Lightness In The Arms. Techniques For Support And Agility!

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Our arms in the dance are an overrated structure. We are naturally visual and manual. (read the text: Our 6 Senses in Forró!!). When we start dancing we want to do everything with our arms, almost as if we want to force things to happen. This is what most affects a good functionality of the arms as well as affects their lightness.

Our first job then is to understand what the arms are and what they are not responsible for.

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What is not the responsibility of the arm

I list here the things that people usually do with their arms unnecessarily, despite being very tempting. In some of these things the arms may end up helping, but in a clearly secondary way, that is, in the absence of the arms they would be fully possible to function.

Carrying your partner’s arm

Eveyone is responsible for all their own movements, it makes a tremendous difference to concentrate on just moving their own arm without carrying the arm of the pair. And it is also worth understanding that for this, both have to be active. If the follower expects to be carried he or she will be contributing to a heavy dance.
For this to work, it is important not to grab or pinch the partner’s hand, the hands should touch each other abundantly but without any restriction of movement, it is necessary to form a dynamic contact between the hands so that the arms can work freely without making unwanted or uncomfortable movements. And this contributes so that no one carries or is carried.

Moving the body

The arms can help to guide the displacement, but who promotes the displacement are the legs, so there is no point in pulling the arm of the pair.

Balance the body

The balance of the body occurs with the positioning of the projection of the center of gravity in the area of the base. Who forms the area of the base of our body are our feet. Note that the arms are not present in the balance equation, so if you feel unbalanced, try to move your legs to form a new support base and not pull the pair with your arms to balance yourself.

Lead body parts other than the arms

The most efficient way to leadthe movements is by using the corresponding body structure. In other words, the best way to lead the hips is with the hips, the best way to lead a walk is by walking. The arm, again, will only have a secondary participation in the leading of the other parts of the body.

What is the responsibility of the arms

Now I cast what the arms should actually do. Things that are primary functions of the arms and probably would not be possible without them.

To draw the movements

Precise, lightweight leadings are the result of just two elements: drawing and timing. If the arm moves in the right way at the right time the force is 100% unnecessary to lead. Once again, for this to happen fully, both dancers must be responsible for moving their own arm.
The charm of the arm is, of course, a function of the arms and falls into the category of drawings.

Helping to orient the body

The arms can be very useful for orientation, when the follower is finishing a spin, his or her arms are a good indication of the leader’s position, so they help to know where to turn to start the next movement.
In addition to this, help with the reference, the arm can also be an important indicator of the direction of the turns. Extending one of the arms of the follower in the direction in which we want the spin to go is a good way to help the follower understand better where to go.

Some strategies

Now that we’ve separated what the arm should or shouldn’t do, we can look at some techniques that can help a lot.

Try to move your arm around your elbow first

The muscles of the shoulders are the ones that lift and support the arms and when the muscles of the shoulders are activated, the activation generates results until the next joint, the elbow. The part of the arms that effectively weighs is the arm itself (Part of the body between the elbow and the shoulder). When raising the arm the elbow or the first one and when lowering it is the last one.
We are very attached to the hands and forearm (Part of the body between the elbow and the wrist) and we have a tendency to let these structures guide the movements of the arm, and this is one of the factors that make the arm slow and heavy

To control the descent

Usually the dancers worry a lot about lifting the arm and simply let it drop at the end of the movement. That makes the movement become way too heavy. So always remember to control your arms up and downwards.

Leave the arm joints always available to move

Many people think it’s right to always leave the arm outstretched during twists and turns. However, the arms need movement to be always approaching the pair, thus preserving axis, comfort and contact between the hands. Try to leave the elbow above the shoulder line and let the forearm move constantly to adapt to the necessity of the movement.

What follows what?

The follower’s arm ACTIVALLY follows the leader’s arm motivated by the existing contact. The follower’s body follows theeir own arm. That’s right! The arm is active and independent of the body, so that the body does not wait for the arm to reach a joint limit in order to “carry”, “lead” the body to move. The follower seeks to leave the positioning between the arm and body always constant so that if the arm begins to move in space, the body goes behind it promptly. This is one of the techniques that most help in lightness and agility at the same time.

Leave the arm always disconnected from the body

That’s right!
A connected arm of the body is useful in specific moments: in the embrace of the closed dance, in the repiques and in the aerial ones. When moving openly and changing sides, the arms should not have a strong connection to the trunk. If we keep the arm connected to the body during a rotation, any imperfection in the circular movement of the arm around the body generates a direct impact on the center of gravity, compromising the axis and balance of the body.

When leading, try to circulate the head of the follower.

In the movements of rotation above the head it is very important to draw a circle with the arms in order to be able to preserve to the maximum the relation of the position between the arm and the body of the follower. Many people say that this delays the leading, but this is not true.
To start a subsequent lead, the body of the follower must be prepared to perform the new movement actively. When the follower’s body is circulated, the leader’s arm always returns to the starting position at the exact time when the follower completes his or her turn, wich is the exact time when he or she is ready to receive a new suggestion of movement.

Deliver the arm to the pair at all times, especially when the bodies are moving away.

Try to understand that when we move away from the pair the arm moves away with us, if the two dancers bring the arm with them during this separation, unwanted pulls will occur. whenever the bodies move away, give your arm to your partner in order to annul the movement of the separation and preserve the contact without any kind of pressure or pulling.
Note that this separation usually happens in step 1 and right after the side change. It is no good for the leader to want to speed up the leading. Remember that the arm does not move the body, so if the body is not going in the direction of the movement yet (very common in step 1), nothing good comes from pulling with the arm, wait for the driver to start moving to the final direction of the movement (usually from the step two) to make the arm perform an auxiliary movement to the movement of the follower. This is one of the best ways to continue avoiding unnecessary pulling and pressure.
Remember, if the follower is already going to make a movement, you do not need to make a mechanical lead to reinforce this event.

Do not duel with someone who pulls.

If someone is pulling on you, release your arm further in the person’s direction. In this way you contribute to the lightness of the dance and protect your joints.
If someone pulls you up, holds your hand and gives you no choice but to be disturbed by excessive strength, thank them for the dance and leave. (read: Can I refuse a dance or stop an on going dance ? Understand basic rules of courtesy and respect in the the dance floor !!)

Conclusion

The magic word of the arms is ACTIVITY. If everyone takes responsibility for the movement of their own arm, lightness, comfort and agility will simply be a consequence. You will start to hear phrases like: “Wow, I’ve never danced with someone so light!”

If any of this information does not make sense to you, seek the help of a professional so that he can help you understand better. Seeking guidance is always a more efficient way. If you have any questions, please contact me or look for me in one of my schools.

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