Tone and Connection


Authoress’ Note: I’ve already written a little about this particular subject in a post entitled “Getting out of the Labyrinth”.  That was mostly a personal update with some dancing on the side.  This post is going to be all dancing.  I’m hoping that writing down some personal analysis and repeating what I’ve learned will help solidify it.

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To truly be knowledgable about something (or someone) you need to understand its multiple levels.  That’s part of what makes biology an incredibly difficult subject.  We have multiple systems in our body: the skeletal, muscular, neurological, cardiovascular, respiratory, endocrine, and reproductive.  On a microscopic level, we have the workings and actions of our cells, which makes all functions of our body possible.  All this consider, it really is no wonder why medical doctors need a copious amount of schooling, and even then, doctors often specialize.  I look at my dancing the same way.

To be a truly great and versatile dancer, I need to gain a firm understanding of dancing’s multiple levels.  Physically, most of the steps come easily to me.  Mentally and technically, my teacher’s explanations concerning why a certain step has to be done a certain way is understandable.  Kinesthetically, I’m completely in the dark.  Victor and I never really went over this aspect of dance because I was just starting up again after a year of not dancing.  Nick and I never went over it either.  José was the first teacher to really go in-depth about physical connection during my exchange lesson a couple of weeks ago.  In my related post, I told you that I didn’t quite understand it.  Now it’s a bit more clear, though not entirely.  As I said in my note, I want to try to write all this down.  Also, I am open to constructive correction/criticism from anyone more knowledgable than I.

One of the key aspects of ballroom dancing is that physical connection, and I love it.  It also takes a great deal of trust between the two parties (more on this later).  However, that connection is much more than the joining of hands.  I’m not completely sure where a majority of the man’s signaling comes from, his left, which holds my right, or his right, which supports my left and is placed on my shoulder-blade.  From my experience, it seems there is a good deal of both.  However, José mainly focused on what the dancer’s do with the former.  This is where resistance comes in.  As the follower, I need to give the lead a bit of physical resistance through my right hand, tone.  Again, I’m not sure how much, but I’m guessing it depends from person to person.  By giving such resistance, I make myself more privy to his lead.  That way, it becomes easier for both of us.  This was sort of hard to understand until I thought about an electrical plug.  There needs to be a firm connection to both the electrical circuit and receiving device for the plug to really be of any use.  How does this help my dancing?

“Feel it,” that’s what José said to me.  If I can get better at connection and tone, feeling, then I won’t have to rely on my knowledge of all the steps I have so heavily.  This is because ideal resistance will be enough of a signal for me to initiate the rest of the step.  (Gosh, I just realized that I sound like such a scientist right now!)  In plain English, the tone I give him will be enough for him to effectively tell me what to do, so I can do my half.  As for the issue of trust that I brought up earlier, you have to be able to trust your dance partner enough to where you get the heck out of your head enough to mainly focus on enjoying the dance while still being mentally aware.  Yeah, I’m not too good at that yet, so that sentence was mainly directed towards me.

This concludes the authoress’ notes of connection and tone.

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