Ladies – control your moves!

Last week, I wrote about the importance of leads protecting their partners and managing their dance space to avoid using their partners as weapons and minimize accidental injuries. Ladies, we’re not exempt from this lesson; we are responsible for controlling where our feet go – especially if they land on someone else’s toes.

True, you can’t help it if the guy you’re dancing with insists on dancing big and takes huge steps – but you can control the size of your own strides, and your own styling. Here are a few things that you can do to be a courteous dancer on a crowded floor:

  1. Take small steps
    Far too many beginner ladies think they just need to go where they are led, and don’t learn to control the size of their steps. This can lead to you traveling away from your partner, losing connection, running into another couple, and can even make some moves painful and/or dangerous.
    Controlling the size of your steps helps avoid all these perils. For most moves, you never need to have more than one foot’s width worth of distance between your feet. If your steps are bigger than that, make ‘em smaller.
  2. Keep your styling vertical
    As a beginner, you probably learned arm styling that involves extending your arm horizontally at shoulder level. This looks great on an empty floor, and helps build coordination, but is likely to clothesline the couple dancing next to you on a crowded floor, or take an eye out. Same thing with kicks or leg sweeps – you might look stylish, but you might also have 3 people trip over your leg.
    When the floor gets crowded, your best bet is to style vertically – vertical arm extensions are ok, as are hip movements, body waves, shoulder shimmies etc.
  3. Never put your heels down
    The most common and painful dance floor injury comes from getting a pointy heel planted in your foot, with the weight of a fully-grown adult on it. Please be safe, and never put your full weight on your heels. It’s good dance practice, it will improve your form, and it will help immensely if you do accidentally step on someone.

I once took a workshop with a very wise dancer who said “control is the best thing a dancer can develop”. It’s what makes you stable on your feet, what makes your styling stand out, and what keeps you and others safe on the dance floor. Learn to control your moves, from the size of your steps to the swing of your arms, and you’ll be fair ahead of the game – not to mention much, much easier to dance with.

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