National Dance Council of America’s (NDCA) Old Rule:
“Partners must start in a closed or open facing hold. No entrances are allowed in Closed American Smooth …
“Closed Silver – Single or double hand hold in facing and shadow positions may not comprise more than 50% of a routine. Routine must be comprised of at least 50% Closed Position.”
The New Rule, in play as of July 1st, 2018:
“For ALL Closed American Style Smooth Bronze and Silver levels all couples must start in the traditional Ballroom closed hold, including the lady’s left hand being placed on the man’s right shoulder, and the first four bars they dance must be in this hold. Double hand hold and other alternative hand holds do not count towards this requirement. For all Closed Bronze and Silver levels, 12 complete bars (including the required 4 bars to commence) of the first minute of music must be danced in the traditional closed hold as already defined.”
Why the new rule?
Consensus of opinion is that dancers will always push boundaries in order to gain a perceived advantage … there is nothing wrong with that; but when a dancer feels like they need to break the boundaries by exceeding the closed work restrictions in order to win a Closed Bronze or Silver competition, then the rules as they currently stand need greater clarity in order to level the playing field and make it a fairer contest.
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So now, seeing as we’re bringing smooth back into the mix after a 2 year hiatus (we did get our feet wet back in February at NYDF), The Icon has decided that it would be a good idea to limit ourselves to closed division for the next couple of comps.
His reasoning is that even though that means we’d have to restructure our existing routines to comply with the New Rule (well, not so much restructuring, just moving parts around a bit), getting back to basics would be invaluable — in other words, focusing on meticulous syllabus figures coupled with flawless technique.
I’ll be the first to admit that open choreography has allowed me to fall into some pretty bad habits, as well as get away with all sorts of murder. I’ve forgotten what I have to bring to the table as a working partner in a closed relationship. My dancing has been more along the lines of a soloist than team player. I know my part, The Icon does his part, and somehow when we do meander our way back to any kind of closed work, the heat is just about over and it’s on to the next.
Well anyway, with focus on basics and execution thereof in mind, the last couple of lessons have been total immersion in Waltz and FoxTrot. And believe me when I tell you that I walk out of that studio with eyes rolled back in my head, mouth open and drool just running down my chin.
Frame and Connection
Shaping / CBMP
Our Waltz and FoxTrot have different opening gambits, but the meat and potatoes of the routines are pretty much the same:
Open Right Turn
Promenade Chasse to Heel Turn to Weave
Double Handed Swivels to Heel Turn to Twinkle ….. and probably this will be the new home for the opening choreography.
So far, The Icon has been hammering me with the five points of connection:
Lady’s right hand and gent’s left hand;
Lady’s left wing bone fits into gent’s right hand;
Lady’s left elbow rests on top of gent’s right elbow;
Lady’s left wrist rests lightly on gent’s upper left arm; and last but not least, Lady’s left side is plastered to gent’s right side.
I’m constantly dancing out of The Icon’s hold. And without that strong frame, connection is lost and I can’t follow his lead. I find it ironic (and frustrating) that I’ve finally managed to 85% of the time maintain frame and connection in rhythm, but am having such difficulty in smooth.
And I will not even get into the basic forward and backward running steps exercise he’s given me to build my timing, feet (heel, ball-toe, toe, toe-heel) and arms/body shaping (CBMP) for FoxTrot.
Actually, just reviewing to this point has pretty much fried my mental circuits, so we’ll continue this next week.
Hopefully by then, things will have started to gel … just like with all those other “impossible” things I never thought I’d be able to grasp.
See you then!