She ain’t heavy she’s my partner By Keith Morris

Many many times I have heard this from people of all levels. The cause of this I hinted at during my last article. Many articles on these pages are based from a man’s stand point. In this one I have tried to give the ladies view point as well. Normally this is on the inside of an open reverse turn i.e. an open telemark. I hinted at it in my last little bit of writing that caused a “war and peace” type debate with Benoit Papineau.

Is there turn on a turn or a change of direction?

The lady is of course travelling backwards. In a previous article (to spin or not to spin that is the question.) I broached the subject of there being no such thing as a backwards step, rather the foot being placed behind, extending the leg from the hip and the weight taken to the standing foot. This prevents the shoulders from carrying the body weight past the standing foot. As we all know the ladies head is extended to the left in a closed Ballroom hold. Many ladies when dancing an open turn leave their head to the left until the last minute.

Is there a head turn for the ladies?

I don’t believe that there is. Then how do the ladies change from a closed to an open position. Whilst taking the first step the ladies as I have said extend their right foot from the hip the left foot scribing an arc on the floor to the point that the feet close. At this point they pick a point out on the wall and never taking their noses off that point. I say nose as many times ladies will follow the “spot” with their eyes, the eyes turn inside the head causing the heads to turn early. This I know is very hard to achieve as the brain tells the head it is not turning as the eyes are fixed and not the nose as I have stated earlier in this article, when the body has rotated under the head as far as it comfortably can and the lady is now looking over the back of her right hand. Thus the lady has changed her body position without dropping her weight back but not altering her body position in relation to her partner. This also gives the lady a more serene and relaxed look. This can be seen well in a video on YouTube of Benny Tolmyer and Sylvia Sylve from 1963 when demonstrating in Holland. click here

It can be caused by the man!

Now the problem of the lady feeling ”heavy” in the man’s arms isn’t necessarily the ladies fault. It can be caused by the man. I hear the men saying no never it’s always the ladies they lean on me. However if the man fails to rise at the end of step one and anticipates the turn he will pull the lady off her feet giving the impression that she is behind him.

How do we remedy this?

As I have already said I don’t believe that there is a turn, rather a change of direction. Many times the man will swivel or twist on his right foot in the endeavour to make a turn. With the use of CBM on the first step the man can take his second step on the same line as his first step (diagonal centre) and taking the third step diagonal wall in promenade position. Thus we have transferred from a closed position to an open without a twist or a turn thus enabling both partners to keep a strong positive top line without distortion and keeping their bodies together.
What both partners should remember at this point is not to collapse at the beginning of the third step but holding the lowering to the end of the third step which is when the feet are parallel.

 
Contributor
Brigitt Mayer-Karakis is the author of the award winning book "Ballroom Icons", and chief archivist for the WDC Dance History project.
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