Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Let The Ladies Be Hipsters For Gents Chest Is Best

It seems that YouTubers are finding one of my videos rather helpful. The chest isolation exercise I’ve posted on my Dance Diversion YouTube Channel, I’m very pleased to see, has attracted thousands of views. The video is aimed at people who dance Salsa, Mambo, Merengue or Bachata and need the movements of the torso explained and broken down. Some people find the chest and hip movements very natural, but others don’t, and need to be taught them.

The movement of the chest is important for several reasons. It’s surprising therefore, that many teachers completely overlook it. When ladies learn a Latin dance style they know they have to learn the hip actions. They’re integral, and stand out obviously as a main characteristic. Once they have all this movement in their hips, ladies also then have to coordinate the movement of their chest. The hips move up and down and in figures of eight whereas the chest shifts horizontally. These body parts are attached to each other so their contrasting movements can be difficult to perform at the same time.

Men can almost get away with dancing some of these styles without much movement in their torso but their dancing will be missing certain elements. They’ll be missing an opportunity to add  styling, but more importantly their lead will be deficient. 

Most men will probably be aiming to dance with a masculine style. To achieve this the chest can be emphasised more than the pelvis. I teach men the hip movements and then coach them to dance very subtle versions of them. As men have broad shoulders and narrow hips, the side-to-side isolation of the chest can visually be more dominant. We then easily interpret this as a masculine way of moving. If a man over exaggerates his hip movements and other feminine stylistic details, he may look camp.

The movement in the chest is also vital for another reason. I realised this for the first time several years ago when a gentleman attempted to dance Merengue with me. He was stepping with his legs but holding his torso very still. I couldn’t tell the difference between him dancing and him standing still! He had failed to master a key element of the lead necessary for basic steps. The chest movement is vital to communicate your shift of weight, as the leader, to your follower and a good teacher will show you how this is done.

In many cultures this chest movement isn’t required for daily functional activities so it can feel rather unnatural and might take a lot of practice to master. Get started by doing a small shift of the chest, nice and slowly. Keep your shoulders horizontal and focus on moving the lower ribs. Only gradually increase the size and speed of the movement making sure you’re still doing it correctly and not allowing the shoulders to tip. Your shoulders should be relaxed while your abdominals and the muscles in your lower back control the movement. Drill the chest isolation into your body standing steady with your pelvis stable before you try to combine it with dance steps and hip movements. Then once you’ve managed all that, you just need to apply it when you’re dancing with a partner.

May I also suggest that you reward yourself for all your efforts with a nice minty mojito. The arm isolation you require for that is arriba, abajo, al centro, pa’ dentro.

Thank you very much for watching my videos and subscribing to my channel. I’ll be posting more videos up soon.

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