Ballroom Dance > Latin Hands

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by AngelSakuya, Jun 22, 2009.

  1. AngelSakuya

    AngelSakuya New Member

    ok i have done some competitions an it just occurred to me: i never know what to do with my arms/ hands in latin dances. :confused:

    my partner said let it flow and i try to but i end up looking rather stupid..

    any advice? :p
  2. DanceAngel

    DanceAngel New Member

    Hi welcome to DF AngelSakuya.

    I'm not sure if this will help or if you already know this, but my pro tells me that I need to have a "sharp" look to my hands and arms and I've noticed that my hands are almost always bent at the wrist. But when it comes to hand and arm styling my pro choreographs the movements for me so all I have to do is put my personality with them.

    I would suggest asking your choreographer or coach what they think look good with particular movements.
  3. TAK

    TAK Member

    It is perfectly fine to ask a coach for help with arm styling. It has always been my weak point and advice like "just let it flow" is totally useless to me. I really need to know what I'm doing. I'm starting to be at the point where I can figure it out for myself, but if you have not given it much thought before, it is totally okay to let a coach spell it out for you. After all, they spell out what you should be doing with your feet and legs!
  4. etp777

    etp777 Active Member

    HATE arm styling. Defintely ask coach for help. :)
  5. klg

    klg New Member

    My Latin partner was having difficulty figuring out what to do with his arms a few months ago. I wrote him the following:

    Basic Principles of Dance Arms

    1) All arm movement starts from your back.

    Consequence: In Latin in general and in rumba especially, we generally raise the
    arm on the same side of the body as the leg we're walking onto because it is
    connected to the lat muscle that that is being engaged for 'back action'.
    Also, we always keep our arms in front of our back because they become
    disconnected from our back when they fall behind the spine.

    2) 'Energy' must travel through your fingertips.

    Discussion: Hands cup when they are relaxed. Cups look lazy and do not help to
    extend lines. On the other hand, stiff hands, with fingers locked in place,
    look tense and awkward. We strive for a happy medium: elegantly spaced,
    extended fingers. The correct feeling can be approximated by pulling on a
    couple fingertips of a relaxed hand.

    3) Arms help you balance.

    Applications: Hip and back action knocks your spine out of a vertical position.
    To help counterbalance the lateral tilt in the spine, we raise the arm of the
    standing leg. In a check, your arm extends up and behind you to help change
    your momentum (note - rotating your ribcage also helps with this). Also, in
    turns, we keep our arms close to our body so that we don't knock ourselves off

    4) Arms should create nice lines.

    Note: Extending your arms up or to the side obviously creates lines with your
    body. As the leader, though, you should simply try to compliment the
    follower's lines. Try to match her arms by extending your arms with
    complimentary angles, curvature, height, etc.

    5) Arms help show the rhythm of the dance.

    Disclaimer: I'm still working on this one. Though sometimes tight, rapid arm
    movements accentuate certain beats in the dancing, at other times still arms
    help to accentuate the rhythm that is going on in your back, hips, and/or legs.

    6) Arms help create a connection between you and your partner.

    Conclusion: I'll leave it to our coach to write a book on this one.
  6. latingal

    latingal Well-Known Member

    klg, some good points on a very wide and difficult to translate into text subject...
  7. anp73ga31

    anp73ga31 Active Member

    AngelSakuya: Totally feel your pain on this one! I have never known what to do with my hands because I'm not comfortable enough yet with all the other stuff to be able to just "let it flow". (Sorry! Kind of hard to "let it flow" when I'm still having to think about pointing my toes and keeping my feet turned a certain degree outward and keeping my knees a certain way and moving my hips a certain way AND remembering the steps!). The instructor I had before would never get into what I was supposed to do with my hands so I just left them by my side, which was fine in social dancing so I just let it go. Then I got into standard and it didnt matter anymore. Now that I'm working on the latin dances again and starting to do some little comps before the big one (Hotlanta), I told current instructor, "I need to know what to do with my arms!" and he is showing me, dance by dance. Finally! I'm starting to know what to do with my arms! 'Course, some of it seems to work just fine (rumba) and some of it I feel like I have a prostethis(sp?) attached to my shoulder because my arm and my brain cant get together and make it work (arms in mambo, etc where its too fast to fully extend and your bent arm goes across your body according to how your body is turned).

    Oh! Also wanted to say that from watching lots of youtube videos it has become apparent to me that everyone does it differently so unfortunately there is no ONE way to do your arms, it varies. Definitely ask your instructor, though, and he/she can get you started.
  8. contracheck

    contracheck New Member

    Agree!. I had a lot of problem with arm movements in Rumba and Cha Cha. Two instruction tapes helped me a lot:
    Latin Arm Styling by Diane Barron (C. Martin Video)
    Americn Style Rythm Technique by Ron Montez (Dance Vision)
  9. dlgodud

    dlgodud Active Member

    My guess is not too much or not to little.
  10. AngelSakuya

    AngelSakuya New Member

    hmm i will ask my teacher to see what she can show me then ;) im trying to figure out my arms in jive atm :rolleyes:

    anp73ga31: hahahahaha i noticed it on youtube videos as well that everyone does it differently and when i try to do the same as them.. it never looks good and im thinking why its looks stupid on me?
  11. For me, I think the biggest thing I don't like when I see arm styling, is it is done too much as an action, where as I believe arms should be more of a reaction to what you are doing with the rest of your body....

    For example, even on New Yorker, your upper body starts turning and then your hips twist and gives so much power that you arm should react into its position.... rather than trying to create the action from your arm!
  12. MYLNYU

    MYLNYU New Member

    Yea figuring out nice arms is a pain sometimes. The most important thing to remember is that it's not arms that get you from place to place, it's the pressure of your feet.
  13. DancingShoes

    DancingShoes New Member

    Arm styling is hard to get. Coach says "Go Big", but I always wind up looking girlie. I'm learning that working on upper body twist somehow helps with more definition to my styling. Got a long way to go.
  14. DanceAngel

    DanceAngel New Member

    I have to agree that arm styling is hard. My pro keeps telling me to stop using my ballet arms and make my movements "stronger."
  15. xxtupikxx

    xxtupikxx Member

    Perhaps a related questions. Why/Since when are the wrists "cocked" in latin dancing? (You see this particularly on NYorkers where the hand of most dancers doesn't continue the line made be the arm, but is instead bent inwards).

    I hope i am being clear. This trend of hand "cocking" seems rather strange and unnatural to me. Any insight would be appreciated.
  16. DanceAngel

    DanceAngel New Member

    I've had that same question for some time now. I do it anyway just because that is what I was told to do. My only guess is it looks nice. I hope someone else has the answer.
  17. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    I have learned that almost everything I do with my arms is a result of what I am doing with my center and with whether or not it is a same side lead...and then the tone of the dance...often good to practice the last thing alone in the mirror...the first two (also the third) a good pro should be able to give tips that allow you to do things with your arms that help your movement...bottom line is that it should be connected and rational
  18. Yes this one is more of a feeling that developed amongst the latin dancers....I think because of the sharpness of the NY, to just have the wrist line straight wouldn't feel complete.....Again i think its more feeling/styling.....

    sometimes i may do it, sometimes not.... depending on the music/song and feeling.


    JANATHOME Well-Known Member

    Funny, I have an instructor that lovingly calls us his monkeys... That is because initially how we learn is to exactly mimic what he does. That is what worked for me in arm movements. In theory I know that my arms actions should be a reaction of what my body is doing and should come from my center, yet I could neither feel that or produce it.

    I took lessons from our female coach and we would dance side by side in front of a mirror. Using a simple step such as a forward lock I would watch her arm actions in the mirror and copy it. Because she knew these principles and I did not it taught me what feel to look for , what the correct body/arm actioin was and eventually I was not copying her but felt it on my own. Once we got that far then I was able on my own to decide what arm actions I wanted to do that fit my own personality. I guess for some this comes naturally, not me.
  20. happyshoes

    happyshoes New Member

    My instructor recently explained the arm and hand movement going into and coming out of the new yorker. I noticed that whatever little I was able to reproduce, immediately helped my movement and I became more stable. Apart from looking nicer :p.

    At what point in one's training does one start working on one's hands/arms? As a beginner, I am not so concerned with looking good yet, but since the arms help one's balance and contribute to the mechanics of the whole movement, isn't it a good idea to work on them right from the start?

Share This Page