What’s Important in Ballroom Dancing

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By Anthony Hurley

In anticipation of my article requested by the WDC Education Department I have read the many interesting comments posted on the site with interest, amazement and sometimes shock.

Many subjects have been approached, namely technique, Touch teaching, opinions on teaching methods and other associated statements, such as “elements of dance and competition are bad for motivation.”

I cannot agree with the last statement for in my own case it was the excitement of competition that made my wife and I work to perfect the fundamentals and therefore pursue our goals to reach the top.

After digesting the many theories that have been raised I have come to the decision that competitive dancing for some is becoming too scientific. The old and tried methods that produced many of the all time greats of the past is being pushed aside even forgotten.

Perhaps the reader may think I am old fashioned, I am not and I have enjoyed seeing dancing develop to the heights we enjoy watching today, but I am a traditionalist when it comes to techniques, artistic performance and the beauty of musical movement.

I have seen every champion since 1949 up to the present day and have marvelled at their prowess, in my opinion the best era was the 1980’s through the 90’s the names that come to mind as the best examples Barr, Hillier,Wood, Wesseltherhorn, Sinkinson, Hilton and Baricchi.

It is interesting to note they all came through the juvenile/junior ranks where basic fundamentals were of paramount importance, not that previous champions did not go through this important phase.

What made these unbeatable qualities was an untiring devotion to the techniques which enabled them to create fabulous feet, leg and body lines, effortless movement that was an integral part of the music, they moved like the wind an invisible energy, all this plus an individual electric personality that gripped audiences and gave the adjudicators many headaches in deciding who was to be the best on the day.

They also put great faith in their chosen coaches and worked as a team combining the endless information that was available from truly professional people who had studied their profession in depth and held it in great esteem, in other words they felt it was an obligation to the further development of competitive dancing.

So what is the first priority?

It is difficult to nominate one particular item being more important than the other, so lets be sensible and commence with:

Correct posture and deportment

That means keeping the body in a natural position. The strength should be felt within, muscular toning is required definitely not expansion especially the rib cage. Arms supported naturally with the elbows slightly lower and in front of the shoulder joint. Lady’s poise should develop from the ball of the foot with a graceful spiral curve into the mans right arm. Remember, for both man and lady shoulders over hips over feet. Do not distort the natural curves to create a “big top.”

Anthony Hurley

1 comment
  1. It seems that the ART of 2 People moving as one to the MUSIC ( male &female preferably in my opinion ) seems to becoming a lost art . The flavour of today seems to be to cover as much distance as possible, create the largest top line as possible often at expense of the lady being back weighted ,(body weight behind the heels ) thus creating imbalance , then the man using the arms and upper body to force the lady . The worst of it is that the picture, seems to be of utmost importance to some ( the big top line) at the expense of technique . Taking lessons with Denis & Dorren Murphy, the brother of Edna Murphy , in Canada and after listing to Anthony Hurley and others of that era , and some later and earlier , it confirms my believe that the ART might be lost if the basics are not adhered to. Yours SincerelyTony

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