Since I work with both ballet and ballroom dancers, I’ve become curious about how the two, quite different forms of movement can call upon the same organizing features of the Alexander Technique’s principles of a good head/neck/spine relationship.
Ballet structure – at least the classical form – derives from a largely two dimensional approach. The torso and rib cage are carried squarely over the legs with less invitation of spiraling. The exceptions are epaulement, a position in which the shoulders are at right angles to the direction of the supporting leg, with one shoulder thrust forward and one back.
And as well, choreographic diversions which are becoming more and more commonplace as so many different dance styles inspire choreographers to create outside the ‘ballet box’.
Examining the connection between uprightness and a free neck is useful for ballet dancers who are often trained to “pull up and brace”. I’ve found that training stresses lengthening in the spine, but the truth that this can be done with a free neck is often overlooked or not understood. The “monkey see, monkey do” approach passed on through generations doesn’t give students their own means of working towards coordinating themselves around a thoughtful process.
Ballroom structure – in Latin and American Rhythm, the defining movement style is largely three dimensional e.g. Cuban motion requiring oppositional rotation of the whole torso, facilitated by lats driving the pelvic spirals or figure eights. Uprightness is all about grounding, again created by opposition. Freedom in the neck to improve posture? The end point (good posture) has been explained to me by my wonderful teachers, but not the “how to”.
All of the experience gained in Latin and Rhythm can be brought to Standard and Smooth – the rotation in the torso during leg led transitions, but without the figure eight Cuban motion – not including choreographic flourishes. Note: I don’t claim to be an expert in Standard or Smooth as my ballroom experience has been primarily Rhythm and Latin, but I have learned that one assists the other.
Here’s how these two structures are anchored in the same approach
- They are both human movement styles.
- They both call upon the body to produce an aesthetic, artistically appealing performance.
- They both require coordination of all the parts of the body into one organized whole.
- They both – in all the various permutations of style – seek an economy of effort with great underlying strength.
Want to learn the best kept secret for acquiring all of above? It’s all in your head! (neck/spine)!
If you want to find out more, book a lesson with me, either on zoom.com or if you are in the NY/NJ area at my studio in Montclair, NJ. Please use my contact form, tell me about yourself and leave your availability. I will respond within 24 hours.
Happy Dancing! If you know other dancers who may benefit from reading my blog, please forward.