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Waltz Lesson 2: Positioning
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Ballroom Dance Positioning

If you want to get out on the dance floor and maintain your balance with a strong lead and follow, a review of some basic dance positions will get you off to a good start. [See Getting Started section of the Ballroom for Beginners Video.] For the Waltz, weíll be focusing primarily on Closed Position. Two other dance positions that can also be used when dancing the Waltz are Right and Left Parallel Positions. Letís take a look at these three dance positions. Click here to look up a word in our glossary at any point.

Starters

  1. Begin facing each other with your shoulders parallel. Your body should be offset by 1/2 body distance to your own left, with your right foot pointed in between your partnerís feet.
  2. Men, your right arm will be your partnerís main support. Place your right hand just below the womanís shoulder blade. Keep your fingers together and your hand slightly cupped. This will allow you to lead with your fingers and the heel of your hand. Position your right arm away from your body with your elbow pointing slightly to the side.
  3. Women, your left arm should rest gently on the manís upper arm with your thumb along the inside of his arm and your fingers draped over his shoulder.
  4. The womanís right hand rests in the palm of the manís left hand between his thumb and forefinger forming a "Y". The joined hands should be raised to the eye level of the shorter partner. These ďfreeĒ hands should not be used to push and pull. Leading is done primarily through the manís right hand on the womanís back.
  5. NO SPAGHETTI ARMS! Resistance is essential for a good dance team. If the body is limp, it wonít be able to sense which direction it should move in and the response time will be delayed. Resistance is achieved by keeping the shoulder, wrist and elbow firm. When dancing, resistance should be maintained for forward, backward and sideward motion. The exceptions are to upward and downward motion. Here, resistance should not be used in order to allow for smooth turns.

The safest place to look when dancing is 1/8 turn to your left, over your partnerís right shoulder. You can keep a conversation going while at the same time keeping your eye out for potential collisions.

How To Prevent Getting Stepped On

Now let's look at the feet. Never dance toe-to-toe or you'll end up stepping on each others' feet. This very important principle is called Aim. Aiming can be achieved by positioning your body so that it is offset by 1/2 body distance to your own left, with your right foot pointed in between your partner's feet. By doing this, you will prevent any unnecessary injuries on the dance floor.

 

Closed Position

The Closed Position is the most common position used in ballroom dancing. Begin facing your partner about six inches away. Stand upright with your head up and shoulders relaxed.

Arms and Hands

Man's Part

The manís right arm should be placed firmly with fingers and thumb held together slightly below the womanís left shoulder blade. Good leverage can best be obtained with placement of the manís thumb where the womanís arm joins onto her body.

The manís right arm should be kept firm and lifted at a 90 degree angle to his body making full contact with the womanís left arm.

 

Woman's Part

The womanís left arm should rest gently on the manís right arm. Her left hand should gently grasp his shoulder muscle with thumb on the inside and fingers on the outside The womanís right hand should rest gently in the manís left hand between his thumb and forefinger which form a ďY".

The joined hands should then be raised to the eye level of the shorter partner.

 

Promenade Position

Promenade Position begins with partners standing sideways in semi-open position, facing the line of dance with the man's right side touching the woman's left side. The man places his right hand at the left side of the woman's waist and gently clasps her right hand in his left.

 

Right Parallel Position

The Right Parallel Position (or Outside Right Position) is similar to the Closed Position with the exception of foot positioning. In the Right Parallel Position, the womanís feet are to the right of the manís feet. The couplesí right shoulders should be directly across from one another. The manís right hand should be placed slightly lower on the womanís back.

 

Left Parallel Position

The Left Parallel Position (or Outside Left Position) is similar to the Closed Position with the exception of foot positioning. In the Left Parallel Position, the womanís feet are to the left of the manís feet. The couplesí left shoulders should be directly across from one another. The manís right hand should be placed slightly lower on the womanís back.

 

Open Position

Couple stands side to side, slightly apart with woman to man's right side. Inside hands are joined and held below shoulder level (ie, man holds woman's left hand in his right).

 

Reverse Open Position

Couple stands side to side, slightly apart with woman to man's left side. Inside hands are joined and held below shoulder level (ie, man holds woman's right hand in his left).

 

Open Break Position

Facing each other and standing slightly apart, the man holds the woman's right hand in his left (or her left hand in his right). Occasionally, a right-to-right or left-to-left clasp is used (especially in the Swing).

 

Oposite Position

Couple stands facing each other slightly apart without holding hands.

 

Cuddle Position

Standing to the man's right side and facing the same direction, the woman "cuddles" with the man's right arm around her. Hands are held at shoulder level, joining right hand with right hand (when woman is to left of man), and left hand to left hand (when woman is to left of man). The cuddle position can be executed with the man's hand on the woman's waist in cuddle position (either right or left depending on which side the woman is standing).

 

Lindy Cuddle

A modification of the Cuddle. Woman stands directly in front of man with her back to him. This is a two-hand hold position with woman's RH and LH in man's RH and LH respectively. Dancing from this position is unique to the Lindy. It creates a shadow walk. Partners should step directly into their partner's shadow (so to speak). Just remember, if the woman steps forward, the man can step directly forward into her place (without stepping on her feet).

 

Click here to continue to the next section of Ballroom Basics and Waltz Lesson 3.

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