Saturday, March 15, 2014

Sway Revisited

Sway is an important part of any Standard Ballroom dance.  It gives a certain musicality to the dance that couldn't be possible without it.  It allows us to continue moving and lets our energy flow even if our feet come to a close.

Like I mentioned in a (much) earlier post, sway is often meant to counterbalance sideways movement.  Because of this counterbalancing, sway allows us to make an even LARGER sideways step than we could initially, because it prevents us from moving our weight past the catching foot and losing our balance.  This larger step in turn helps our motions become more defined and flow better into the next motion, instead of stopping and killing our momentum.  Sway essentially allows us to store energy and lets us release it when we need it.

Hopefully I will be making a few posts on how to most achieve sway in your own dancing!  But this gives you a good idea of why it is important to your dancing.

-Aaron Mullen

Friday, October 18, 2013

Teaching at Parks & Recs

Just a little update about myself.

I've just recently started teaching a few group classes at parks and recreation departments in my area.  So far its going well.  The people are all enjoying themselves.  One thing I have realized is how difficult it is to manage time during class.  The problem is the large difference in skill levels of the students.  Some require a lot of time and attention, while others require less.  As a teacher, I would like to give everyone equal time, but that isn't always possible like I said, everyone has different needs.

I found a good way to make time for everyone.  You have what I would like to call 'practice time' during class, and during this time, you make everyone practice a specific figure individually, and then you walk around fixing issues and giving out encouragement.

It's been interesting, and I hope I can continue teaching far into the future!

-Aaron Mullen

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Promenade Vs. Promenade

What is this?  How can a thing be different from itself?

Let me clear up this confusion.

Despite what one may think, Promenade and Promenade are not the same thing.

Still confused?  If you are, then this is rightly so.  If you already know what I am talking about, then good for you!  You're a step ahead of me!

Now, on to the actual difference.

There are two kinds of Promenade.  The first kind of Promenade is a dance position.  Essentially it is when the man "opens" the lady.  The man turns about 1/8 of a turn to his left, and the lady turns about 1/8 of a turn to her right.  This means there is a 1/4 angle between them, or 90 degrees.  Less turn would be ideal, but for the purposes of this blog, 1/4 is a good amount.

Then there is Promenade in American Foxtrot.  Promenade in American Foxtrot is simply a dance step in which we use the Promenade POSITION as I outlined above.

Confusing huh?  Don't ask me why someone thought it would be a good idea to name a step after the position, as it can cause some confusion.

This confusion could be overcome by calling Promenade Position another name, which is Open Position.

In the end, it is simple just to remember one refers to a step, and the other to a position.

Hopefully I helped clear up some confusion!

-Aaron Mullen

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Alignment (Part 2)

(If you aren't sure what is going on here, refer to the previous post)

So, alignments change in relation to where you are in the room.  Remember how I talked about Line of Dance before in this post?  Line of Dance is very important in defining alignment.

The official definition tells us that Alignment is "In relation to the room" which is accurate, but it is not the entire truth.

Alignment is more in relation to what Line of Dance you are moving along, and Line of Dance is indeed relative to the room.

So to figure out your alignment, all you would have to do is take the chart here and place it on the floor with the arrow pointing down the line of dance of your choice.  Remember, there are only four lines of dance in a room, one going along each wall.  Here is a little graphic of how the above chart could be used:


Dance Floor


Notice how the arrow points in the direction you want to be moving down the floor at your current position.

Don't worry, it isn't entirely necessary that you be able to read it.  This is just a guide on how to use the alignment chart.

Basically, all you must remember is that the line with the word "center" must be pointing towards the center of the floor, and the line with the word "wall" must be pointing towards the nearest wall, or the outside of the floor.  Once again, remember there are only four possible lines of dance.

This is very important as it helps a teacher efficiently and quickly convey the direction he wants the couple to face.  Memorizing these will help you spend less time talking, and more time dancing!

So get to it!

-Aaron Mullen

Friday, December 21, 2012

Alignments (Part 1)

Hello!  I finally have time to write blogs again!

Now, on to alignment!

What is alignment?  And why is it important?  Well, the official definition of alignment is, "The direction the feet and body are facing in relation to the room."

Now, what exactly does this mean?  There are eight alignments in total.  Here is a graphic of the eight alignments in Ballroom:

(Click to enlarge)


You should memorize these alignments, and in my next post I will demonstrate how to use them and understand what they refer to.

-Aaron Mullen

Friday, November 30, 2012

Christmas Time is Coming

Hello readers!

So, Christmas time is nearing.  Here I am, busy as ever, wishing I had a few minutes to make a nice post, but I rarely get that chance anymore.

Do not fear though!  I have not forgotten you!  During Christmas break when I have more time I will definitely make more frequent posts.  I have learnt so many interesting things in the last few months, it will be wonderful to finally share them with you!

See you around Christmas time!

-Aaron Mullen

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Offset Dance Position(Standard/Smooth)

Here is a relatively simple thing to do while dancing your Standard or Smooth.  Never stand directly in front of your partner.  You always want to be slightly offset.  This always holds true, regardless of whether you are a man or lady.

Now why is this?  And what exactly does it mean?  Think about it for a second.  If you stand directly in front of your partner, and you take a really long step forward, you're going to step on him or her!  To fix this little dilemma, we change our position slightly so that our right leg and right hip line up with the center of our partner's body.  Because of this little adjustment, our right leg will tend to go between our partner's legs, and the left leg will  tend to step to the left of our partners legs, instead of on top of them!  How absolutely convenient!  No longer is there the need to look down to check where your partner's feet are!

Couple this with a close dance hold as I mentioned in a previous post about body contact, and you will most probably avoid stepping on your partner 99% of the time!

-Aaron Mullen