First, we will show the 2 videos below to our clients to demonstrate what we teach.
The first video is a demonstration of the fundamentals dance skills required for a basic choreography. We teach this to all our clients.
The second video demonstrates our catalog of moves and patterns and how we can build on the fundamentals skills we first taught.
We don't teach all of this to our students! We ask them to pick 3 or 4 patterns and then teach them these patterns and integrate them and their personal choreography. As you can see in the video the patterns are named to make it easy for the clients to pick their favorites.
No two couples will have the same choreography.
Once the clients have picked their music and a few patterns, we are ready to create a draft of their choreography.
So at this point, we should have a plan and a good idea of the outcome.
Teaching the Basics
It's time for the students to learn the basic partner dance techniques.
- Exercise No 1: Posture, Frame and Hold
We start with the posture, the frame and then the hold.
We start with the posture:
- The 4 blocks - head, shoulders, rib cage and hips - should be lined up.
- Eyes forward.
- Chin level with the ground.
- Ears above the shoulders.
- Long neck.
- Shoulders down and relaxed.
- Back straight.
- Elbows away from the body.
Then the frame:
We first define the frame: from fingers tips up the arm, across the shoulders, down the other arm to the fingers tips. We then give a brief overview of the 2 purposes of the frame: communication (leading and following) and styling.
Time to describe the frame:
- Again, shoulders down and elbows away from the body (45° angle).
- Wrists are slightly higher than the elbows.
- Knuckles higher than the wrists.
- We explain that this position might feel a little awkward at first and that's normal. It's important to keep the shoulders relaxed.
Finally the hold and positioning:
First a quick word about positioning: Man and lady stand in front of each other slightly offset to the left. Most beginners will naturally adopt a "nose to nose, toes to toes" position and that should be corrected.
We will name and describe each position and hold:
- The closed position:
- 1st Hold: Leader's left hand palm up, followers right hand palm down. The hands are palm to palm and closed at rest. Keep an eye out death grip! The leaders right hand places itself on the followers left shoulder balde and the followers left arm rests on the leaders right arm. The arms should be fully connected.
- 2nd Hold: the difference between the 1st and 2nd hold is on the leader's left. Instead of palm to palm, the lady is going to use the hook (hand cupped and opened, 4 fingers together, thumb away). The leader will place a finger in the hook (either index or middle finger).
The 2nd hold is the best. It's a lot more versatile and it's used for turns and spins. We encourage our students to use that hold all of the time.
- Open position: There are many variations but the basic one is two-hand with left holding right and right holding left. Use the 2nd hold in that position.
- Exercise No 2: Leading and Following
This is a short and simple exercise to illustrate and practice the concept of leading and following. The exercise is particularly helpful for understanding the role of the follower.
Leader and follower place themselves in front of each other, palm to palm, fingers pointing to the ceiling and elbows bent at a 90° angle.
The leader will lead by walking forward and back. The follower should:
- Keep the tension constant between the partners hands and fingers. The tension should be firm but not strong.
- Keep the elbows at that 90° angle.
In order to do this, the follower will have to travel. That is the basis of the exercise.
We will make sure that the leader and follower switch role for this exercise as it is important for both to understand the concept of following.
We will also spice up the exercise by asking the follower to close the eyes and develop a better feel for that tension.
Just like meditation following is a very simple concept but difficult to practice at first!