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Essential to comfortable and effective dancing is good posture, acheived through the proper alignment of the various body parts in correct relative position with one another. The various body parts, sometimes known as blocks of weight, include the head, chest/torso, pelvis/hips, legs, and feet. In order to be properly aligned, these blocks of weight should be placed directly on top of one another in a natural and upright manner.

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The head should be held upright with the chin parallel to the floor. The neck should stretch upward, but be careful not to lengthen any one side of the neck at the expense of the opposite side... all sides of the neck should stretch upward. Pay particluar attention to the back of the neck, which is often shortened when the chin is held too high. Be careful not to thrust the head forward from the neck, as the vertebrate in the neck should continue upward as an extention of the spine.


The chest and hips must always be in good, vertical alignment. The ribcage should feel as though it is being lifted off of the hips, in such a way as to lengthen the spine. Any lifting of the chest, however, should always be accomplished in such a way as to allow for normal, comfortable breathing. Never allow the chest to pitch forward or slouch back in relationship to the hips.


The position of the hips must allow for a natural curve of the spine. The pelvis should therefore be held in a midway position, neither tucking excessively under, nor sticking out backward.


When the legs are straight, the knees will be positioned directly between the hips and the feet. When the knees bend forward, the alignment of the hips and feet should remain constant, so that the body can remain upright. Always try to feel that you lengthen your torso as you bend your knees, so that your posture does not "deflate". Never allow your pelvis to stick out backward, even slightly, as the knees bend.


It is very important for a good dancer to become aware of the placement of the body weight over the feet. In a normal, standing position, the body weight should remain slightly forward of the middle of the feet, between the heel and the ball of the foot. In motion, this position is variable, based on the mechanics of the specific movement. It will range from the back of the heel to the front of the big toe, but this distribution of weight should not affect the alignment of the upper blocks of weight, from hips to head.


Lie down flat on your back, with your knees bent to approximately a 90 angle, and feet flat on the floor. Let your arms fall easily to your sides, or rest them on your stomach. Breathe normally, allowing all of the muscles is your body to relax. Feel your back flat against the floor, and try to minimize any spaces, particularly in the area of the small of the back. There will inevitably be a space at the neck, but this space will be reduced slightly when the neck is stretched longer. (This exercise can also be done against a wall, in a standing position. The feet should be held 6-12 inches away from the wall).

Incorrect: (tense muscles, arched back, kinked neck)
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Correct: (relaxed, straight back, neck stretched long)
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Copyright 1997 Jonathan W. Atkinson and Ballroom
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