Frame. One of the most essential tools for a ballroom dancer…and probably one of those things you hear about in EVERY lesson you are in! But what exactly goes into building a good dance frame? One of our students created a great acronym for you to use as a mental checklist when practicing all of your dances with your partner.
F: Focus on communicating with your partner—When dancing with another person, frame is the ultimate communication tool we have. It’s how the leader tells their partner exactly where they need to go. Yet, for most, it is the one factor that tends to fall the most. We think of the footwork, the timing, the posture, the head position, etc…but without the frame, we lose our partner in the mix of it all. Whether you are the leader or a follower, your frame is the open line of communication that should never break. The man is the sturdy frame that holds the beautiful picturesque woman.
R: Radius of frame should remain big to facilitate communication—Whether dancing smooth or rhythm, your frame needs to stay big and stretched the entire time. One of the first things that tend to drop while moving are the ELBOWS! The elbows drop to the side and moving around becomes more of a chore than effortless. When you stretch your arms out from your sides and keep them up as parallel to floor as possible. BUT the key is to also not stretch them to where your elbows are behind you…that can pull the lady off of her balance. You want to extend out and toward your partner to create a radius that is balanced between both you and your partner so both of you are in balance.
A: Attach and establish firm connection to your partner—Since the frame is THE MOST IMPORTANT tool when it comes to dancing with a partner, it makes sense that connecting to your partner is absolutely necessary to communicate with your partner. For the ladies, making sure to have their left hand on the man’s shoulder and maintaining as much arm connection as possible will strengthen the line of communication. For men, making sure to attach to the ladies shoulder blade with the right hand and keeping the left hand at the ladies eye level will keep the lady more in tune to what you want her to do.
M: Maintain strong frame throughout your dances—As we know, we all start out with everything in place and “perfect”…then we start moving. All of a sudden, the frame drops, the eyes go down, the posture weakens, and it’s tough to bring it back up…which makes sense considering EVERYTHING ELSE you are thinking about. But remember, the frame is ESSENTIAL in communicating through dance. The more you practice maintaining frame, the better communication you will have with your partner!
E: Engage posture, sternum up, head high and belly tight!—This is ultimately the best thing to think before you walk into a lesson, perform your showcase, or walk out onto the competition floor! As mentioned in the other letters for F.R.A.M.E, standing tall and erect are essential…and keeping your core engaged (belly tight) is a big part in maintaining good frame and posture.