The single most common mistake made by novice Rock n Roll dancers is being too tense when they dance. This results in stiffness and rigidity as opposed to flexibility. When we dance, we move our bodies in unusual ways. To do this effectively, especially in time to music, we must be flexible. That means we must relax.
Failure to relax while dancing causes rigidity in the arms, upper body and also sometimes in the legs. Picture this:-
mentally make two human figures out of steel, complete with arms and legs. Construct them facing each other. Weld their hands together without any joins at the elbows or shoulders so they are totally rigid. Now try to turn either one in any direction. As you can imagine, it can’t be done. Without any flexibility in the arms or shoulders two people joined at the hands simply cannot turn individually. This may seem extreme and indeed, it represents the extreme position. Now construct the same two figures using pieces of string for arms. Tie them together at the ‘hands’. You will find the two figures can easily be turned away from each other in either direction. This again represents the extreme position. Obviously, the correct solution lies somewhere between the two extremes, but where precisely? Common sense tells us that the nearer the arms are to the ‘string’ end than the ‘steel’ end, the more easily the figures can turn.
When dancing Rock n Roll, flexibility in the arms is definitely required. This means the elbows must flex. Many women who I teach to dance find it extremely difficult to make this happen. They keep their elbows rigid, relying on movement at the shoulders to allow them to turn. This doesn’t work particularly well. I find these women have an increased tendency to throw themselves off balance when making overhead turns.
Rigid arms means that either the arms or the body won’t be able to go where required. Usually it is the body. This sets up a vicious circle because when these women start to lose their balance they are inclined to tense their arms even further in the attempt to stop themselves from toppling over. The likely result is stiff, jerky and inelegant dancing.
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