My Dancing Story and Lack of Progress
When I started ballroom dancing I was told that if I keep practicing and follow the instruction I will learn and enjoy dancing. The sad reality is that I could not close to making any progress and becoming a good dancer was out of reach. It was clear that without understanding and ability to move I will not be able to progress beyond the “mechanical” stage of movement. The only option available was a high volume of unconscious repetition for years to come but the dancing movement will not be fully functional. Also, my body will be subject to a significant wearing out physically and mentally.
Whenever I danced with a partner I never felt “right” and I had experiences ranging from muscle pain discomfort to emotional distress. Lack of improvement and at peaks of frustration during private and group sessions I questioned conventional methods of instruction, walked out of group classes and I was reluctant to get on the floor during the dance parties.
A Traditional Dancing Instruction and a High Volume of Unconscious Repetition
Most of the ballroom dancing instructors acquired their skills by a high volume of continuous and unconscious repetition. A significant drawback of the training by unconscious repetition is that you might be forcing the body to move in your “own” way and it can lead to injuries. Majority of dancers who practice by a high volume of unconscious repetition require a presence of an instructor during each training session. On the other hand, if you study functional anatomy and practice with conscious repetition you will be more motivated to train on your own. Many accomplished ballroom dancers were surprised to know that I am able to practice for extended periods of time by myself.
The Science of Human Movement Reveals We Are Anatomically Built to Dance
The study of kinesiology, a science of human movement, led me to understanding that dancing movements can be described scientifically by kinesiology terms as changing positions with proper weight shift and human movement is referred as to kinetic or functional chain movement.
The research and analysis of human movement made an unexpected discovery. As I was learning functional anatomy, I realized that our bodies are anatomically built for dancing movements and if you study how the body works and let the body function accordingly it would move naturally and effortlessly. If you identify joints and muscles which are responsible for a specific moment the methods of training can be defined and developed.
Again, it is not training how to move the body by constant repetition. Rather, studying the human anatomy how muscles and joints interconnect to produce functional movement and allow the body move anatomically as it is supposed to. This approach is fundamentally different from traditional training by a high volume of unconscious repetition.
No Progress in Sight and Functional Movement
My ability to move was not making a progress after years of unconscious repetition and I had a great deal of trouble to dance even the “beginner” figures, and unable to lead a partner. It was obvious to me that I ought to stop practicing the “beginner” steps unless I develop a proper functional movement or my success in dancing is doomed for failure. The traditional methods of ballroom dancing instruction are ineffective because they are based on training “shoulders”, “knees” or “hips” and it produces improper movement. The science of human movement defines that any body movement is accomplished by a group of joints and muscles. For example, lifting the leg is not accomplished by a single command. If you don’t know all the joints and muscles of the group responsible for a specific movement you will not be to dance properly and it can force the body into dysfunction and injuries.
This revelation led me to identifying joints and muscles, and to develop exercises for the basic movements of various ballroom dances. The prevailing misconception is that if you don’t learn dancing movement at a young age you will be unable to make any progress when you become older. Contrary to this general belief my body began responding to this training approach and showing signs of progress. To my surprise, I was approached by a number of individuals who asked me if I would help them to learn and improve their functional movement and dancing skills. In addition to moving with more ease and precision my overall coordination, agility, speed, balance and quickness improved considerably.
Dancing and Beyond Difference
I have been dancing or attempting to dance for the last 15 years. The real story is that new and experienced dancers make no progress as far as the functional body movement is concerned. Majority of the beginners stop dancing due to the lack of progress and a clear understanding what needs to be done to improve.
Those who decide to continue practicing by unconscious repetition drive their bodies into a physical and mental plateau, and often leading to injuries. On the emotional side, they have to live with a quiet desperation syndrome and cover up their feelings for years to come. This creates an atmosphere of disconnection with reality and contributes to further frustration, and discomfort.
Dancing and Beyond is not about drilling dancing movements to perfection. Rather, learning how is the body designed to move anatomically and avoiding an “unconscious” way of moving the body. On the other hand, if you focus on practicing dance figures without proper body functional movement it will lead to lack of progress, a loss of motivation and a life of illusion.
Dancing and Beyond is a much more effective alternative to a high volume of repetitive training that prevents reaching the “the ceiling” and avoiding overuse injuries as well. Also, Dancing and Beyond reduces significantly the training curve and provides a plenty of room of progress by improving the understanding how to move naturally and efficiently.
Weight Shift is Key to Efficient Functional Movement
It goes without saying that you can only move naturally if you the body weight is shifted properly. Dancing and Beyond focuses on learning and changing positions with a proper weight shift. In order to transfer the weight efficiently specific joints and muscles must work in a coordinated fashion and all elements of coordination have to be brought into play. I was able to define certain elements of coordination and functional movement related to various ballroom dances to establish a proper sequence of the weight shift.
It is not widely understood that you have to shift the center of body weight located about two inches below the belly button in the pelvis region. This is key area for efficient movement and if it is not properly activated the movement will not be functional. Shifting the center of body weight includes certain elements and cannot be done through a series of exercises by a high volume of unconscious repetition. As I kept learning human movement system I discovered that the body is programmed and designed to shift weight naturally between different positions if all weight shift elements work together efficiently.
Also, this training approach of functional movement will make the body healthier and more coordinated to be used outside the dancing such as running, swimming, weight lifting, basketball, hockey, soccer, tennis, golf, baseball and any human movement related activity. This philosophy of functional movement proved to be effective not only to improve dancing. I incorporate dancing movements when designing a personal training fitness program for a new client. Training dancing movements make the body functional and lay the foundation to build functional and physical fitness.
Dancing Movements and Gender Differences
Physical dimensions and genetic composition including anatomical differences can affect movement and performance but it should not cause an inability to participate in a given sport or physical activity.
These issues need further research and one of my findings is that anatomical alignment difference of the pelvic girdle in males and females can affect dancing movement efficiency allowing women move more natural and less effort than men.