Developing Dance Frame
Establishing a quiet, stable dance frame, is a goal that all dancers should aspire to, enabling them to achieve that essential connection with their dance partner, allowing them the luxury to not only listen to, but enjoy, the music that they are dancing to.
Spaghetti Arms, or lack of Dance Frame, is a common problem for new dancers. It is one of the most important building blocks in becoming an accomplished dancer. It is also one of the most difficult skills for a new dancer to master. It is equally important for the leader and follower to both have, and maintain, a good, constant and continuous dance frame. Dance frame is achieved by locking down your lats, not by engaging your arms. I often hear a leader complain that a follower doesn't have frame, and therefore he is unable to "lead" her. This of course, is an accurate statement. It is possible, however, that these "leaders" have yet to develop their own solid dance frame, themselves.
Sometimes when leaders refer to their "frame", they are actually mistaking "frame" for a lead, such as in, turn NOW! With no prior connection, or constant and continuous framework already established during the dance, the follower is just receiving "frame" when the leader is trying to initiate a pattern, a turn, or a change of direction. That likely leads to confusion for the follower and a missed lead. Leaders, remember that frame must be "quiet" and "continuous" throughout the entire dance, from beginning to end, in order for the follower to react when you initiate your intention.
On the other hand ladies, it is our responsibility to offer our leader a stable dance frame. One that is a constant, toned resistant, and equal to that of our partner.We need to be responsive and ready to react to his lead. Dancing is an activity that takes lots of practice and dedication.
In the beginning it is typical for both leaders and followers, to have Spaghetti Arms. Limp and loose. We then tend to go to the opposite extreme, a stiff and rigid frame. Finding that happy medium is the challenge.Your arms should move your entire body, you should move as a whole unit, not arms, and then body. Ladies, as a brand new dancer, there is much to remember, so just try and take a deep breath and realize that you are dependent on "feeling" where and what, a leader is asking your body to do. Leaders, remember that you are the driver, you need to maintain that solid firm, I'm in control authority. Be deliberate with your movement and lead.
I suggest that you find someone that you are familiar and friendly with. Someone that is able to laugh and experiment. Start by both of you having very weak limp spaghetti arms. You will feel the lack of connection immediately. You will realize that neither one of you will be able to communicate through your frame. Two people without frame will find it very difficult to move around the dance floor and execute any style of dance.
Next, one of you should be the noodle, the other, a stiff, strong, rigid frame. As you will notice, this does not work well either. The strong person will likely be shoving the other person off balance and the person with no frame will stumble around not knowing where he/she should be, or how to get there. Take turns being both extreme. You will begin to adjust and find a happy medium. One that works for both of you. You will understand and feel what it is like to dance with Mr. or Mrs. Vermicelli and you will NOT want to be that person! It is an absolute chore to dance with someone with no frame. Your arms become weak and tired, just from trying to hold up the others arms, during a dance. It is not fun and is well worth the practice to find and maintain your frame. Once you find your frame, you will be able to adjust to most any dancer.
You can practice this equal and opposite resistance with anyone, they do not have to be a dancer. I found that I was able to even get my 15 year old son, who would rather cut off his feet than dance, to match my resistance and create a stable frame. I was able to move his body through his frame and he was able to move mine. For him it came naturally, for me, it did not!
So, a few tips. Stand opposite of each other. Hold each others hands and create an oval. Take turns "moving" each other. Observe what you are doing and how the other persons' body reacts. Do not allow your elbows to collapse and keep them in front of you. Learn to allow your frame to move your body.
I believe that we all vacillate from one extreme to the other, before finally feeling or understanding what Dance Frame truly is. Giving up is not an option, and all of your hard work will be rewarded this first time that you spin flawlessly across the dance floor.
Good Luck and keep fine tuning your Dance Frame, the more adept you become, the more fun dancing will be!