Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Strictly ballroom

Some incisive thoughts on the balance a couple must strike when ballroom dancing.

The man must ... learn to lead. He must learn his steps, think about what steps he is going to do next when dancing, and learn how to communicate his intent through movements in his upper body. The woman, on the other hand, has to learn to follow. She must learn her steps, and also learn not to lead and not to anticipate. Instead she must try to enter into a Zen-like “mind of no mind” so that she can respond instantly to changes in her partner’s shoulder, arm, and hand movements. (The arms of trained ballroom dancers form a “frame,” and maintaining muscular firmness in this frame allows the woman to sense which direction the man is moving. This won’t work if either partner lets their arms go limp: the dreaded “spaghetti arms.”)

It can be done, but it's about as hard as this makes it sound.

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