"Dancing Tid-bits" Issue #191, Thursday, July 15, 2004

Dancing Tid-bits
Hands in Rumba

Hello Dr Max.
Found a lot of interesting information in your articles - thank you.

Knowing that this is an individual issue, I would still like to know your opinion/suggestions on ladies hands positions for a fan, during Alemana, spot turn and Cucaracha.

Zoya from Australia

Thank you Zoya for suggesting a good topic for discussion on Dancing Tid-bits. As you said, it really could be a matter of individual expression and taste. However as anywhere else in dancing there are some general principles of dancing which apply universally. I will touch upon this subject based on my limited knowledge and what I have heard in some training sessions. Hope it will have some meaning and then you can apply it to Rumba and Cha Cha and other latin dances.

1 . Connect your Arms to your Body: I recall a Lecture at Blackpool given by Lorrain (the famous English Latin Coach and I hope I have spelled the name correctly). The gist of the lecture was that every dance for that matter Ballroom or Latin is an expression of Body Movement. The Body then has a Center of Gravity which is responsible for our Posture, Balance and Poise. The Center of Gravity keeps you from Falling etc. Something close to it then, is the Center of Dance. This center of dance is used for Lead and Follow. The Man uses his Center to transmit his Body Lead and the Lady receives this signal for her body to move accordingly. Having said that, you must remember that Hands and Arms are an extension of your "Body". They are connected to your Center which is usually in your Torso. This Center is a little higher up in torso for Rumba, Cha Cha, Paso, lower for Samba and Jive.Actually what it means that don't just move the arms and hands independently. The onlooker and the dancer must feel that arm and hand movements are coordinated with body movement through the Center of Dance. You know what I mean?

2. The Free Arm: Generally speaking the Free Arm should not "dangle" and must be supported by the Center with its own life. It is kept more or less parallel to floor(?) with slight downward slope from shoulder down. The Elbow is slightly bent (not stretched) and the wrist joint has some ulnar deviation. The fingers are stretched and according to one champion it should feel like some electricity is being transmitted from you center through your fingers. This is considered to be the "Longest Arm" which is really an illusion.

3. The Free Arm should be in plane of the torso with hand slightly forward and should not be stretched too far back. If you keep the arm there and wiggle your thumb, you should be able to see this movement in your peripheral vision. If you don't see it, the hand is too far back.

4. The connected hand is comfortably by the side with forearm more or less parallel to the floor. It should not be too close to the chest neither too wide open.

5. The Arms and specially the free arm is not static and continuously change its action. For example on the accented beats such as 1 in Cha Cha and Rumba it is "OUT" and then it comes in front of chest during the middle and then again expresses outwards on the accent of 1.

6. When the partners is passing in front of each other the arms must assume a comfortable position so that they do not collide and thus are usually bent in front of chest.

This is as much I can tell but really if you see great dancers in competition you see every thing in this world and all the things opposite to what I have said. But you get there by increments starting with above basics.

Try to apply this knowledge to all the steps above and see what it means. I must say in the end that doing a Cucaracha, both arms may be free but both free arms stretched out will not look natural. I stretch the arm to the same side as where you take the first step to the side. I tried it vice versa and that felt good too.

Any other comments or critique is welcome. With Best Wishes, Max

This article is part of and should be seen in the frame context of Dancesport UK, Tid-bits