Weight Shifting Drills?

#1
Hey!

I was wondering if anyone had any drills or advice on how to get quicker at shifting my weight from foot to foot.

I started dancing a little over two months ago and in my last lesson, my coach gave me the note was that I needed to be quicker at shifting my weight from foot to foot (I have a tendency to place my foot without fully committing all my weight to it especially when a dance gets fast). I've tackled this by incorporating some really slow songs into my daily practice at home—where I force myself to really focus on moving from foot to foot—but I can't help but feel that there are some specific drills or movements for this point in particular out there that I'm missing in all my google searches.
 

snapdancer

Well-Known Member
#2
Instead of moving by (1) placing your foot and then (2) pushing your body weight to it, try reversing this by:
(A) using your standing leg to push your body weight to where it should be and then (B) placing the next foot to acquire the weight. "Standing leg" is the leg that is holding your leg up at that moment. You standing leg is more effective at moving your body weight than the acquiring leg.

I recommend the use of a mirror so you can see what you're really doing rather than what it feels like at the moment.
 

snapdancer

Well-Known Member
#3
Another thing to look at is whether you have any flex in your knees. When trying something new, we're under some stress and there may be a tendency to lock your knees under stress. You need to have some flex in your knees so that you have a range of motion through which to power your movement.

Also proper use of the foot. It's difficult to power movement if your weight is distributed only on the ball of the foot -- the heel has to be used for at least part of the action.

It's rather difficult to diagnose problems over the Internet, difficult enough in person. In my opinion, getting advice such as you mention would be acceptable in a group class. But you called him a "coach" which implies private lesson. In my opinion, a "coach" should be giving you more than that. He should be giving you an analysis as to why you're not quick enough, and since he's right there he should be able to tell you exactly what technique you lack as opposed to the suggestions I've given you which might or might not be true because I haven't watched you.
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#4
Here's an excerpt from Lauré Haile, who is now mostly known for her association West Coast Swing, but was a ballroom champion in the 30s, and 40s, and a dance director for Arthur Murray.

TEACHING A CLASS
IN WEIGHT CHANGE

Next, to take the left walking step,
think of this: "Get off the right foot."
Immediately as the left foot touches the
floor, the entire body weight should be
over that foot. If the weight is completely
over the left foot, the right foot will be off
the floor just as completely. This, then,
should be the exact position of body and
feet at the count of 1: Body and hips over
the left foot, and the right foot in the
position where it was released from the
floor.
Now, for count 2: The right foot
should move smoothly and with control
to the follow-through position alongside
the left foot, at which point the right foot
should basically be pulled into the body,
right knee straight, not crumpled or
collapsed. And the right foot should not
touch the floor. This completes the left
forward step from the very beginning to
the finish. The right foot is free and is in
perfect position to begin a right forward
step.
 

vit

Active Member
#6
Hey!
I started dancing a little over two months ago and in my last lesson, my coach gave me the note was that I needed to be quicker at shifting my weight from foot to foot.
Don't worry, it's a common problem with 99% people in my social dancing venue no matter the genre (ballroom, salsa, kizomba, wcs, tango ...) yet nobody seems to be noticing it ... so you might be among lucky ones that actually have a good dance teacher

In my BR days long ago, we did lots of drills for warmup that nobody actually explained why and we hated them ... actually many of them I didn't find in BR teaching videos so I don't know how much they are used in other areas, some of them might be brought / adjusted from other genres, ballet in particular

It's mostly due to your balance/core problems in dancing ... for instance when you run, weight change is instant, you actually spend a fraction of the second in the air ... but you were running since the childhood and your body is used to do that and you are not afraid of falling. In dancing, movement is different than in ordinary life and the body is not used to it, so it's afraid of falling, so transition from one foot to another is taking more time, until your body is sure that your balance is established on other foot and that you won't fall ... faster the dance, bigger the problem

Drills are quite simple, just boring (like most drills). First practice standing alternatively on just one leg. You can do it while waiting for the bus and in similar occasions. Change from one foot to other, paying attention that your body resist deforming under changed force that throws you out of balance. Then try to minimize time for weight change not ruining the balance. Then incorporate some rise and fall (used in BR standard) into this exercise (lower, change to other foot, back to normal / rise, change to other foot, back to normal). Then instead of changing weight with feet together, make wider step. To the side, forward, backward ... then make a closed box out of it. Make even larger steps, incorporate sway (which is metronomic like action of the body while doing larger steps to avoiding falling-over) ... paying attention to balance whole of the time. Practice slower and faster. If it's standard, you need to maintain straight spine and don't settle on the hip. If it's latin, you incorporate hip action in the exercise. Eventually you body will get used to it, your inner core muscles will become more active and your balance will improve and weight shift time will decrease. And ask for some further tips from the teacher

Be aware that improvement is really slow, at first you won't notice it and you will hate the drills just like me ...

Other things for improving the core are also useful (pilates, yoga etc)

There are further things to improve about usage of the feet, ankles etc, depending on the genre ... it's what most dance teachers are only aware about ... but in my experience, they are much easier to solve than above because there are much more muscles in the core involved than in the legs

Without that, you can't swing properly in BR, you can't make spins, you can't have nice body movement in latin, and for the follower, it's hard to lead, because you never know where is her balance and is on both feet too long so hard to change her direction and lead anything ...

Just my opinion, take it or leave it ...
 
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vit

Active Member
#10
OP asked (emphasis mine):
"I was wondering if anyone had any drills or advice on how to get quicker at shifting my weight from foot to foot."
Yes, I missed that part of the sequence, because second part of the OP post was concentrated on drills

Since there are not comments on them, it looks others are not familiar with drills that I mentioned ? I don't believe that teachers in my area invented them, it's just that I don't remember seeing them in teaching videos that I have (mostly english - G Hearn etc)
 

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