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August 27, 2009


Thoughts on bad posture

Don’t know about your neck of woods, but visiting teachers will generally insist on dancing with a good posture during their classes. However, from browsing clips on YouTube of well-known (usually very old) milongueros and teachers, what I saw during my trip to Buenos Aires, and perhaps the little streak of rebelliousness in me(!?), sometimes I really wonder what’s all the fuss about having a good posture??

I mean, it is not difficult to find clips of the so-called maestros dancing with an apparently imperfect posture and yet able to move musically and perhaps with a dash of showiness. What’s the catch? Why is it that “they” are allowed while “we” (the “uninitiated”) are barred from copying their examples to the dot!? I mean, if these famous dancers can manage to dance well with slouched backs, bent heads, etc., why can’t I do the same… 🙂

Actually, despite the slightly tongue-in-cheek introduction, my conclusion from all this is that good posture is not just for aesthetics but serves important functional purposes. For me at least, the fundamental principle is simply:

Provided that you do not disturb your partner’s axis or balance, slight deviations from the ideal posture are not only permissible but actively encouraged.

I believe that, just as we should walk with our unique personality, so we should dance with as few constraints as possible, or else we will all become mere robots on the dance floor – stiff and straight, able to move to the rhythm of the music precisely, but nothing more.

As a matter of fact, here are some “pet peeves” that I have (for leaders) and their potential problems. My take-away from this is that the more open the embrace the more allowance you can bend this rule.

  • Bent legs and bowing slightly outward (see animation below). From what I can see, this generally leads to difficulties to 1) walk straight, 2) walk smoothly, 3) make highly dynamic movements, and 4) pivot – you will hardly ever see such leaders able to complete even a 180° turn smoothly.

  • Thrusting hips forward. Apart from making your partner extremely uncomfortable, this actually creates difficulty in stepping forward smoothly, although this is probably one of the easier problems to correct.
  • Chest back and slouched back. An obvious sign of this is when the leader’s head is almost resting on the follower’s shoulder and (if the follower is significantly shorter) with the follower’s back bent backward at a precarious angle…
  • Head bowed forward at an angle. For me this has been the most difficult to characterise, because this can be seen in almost all of the maestros (young and old) to a more or less degree. As a matter of fact, I think it’s very natural when in concentration to bow our heads ever so slightly. My current thinking is that it’s fine to have a slightly bend as long as 1) it does not intrude into the space of your partner (assuming chest-to-chest close embrace here), and 2) it does not stop you from turning with an upright axis. Nevertheless, avoid using your partner’s shoulder as a pillow… 🙂
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  1. Sep 7 2009

    A serious (is it?) piece of writing but I just can’t stop laughing! 😀

  2. Sep 7 2009

    Welcome back!

    Yeah, there are some “serious” points but now that you mention it, I can see that this piece has some unintended hidden humour too… 😆

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