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Using the

Topline Dance Frame

Simple exercises with quick results Youlie Mouzafiarova with David Pullinger

Dancers: Dr SeHyoung and Adele Jang Don Photos: Greg Veit Photography, London Booklet available from: Š Youlie Mouzafiarova and David Pullinger 2014

Using the Topline Dance Frame Congratulations if you have just purchased a Topline Dance Frame. This will undoubtably help you or your students achieve a strong, stable and better controlled dancing frame, particularly for the five Ballroom dances. This is as true for those preparing for their first wedding dance as it is for social dancers and committed competitors. It will do so, provided: 1. it is set up correctly for use for each individual person, which is fully shown and described in a video at 2. it is used during practice sessions, both solo and with a partner 3. the Frame is used during the following exercises in order to maximise the benefits. It is helpful to wear the Frame while in classes and practice sessions. How­ever there are some specific movements that are valuable to develop on one’s own and then practice with a partner. Using a properly fitted Topline Dance Frame in the exercises in this booklet will speed up the development of a strong stable upper body frame. It is an invaluable aid to preventing unnecessary movement in the sides of the body, shoulders and arms, by giving instant physical feedback to the wearer. By learning to stop these unnecessary movements when the Frame is felt as resistance, the top body becomes stable and provides better connection and balance for each partner.

Improve Rotations and Sways What marks out high level dancers in Ballroom is the stability of their torso and strong shaping around it through rotation and sway. Rotations and sways, in particular, seem to cause the most problem in developing a stable upper body frame especially when dancing a movement that requires them in combination. Rotations and sways are also essential movements to: • help to balance the body • aid gradual weight transfer that gives the dance more flight • develop continuity and precise timing. Simple exercises with quick results

The temptation appears to be to try and re-create the visual shape seen in, or demonstrated by, well-known dancers through upper body movement – rather than through footwork, ankle action, knee movement and pelvis changes. The value of using the Topline Dance Frame lies in learning to understand, locate and feel the movement in the body where it should be.

Extend your range of movement But use of the Frame does more than that. Using the Frame you can also gradually extend your range of movement. While practicing isolated rotations on pages 4-5, for example, if the wearer stops (as they should) when resistance with the Frame is felt, then regular practice should extend the limit of their rotation and develop greater flexibility and strength of the rotational muscles in the body. Having purchased such a useful and effective product, we highly recommend you invest time in doing these exercises and your dancing will be greatly rewarded.

Practice exercises solo and then with partner Begin by doing the exercises slowly so every stage can be understood and controlled. Every exercise is for both leaders and followers, even if the photo shows one person. You might ask why this is useful, when some of the movements do not occur in the figures you regularly dance. There are two main reasons: • doing exercises on both sides balances the body, which should always be done when exercising, in order to produce equal flexibility, strength and control; • being capable of moving on either side facilitates learning or developing new figures for higher level competition. After practicing the movement solo, then do so in a couple. Terms and abbreviations We use the term Ballroom when referring to the 5 International Standard Ballroom dances, noting in many countries this is called Standard. Abbreviations L and R are used for left and right, and LF and RF for left foot and right foot.

© Youlie Mouzafiarova and David Pullinger 2014



Getting control of the body during rotations Rotations of the chest and lower body are achieved by tightening and stretching the diagonal muscles that lie between the pelvis and the ribcage. In rotations of the chest the pelvis is kept still while the body above the >

waist rotates. In lower body rotations, the ribcage remains stationary while the pelvis and legs rotate.

© Youlie Mouzafiarova and David Pullinger 2013

Chest rotation Stand in Ballroom posture, feet apart and weight equally distributed. Stage 1 (Counts 1–2) Turn chest to R Rotate only the chest to R as far as physically possible, focusing on rotating the core and stretching upper arms out to the side away from the torso.

Lower body rotation Stand in Ballroom posture, feet almost together and weight equally distributed.

Torso rotation Stand in Ballroom posture, feet together and weight equally distributed, with knees slightly compressed.

Pelvis rotation Stand in Ballroom posture, feet together and weight equally distributed, with knees slightly compressed.

Stage 1 (Counts 1–2) Twist lower body and feet to R Rotate the lower body and feet to R from the waist, as much as possible without affecting the upper body.

Stage 1 (Counts 1–2) Rotate torso to R Using the upper leg muscles, rotate the whole torso from pelvis upwards as much as possible rotating chest, shoulders and arms only as part of the torso.

Stage 1 (Counts 1–2) Rotate pelvis to R Using the upper leg and diagonal core muscles, rotate only the pelvis level to the floor, keeping chest facing forwards, as much as possible without affecting either the feet or the upper body.

Keep the pelvis facing forward without movement.

Keep chest and head still and facing forward.

When the Frame is felt to give some resistance, and just before your arms start to rotate separately from the torso, stop the rotation.

When the Frame is felt to give some resistance, and just before your arms start to rotate separately from the torso, stop the rotation.

Stage 2 (Counts 3 - 4) Return to starting position.

Stage 2 (Counts 3–4) Return to starting position.

Rotate to alternate sides, rotating as much as possible to R and L.

Keep feet and head still and facing forward. Stage 2 (Counts 3–4) Return to starting position.

Stage 2 (Counts 3–4) Return to starting position.

Developments Vary the time, by doing rotations slowly using Counts 1–4 (using Slow Foxtrot music) or quick sharp rotations, using Counts & 1 Hold 2 & 3 Hold 4 (using Tango music).

Rotate towards one side from facing forward to only one direction and back. Throughout keep pelvis level to the floor, head still and facing forward (or diagonal L) and spine and neck stretched up.


Simple exercises with quick results

© Youlie Mouzafiarova and David Pullinger 2014



Stepping outside partner Stepping forwards to one side of a partner is known as a Forward Step in Contra Body Movement Position (CBMP). In order to maintain body contact >

and a strong and stable frame, there is chest and torso rotation between partners when preparing to make the step.

This movement can initially feel a big twist because the feet, pelvis and chest each face a different direction, with the side of the body feeling stretched. Because a Forward Step in CBMP is often combined with lowering, particularly for example in Slow Waltz and Quickstep, dancers can also sometimes be seen to lower their © Youlie Mouzafiarova and David arms through relaxing their core Pullinger 2013lowering. muscles when The Frame is very helpful in maintaining the shape of the upper body when rotating the chest to keep the arms at the correct angle with the sides of the body and when lowering to keep the arms level.

Repeat by continuing on Count 2 to rise on RF, collect and then on Count 3 step side and slightly forwards using toe of LF. At the same time rotate pelvis and chest to L to achieve the starting position. Then repeat the same movement backwards, using the same starting position but moving weight onto the RF and

Stage 1 Stand in Ballroom posture, with feet apart on toes (flat for Tango), LF to side and slightly forward, with weight more on LF (about 60–80%).

stepping backwards into CBMP with LF. End with weight split between heel of RF and toe of LF. To continue, lower heel of LF when collecting, release heel of LF and step backwards and slightly to the side with RF onto toe and start again. Then change feet in the starting position by ¼ turn to R and repeat with rotation to L, both forwards and backwards.

Note that there are other key aspects of this movement that are not mentioned, as of not of direct relevance to the use of the Frame.


Simple exercises with quick results

Stage 2 (Count &) Transfer weight to LF, lower heel of LF and collect RF to LF, compressing both knees.

Stage 3 (Count 1) Step forwards with RF in one track, using heel then flat of RF.

At the same time rotate chest to R (around 1/16 turn) towards partner.

At the same time rotate whole torso (from the pelvis upwards) to R a further 1/16.

Ensure spine and neck stay stretched and head remains diagonal left.

Complete the movement when there is 70–90% weight transfer.

When practicing with partner, ensure bodies remain in contact.

The feet should now be facing forward, the chest rotated 1/8 to R, and the pelvis half-way between the feet and chest. (The differences between feet and pelvis and pelvis and chest should each be 1/16. This is the Contra Body Movement Position – CBMP).

Developments Start with metronomic sway (see pages 10–11), except for Tango. Option for footwork on Forward Step: staying on toes (as, for example, in Slow Foxtrot Hover Cross and Weaves).

© Youlie Mouzafiarova and David Pullinger 2014



Pendulum Sway no rise

Pendulum Sway with foot collection and rise

The key aspect of Pendulum Sway in Ballroom dances is that it is initiated by transferring body weight to the the inside edge of one foot and continued >

by work of the ankle and knee, which gradually changes the position of the pelvis and consequently the angle of the rest of the upper body. Particularly in Slow Waltz, there is foot collection, rise onto toes and more sway. Add this onto previous exercise, starting with feet further apart.

Stand in Ballroom position with feet about a shoulder width apart and facing forward and weight equally distributed, knees slightly bent.

Stage 1 Move the weight felt though the RF onto the inside edge of whole foot, rolling the ankle inwards, which initiates a movement of the knee and pelvis to L. Then gradually transfer weight from the RF to the LF, using first the inside edge of whole foot, then ball, then toe of RF, with slight body rise through the L knee. Allow the pelvis to swing further to L, thus creating body sway to R. Nothing else should move independently, with both sides staying stretched up and arms in the same starting position relative to the chest. Resistance felt in use of the Frame will let you know if there is any unnecessary movement in the shoulders or elbows.

Repeat by compressing L knee and centre weight and then use inside edge of the LF to swing the pelvis to the R.


Simple exercises with quick results

Stage 2 Continue from Stage 1 by rising onto ball of LF. Swing the pelvis further to L and bring RF on toe towards LF, sliding it with some pressure on the floor and releasing heel of RF.

Stage 3 Continue to rise onto toes of both feet, with knees slightly compressed, and rotate pelvis slightly to L and forwards to bring the RF to close to LF without weight (for this exercise). The more the pelvis moves to L and forwards, the greater the body sway to R in order to stay in balance.

Repeat by lowering, compressing the knee and extending free leg to the side, and transfer weight into the middle to regain starting position. Repeat alternately to one side and the other.

Developments Diagonal sway Do the same exercise starting with feet parallel with one forward, the other backward. Use transition of weight forwards and backwards (instead of to L and R) to create diagonal pelvis swing. This kind of body sway is used in Slow Foxtrot in all kinds of Feather Step and Three Step, for example.

Š Youlie Mouzafiarova and David Pullinger 2014



Metronomic Sway

There are two kinds of sway, pendulum and metronomic. One sway is when the ankles and knees initiate a movement of the pelvis and whole torso to sway to one side or the other with the top of the head staying almost in place. This is the Pendulum Sway, that is done, for example, in steps 2 and 3 of Natural and Reverse Turns in Slow Waltz. The name comes from the idea of a pendulum swinging, with the pelvis felt as a weight hanging from the head. Imagine the pendulum inside an old grandfather clock with its weight at the bottom.

The other is when the whole body from top of head to foot sways from side to side in a straight line in same direction as the transfer of weight. This is known as Metronomic Sway. The name comes from the old metronomes with a straight metal arm with weight on it ticking from one side to the other. Here the head acts as the weight. Metronomic sway is used extensively. For example by advanced dancers in the final step of every Slow Waltz figure that finishes with feet apart, as well as Tipple Chassés in Quickstep and Reverse Turns in Viennese Waltz.

Some dancers see the sways of well-known dancers and try to copy them, but may do so by dropping one elbow or breaking the line of one side of the body. This is because they don’t know exactly how the shape has been created. By distinguishing between the two kinds of sway and understanding the mechanics of the movement and which parts of the body moves to create them, they can shape correctly. Here the Topline Dance Frame is particularly helpful. When resistance is felt in it, stop and assess what the movement is causing the resistance and repeat until none is felt or seen while creating either sway.


Simple exercises with quick results

Stage 1 Stand with feet apart on toes, weight equally distributed (note below the options for footwork).

Stage 2 (Count 2) Maintaining the head and upper body as a whole unit, initiate the start of the sway by transferring body weight to LF, and compressing L knee and lowering heel of LF, until there is a straight line from toe of RF to top of head. (Keep R knee straight only for the purposes of this exercise.) There should be no movement in the frame, such as lowering of the elbow by itself or breaking the line of the side of the body.

Repeat alternately to one side and the other.

Developments Tipple Chassés Add a Tipple Chassé and practice Quickstep or Slow Waltz Tipple Chassés to R and L alternately.

© Youlie Mouzafiarova and David Pullinger 2014



Promenade Position Promenade Position requires flexibility and muscle control between the ribcage and pelvis. Otherwise an inflexible side pulls the shoulder, which in turn may drag the elbow down. Using the Topline Dance Frame, first in Rotations >

and then in the exercise below, will help to extend the range of movement and achieve a correct Promenade Position in all dances.

© Youlie Mouzafiarova and David Pullinger 2013

Stand in Ballroom position solo or (as shown) with partner, with feet together and weight on leader’s RF and follower’s LF.

Note, that there are other important aspects to Promenade Position that are not mentioned here. The exercise is intended to develop flexibility and control in the different rotations with the use of the Frame for a strong and stable hold.

Stage 1 Rotate pelvis and feet 1/8 turn Using the muscles between ribcage and pelvis, rotate the pelvis and feet 1 /8 turn, to the L for leader and to the R for follower. Keep chest in the starting position facing each other, using the Topline Frame to give feedback when there is unnecessary movement in the shoulders and arms. Follower turn head to R, ensuring no movement in chest, shoulders or arms as this is done. Leader turn head slightly more to L. This is Promenade Position (PP). For Slow Waltz, Slow Foxtrot and Quickstep practice, rise onto toes at the same time.

Repeat by closing free of free leg to standing leg and pivot 1/8 turn on standing leg to bring the feet together into starting position (Parallel Position). With sufficient flexibility, only the feet and pelvis will rotate, as the shoulders and arms will almost be in the Parallel Position. Repeat until feeling comfortable and looking easy and natural, first using Stage Counts then to slow music.


Simple exercises with quick results

Stage 2 Step to side in PP and rotate chest towards partner Step in this Promenade Position, keeping feet diagonal to the direction of movement, leader with LF, follower with RF. For Slow Waltz, Slow Foxtrot and Quickstep practice, lower as the moving foot passes the foot of the standing leg before stepping. releasing heel of RF. At the same time, rotate only the chest (and not the top line) towards partner, leader to R and follower to L to avoid any extra rotation outwards.

Stage 3 Step forwards in CBMP and Promenade Position Lower and step forwards and across in Promenade Position, using heel lead, leader with RF, follower with LF. As feet pass each other, rotate pelvis slightly towards partner, leader to R, follower to L. Because this is a step across the body and standing leg, a strong stretch could be felt in the sides, which will reduce with practice.

Developments It is also useful to practice the same exercise in Counter Promenade Position, leader rotating pelvis and feet 1/8 of a turn to R (follower to L), as preparation for advanced figures as this position requires greater flexibility to make the necessary rotations.

© Youlie Mouzafiarova and David Pullinger 2014



Oversway In Ballroom dances, one usually sways when rising. The Oversway is different in that is a sway while lowering. In addition, as the name suggests, the sway is much more than normal. For these two reasons, the top line, side body >

lines and hold are often seen to be broken. The description below will obtain the correct movement and position and the Frame is very useful in giving feedback.

© Youlie Mouzafiarova and David Pullinger 2013

Stand with feet together (and, if with partner, in Parallel Position). Stage 1 (SW Count 3) Take one step side in PP on toes (Tango use heels) using Metronomic Sway (page 9), leader with LF and follower with RF. There should be a straight line at an angle to the floor from the inside edge of the free foot to the top of the head. The position of the pelvis is diagonal to the floor preparatory to its swing across to create the Oversway line on the next Stage.

Stage 2 (SW Count 1) Begin the movement into Oversway line by bringing the whole body first perpendicular to floor with the pelvis level. At the same time leader lowers heel of LF and starts to compress the L knee, follower the heel of RF and R knee. Throughout there should be no independent movements in the upper body. Use any resistance felt in the Frame to give feedback for when sides, shoulders and arms are moving unnecessarily.

Stage 3 (SW Count 2) Allow the pelvis to continue to swing (L for leader and R for follower) and relax the muscles around the hip joint slightly to allow pelvis to rotate to L (for both partners). As a result the chest will also rotate slightly to L for both partners.

Stage 4 (SW Count 3) Continue to let the pelvis swing and rotate by relaxing the muscles around the hip joint even more and so create bigger sway. Ensure both partners’ pelvises move towards each other and bodies away to counterbalance the increased sway.

If practicing with a partner (as in photos), ensure each pelvis swings and rotates with the other’s, remaining in contact with the same degree of rotation to maintain balance as a couple.

Allow the chest and top line rotate further, finding the right amount of rotation to retain balance and create long body lines. Allow the inside edge of toe of leader’s RF and follower’s LF to slide along the floor away from the standing leg.

Repeat by closing feet, rising and changing weight to obtain starting position and begin again. For Tango, keep feet flat with no foot rise and change into the Oversway line sharply.


Simple exercises with quick results

© Youlie Mouzafiarova and David Pullinger 2014


The Topline Dance Frame The Topline Dance Frame’s lightweight, modular design and adjustability assist dancers maintain stillness in their top line. It was launched at the British National Dance Championships, Blackpool, in November 2010 – after two years of research, development and testing by dance professionals and competitors. They have been sold to dancers and dance teachers in over 50 countries. The frame, which is available in three sizes to suit all dancers, can be purchased from trade stands at major dance championships or Dancers Dr SeHyoung and Adele Jang Don SeHyoung and Adele are world-class stars in Ballroom dance and the DanceSport field. In 2011, they were representatives for Great Britain to the World Championships in three categories: Professional 10 Dance, Latin Show Dance and Ballroom Show Dance – the only couple in England to achieve this. Previously they were: Professional Rising Star American Style Champions in 2008; the first representatives for Korea to the World Professional 10 (Ballroom & Latin) Dance Championships in 2009; United Kingdom Open Professional 10 Dance Champions in 2010 and in 2011 also British Professional Classical (Ballroom) Show Dance Champions. As the only couple who dance 10 International Styles and 9 American Style dances, they have been hailed as “the nineteen (19) dance specialists”. Authors Youlie Mouzafiarova and David Pullinger Youlie is a well-known teacher, coach and IDTA Fellow and Examiner giving lectures, seminars and workshops throughout UK and Europe. She lives in London, UK, where she teaches social dancers, coaches amateur and professional competitor couples and takes dancers through their professional exams. Her competitive couples in Kazakhstan, Greece and UK have been finalists and winners in local, national and international ballroom dance competitions and championships. She was herself a 10 dance champion in national and international competitions and for six years in the top 20 of the Professional 10 Dance World Championship.. Her books aim at improving quality of movement, precision and musicality for all levels of dancer. They include Fifty Latin Dance Exercises 2012 and Tango Flow 2014 (Argentine Tango), available from IDTA and DSI-London as well as Amazon. Co-author David Pullinger is a dance student and writer.

Topline Dance Frame exercise booklet