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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
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
|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.
|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
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.
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).
Couple stands facing each other slightly apart without holding hands.
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).
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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