specific about what you’re trying to accomplish. If you change weight, don’t just aim for the front of your foot, aim for the centre of the ball of your foot.

Why? Because if you aim for a small target, you’ll only miss by a small amount. It’s the same reasoning behind that famous quote about landing amongst the stars - namely, that you had to shoot for the moon to get there.

Little corrections.

When something is throwing you off, it’s very easy to overcompensate in the wrong direction. Leaders who are told they need to ‘move from their core’, might start sticking out their bellies like they have lordosis, for example.

Try this instead: When you get corrected by an instructor on a newer concept, do it too far in the other direction on purpose, just to feel what to avoid. Become aware of how doing it this way throws off your balance, feels awkward or painful, or just looks plain weird.

Now, look for the medium between the two extremes. Like balancing on a ball, it might take some time to find that perfect centre point. But it’s there, and using little corrections, you’ll find it.

About the Author

Ian Crewe has been dancing ballroom for over 18 years, and has a Licentiate in American smooth and rhythm. His passion for dance eventually led him to blogging and the World Wide Web. Ian currently teaches at the Joy of Dance Centre, Toronto, ON, Canada.



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