It’s All About the Frame

One of the very first lessons in ballroom dancing is learning the 4 connection points of the dance frame.  I remember when we first began taking lessons our teacher would always say, “It’s all about the frame;” I really didn’t get it at the time but now I can say, “ It is all about the dance frame.”  This is how 2 ballroom dancers become one.  This is your communication. 

Dance Frame Basics

 Four connection points

o   Man’s left hand holding woman’s right

o   Man’s right hand on woman’s left shoulder blade (men:  keep elbow up, parallel with the floor and fingers together!)

o   Woman’s left elbow on man’s right elbow

o   Woman’s left hand on inside edge (near top) of man’s right shoulder(I put my thumb in front of Dan’s deltoid muscle)

As dancers, you will also be offset from each other.  We always use the illustration, if a man was wearing a tie, it would rest on the ladies right shoulder. This allows the man to see what lies ahead in line of dance. If I was straight in front of Dan, he would not see over my head and hair.  We for sure would run into problems.

When you begin the dance, the leader does not say, “Hey, do an underarm turn.” Or, “Watch out, we are about to run into upcoming dancers.”  There is no verbal communication, It’s all about the frame. The leader will use connection point one, to lead the underarm turn.  He will use connection point two, to hold onto the follower and slow her down to avoid a collision with upcoming dancers.  

It is fun when it works.  But it takes practice and time. 

What we have learned about the dance frame: 

Droopy Elbow Syndrome: We have to hold our own weight- It is very easy, after time to let your connection point three, which is your elbows, droop.  If I put all my arm weight on Dan, he will not be able to carry the weight for very long. He will get tired and down the elbows go.  It will be difficult for Dan to lead.  

Noodle Arm-We call it the dreaded noodle arm.  Basically there is no tone in my arm. When Dan moves forward, and there is no tone, he ends up stepping on my toes or a collusion occurs.   When this happens, It becomes difficult for the man to lead.  

Dan’s connection point two needs to stay up on my shoulder blade. There is a phrase, “The hand needs to stay in North America, and not in Brazil.”  Fingers are kept together.  If Dan’s fingers are spread apart it will be hard for him to lead.  If he heads to Brazil, it will be hard for him to lead.  I also have to put a bit of weight into his connection point, two.  I do mean a bit.  

Great connection- a beautiful dance

Great communication-a beautiful dance

Great Lead and Follow-a beautiful dance

Two dancers become one. The Dance frame is how you stay connected. 

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