Question: I notice when watching you social dance that you have great fluidity, but also sharpness. You look relaxed, yet precise. When you follow complex patterns and change directions etc, it is very definite, but also smooth and seems to be just the right energy, not too much and not too little. I saw a video of myself social-dancing recently, which was disappointing to me. I’ve been working on my dancing for four years or so by now, but the way I move (just the way I step while following, so to say), did not seem to reflect that mileage – I looked at myself and thought I looked discombobulated and shaky. So I have been trying to improve that. My question is – do you step decisively when you follow (i.e. maintain very strong connection with the floor), or is it more the feeling of stepping lightly without feeling a lot of resistance against the floor?

Answer: The connection I have with the floor is deliberate, and I always try to step with precision, not aimlessly.  The more precision and awareness you have of all your movements, including the most basic ones, the easier it is for you to create any type of movement that you want.  Our lack of awareness is what often results in movements that look messy, choppy, and unstable.

The first step is to pay attention to the parts of your body that are not actively doing something. For example, let’s say you are styling a move with your right hand. You probably know exactly what that hand is doing, where the fingers are pointing, how much energy it has, etc.  But in that moment, are you equally aware of what your left hand is doing?  The key is to develop an equal awareness of active body parts as well as passive body parts.

The best place to do this is in your basic where you don’t need much thought to execute the step and focus on the following:

  • Your arms: Where are they? What are they doing? How much energy do they possess?
  • Your posture: Are you using your frame? Are you engaged through your core muscles?
  • Your feet: How are you stepping? How much weight is in each foot? Are you transferring your weight quickly and evenly? How bent are your knees?
  • General movement: Is your body moving passively or do you feel your muscles engaged and active throughout your movement?

Starting with basic moves allows you to develop this awareness without being overwhelmed with all the other things you have to do and keep in mind. The greater your awareness, the more control you’ll have. With that control, you can decide what kind of movements you want to create.