Ballroom Dance > Out of my MIND over Poor Head Positioning

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by TurnsAre4Girls, Mar 23, 2013.

  1. Hi All,

    I've recently gotten very lucky and partnered up with a pre-champ lady that is a wonderful dancer with awesome technique. She's 5'9" so I think my height was pretty much the only thing I had that could add to our partnership. I'm in Silver but I'm very committed and we practice around 18-20 hours/week.We were making excellent progress until this was pointed out to me ......

    My Head OMG!

    The issue is on forward movements I allow myself to go into her space. Grrrrr! And on backward movements I leave my head behind. I know, Poor lady right! So basically I have no control of my head and worse then that I don't even really feel it? I think this must be a common thing with men? But my instructor (love her as I do) her explanations of how to fix this I'm not getting.

    So I thought I'd put it out there into the forums community and see what feed back I can get from my fellow dance obsessed friends.

    chomsky likes this.
  2. londongal

    londongal New Member

    I'm a follower, but my partner has head issues as well so I'll bite. For what it's worth...
    Perhaps you can try putting some duct tape on the back of your shirt collar and the nape of your neck. You will feel the pull when your head moves around. (sounds like a joke, but we've actually tried it!o_O )

    To help remind DP to keep his head perfectly on top of his body, our teachers also tell him to always check that his nose is exactly over his tie knot.
  3. dbk

    dbk Well-Known Member

    This is not really a "head" issue, I don't think. It's your body weight and your posture - which, yes, probably results in your head being in her space. But your head is not the source of the problem, and I bet it's not the only symptom either. I suggest working on 1) footwork, to support the correct transfer of weight between the feet; 2) body weight transfer, i.e. not plopping down on backwards steps or leaning forward on forwards steps; and 3) posture, so you are upright and you are not allowing your torso (or whatever other part of your body isn't obeying) to bend and mess up your head position.

    In other words, break down the problem into its causes, rather than trying to "fix" your head problem through force of will.

    Unfortunately, part of being a higher level dancer is the SUCKY realization that you need to work on a million things at once, and one individual thing won't work 100% unless you're doing the other things too. When I find a solution myself, I'll get back to you :p

    And yeah, VERY common problem, especially for leaders. If I might ask, what is it that you're being told by your partner and coach, that you're not "getting"? That might help us understand what's going on.
    tequila, chomsky, vit and 3 others like this.
  4. Mr 4 styles

    Mr 4 styles Well-Known Member

    agree with all above

    also make sure you do some conditioning to strenghten the muscles of your upper and mid back

    this will allow you to retract and depress your scapulae better to open your chest a bit and your head will move back as a natural counterweight

    this is was fixed the problem for me ( oh and engage your core)

    but i have big head:cool: so that may have been part of the problem:D
    tequila and chomsky like this.
  5. Smooth Dancer

    Smooth Dancer Active Member

    My recently acquired understanding of the proper positioning of the scapulae was a sea-change in my posture and frame technique. I believe it is the very basis for the gentleman's frame, and really does tend to move the head backward to its proper position. It also aids a lot of the other elements of posture.

    For me, scapulae positioning is one of the most un-natural things I've ever done. Where else except in dance do you ever need to place the bottom of these bones into a particular position? Side comment: I found that sitting in some chairs (car seats) gives you better tactile feedback for this positioning.
  6. ajiboyet

    ajiboyet Well-Known Member

    Is that even possible?
  7. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    personally, I think one of the most beneficial concepts in contemplating the position of the head is to think of it as the tip of the whip, not as an isolated body part that you have to monitor....I see this in my pro as it is obvious that he uses his head weight to his benefit, but only as it would logically move, connected to his spine in order to increase wind up or motivation, etc
  8. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    I have also heard to keep one's head over one's own left nipple...but I still like the more holistic approach
  9. flightco

    flightco Well-Known Member

    You said, "My recently acquired understanding of the proper positioning of the scapulae was a sea-change in my posture and frame technique." Being a new dancer I have no idea what you are talking about (also, being new to the forum, this might not be the place to ask the question, so I apologize if so). Would you mind elaborating? My posture is terrible in life and dance (but only gets pointed out to me constantly in dance).
  10. londongal

    londongal New Member

    Hmm, if one draws a vertical line down the middle of the body, a line that extends all the way to the top of the head, that line will pass both the tie knot and the nose, more or less. My partner often turns his head inside the frame - for example turning it before, or after, the body turns during natural pivots. That breaks the vertical line. So that visualisation is an aid to remember to move the head in line with the way the rest of the torso is moving - to connect them so it's one smooth movement. Does that make sense? I'm afraid I'm not explaining well at all.

    In any case, I'm certainly not saying one should lock one's head into a rigid place, it needs to express and do many other things. The nose-over-tie thing was just one visualization to correct too much head movement.
    chomsky likes this.
  11. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    hhmmm...well...actually, as the tip of the line/whip, it won't move at the same time...more likely it is moving first when it should move last...or visa vera...imo
  12. cornutt

    cornutt Well-Known Member

    It was pointed out to me in a coaching yesterday that us leads begin our dances in a awkward position: we need to have our head weight over the left foot -- but we begin with the left foot free. According to this particular coach, if you can put your head in the correct place before you start, and keep it there through the first bar or two, you've won at least one important battle. And as others on this thread have pointed out, it's not just a matter of the head and neck; the whole upper half of the body is involved. Apparently I've been subtly pitching forward as soon as I take my first step in smooth, and it just gets worse from there.
  13. Thank you all so much for the great replies!

    Cornutt - SO funny you mentioned that about our position as we start. That is my biggest problem area and it generally screws up all my sway going into the first 2 moves.

    dbk - I think you have me nailed! Were you hiding in the corner during my lesson? The three points you brought up I know I have issues with as well. Posture being the biggest of the all. I am allowing my chest to drop the second I stop thinking about it and I believe that is the main reason why I'm losing my head. My partner, bless her, is an angel and just tells me I'm better then last week and lets me get away with it for now.

    Fascination- Thanks for your always insightful input.

    I work on a laptop all day long at work and I think that is one of the factors to my poor posture? I'm going to try raising it up and changing my chair so I can practice keeping my core active and good posture while at work. Hopefully this will carry itself over to the dance floor.

    I just reread the entire thread again and you know what? I totally have a game plan today to start my improvements in this area. I do have a ton of issues to "tweak" and improve on but I think I can take a positive step forward today at practice. I'll let you all know.

    chomsky likes this.
  14. ajiboyet

    ajiboyet Well-Known Member

    But if the nose is over the tie knot, that means the head is looking straight ahead. Now I know a lot more about Latin than Standard, but that kinda rubs me the wrong way. Should the head be looking straight ahead?
  15. bia

    bia Well-Known Member

    Probably not exactly, or not always, or something -- I'm sure it's more complicated than that. I like fasc's image of the head as the end of the whip, so it's moving coherently with the spine and the rest of the body, but not simultaneously. But I can see thinking of it as straight ahead being a helpful first step for someone who is commonly over-turning the head. The pointer our teacher has been giving both of us is to keep the face inside the hands at all times. Again, an idea that won't get us the whole way, but will at least get rid of some of the extremes of weird head positions. My DH is just recently starting to feel the difference between "head left" and "face left," and that's helping us a lot.
  16. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    when, as the lady, I was turning my head too far to my left, and therefore locking right elbow and letting left elbow go behind my body...a tip that Max gave me (yes, you should always bid on a critique by him when he offers in the DF auction) was to focus my gaze over my own left wrist (whereas I was more toward my own left elbow)...while I again discourage a fixed notion, this was a phenomenal first step in improving my frame
  17. dbk

    dbk Well-Known Member

    Start with the footwork / body weight transfer first. If that's done incorrectly, your body will try to compensate to maintain balance, and it will be almost impossible to hold your posture correctly.

    IME, when solving problems in your dancing, it's best to start from the feet up.
    chomsky likes this.
  18. clumsy fellow

    clumsy fellow Active Member

    Nose over Knot refers to not leading with the head, I think...
  19. jerseydancer

    jerseydancer Active Member

    Only part of your head issue is bad posture, another big part is how you initiate you movement back and forward, looks like you start with your head. You head should be aligned with your body all the time, but no locked (or you will look stiff), and the head should move with your core. When you move forward you center moves first, when you move backward you legs should go out of you partner way first, the head should not disconnect from you core and move faster forward or backward. Hope this helps
    chomsky and Mr 4 styles like this.
  20. Smooth Dancer

    Smooth Dancer Active Member

    Since I'm not even close to being an expert, my recommendation is to use the real secret to the forum's wealth of information: search. There you'll find some bonafide experts!

    My comments were triggered by something Mr 4 Styles said. What I'm beginning to understand is that the spine, from the pelvis to base of the skull, and everything attached to it (ribs, shoulders, etc.) is one integrated system and trying to work one part without another can be self-defeating. (Ah 1, ah 2, ah 3..."the hip bone's connected to the...").

    When I speak of scapula, it's just a way of thinking about what I've been told about closed posture for the gentleman. Think of lowering the shoulders (keeping them back) then expanding the lower back ribs as if you were hugging a very wide tree. When you do, your shoulder blades will disappear like the retracting headlights of an auto. Another way of looking at this is that the lower end of the shoulder blades go down and spread sideways.

    Anyway, before I got into this, I was trying to keep my head back. Like most, left on its own my head juts forward like a Tom peeping into a window -- not good dance form. One should pull the head back, which I could do in isolation, but it require a brute muscle, felt really uncomfortable, and would spring back as soon as my attention shifted elsewhere.

    But a funny thing happened the more I got into the scapula thing: the head seemed to not only pull back almost automatically, but felt quite comfortable there!

    To summarize, I'm beginning to appreciate that the spinal system is an incredibly interconnected system, with parts that affect other parts quite distant. Trying to fix one part in isolation may be quite futile without fixing others. That's my $.02.
    tequila, vit, chomsky and 3 others like this.

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