With the coldest days of the winter upon us – and -30 windchills are nothing to sneeze at… well, on reflection, maybe they are… – one must turn one’s mind to warmer thoughts. Soups, stews, parkas, burning logs in the fireplace, and among other things, partner dancing. But, not all dances with a partner are necessarily warmth inducing. I can personally attest to some dances in my past that were downright frigid, and others were definitely chilly. What are some great ways to keep any particular dance rooted in the warm, rather than out in the cold? They all have to do with connection.
In class, we have spoken at length about maintaining good frame and good connection. There should be equal tension between the partners, such that one partner isn’t overpowering the other – a good recommendation even outside of dancing! The idea is to maintain a “firm but flexible” connection, not so strong that one person is effectively immobile or feels “heavy,” but neither should one be weak or loose as if, for example, the arms feel detached from the rest of the body.
Additionally, one’s relative body position becomes important in maintaining a good connection. This idea literally refers to how one person’s body is positioned relative to the other as they move through the dance slot. It’s often the case that, say, the leader stays put while the follower travels, resulting in one or both partners becoming imbalanced because they have to stretch, reach, or bend unnaturally to maintain connection. Or, the opposite sometimes happens: the leader and follower are too close to one another in open position so that there is insufficient space to comfortably lead or follow turns, or to position yourselves to properly execute compound moves, like travelling turns. In any of these cases, rather than being comfy-cozy with each other, one partner or the other puts both in an uncomfortable and awkward position.
The other idea has to do with another meaning of connection, that is, the interpersonal connection between the partners. As we often note in class, you want to be friendly, but not creepy with your partner. Make eye contact and smile, but keep the intensity dial to no more than medium. Looking everywhere around the dance floor but at your partner suggests that you are more interested in who else you could be dancing with, rather than who you are dancing with. That, together with looking bored or disinterested, are all ways of turning down the refrigerator temperature on your dance partnership. If you are able to convey comfortable warmth through your facial expressions, chances are you’ll enjoy more than one song together on an otherwise cold January evening as we…
See you on the dance floor.