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How Can I be 'Lighter' for my Partner?

Q. My partner complains that I'm heavy. What can I do to be 'lighter' for him?

A. (Heartfelt from a couple of guys who have hauled many a heavy lady around the dance floor) - Thank you for your question!

Every lady wants to look great on the dance floor - that's a given. And you might very well be asked to dance for the first time based on how you look. Trust us though - the second invitation has a lot to do with how you feel. You see, every man loves to dance with a woman who is easy to dance with and feels good in his arms! And we want you to be one of them!

One thing you should understand right away is that dance heaviness has nothing to do with size. Very heavy people can be very nice dance with, and very light people can feel like a piano. The key ingredient to lightness in dancing is actually attitude: if you think it's the man's job to haul you through your dance steps, you are probably going to be a nightmare; if you're a true partner, happy to do your part, you will dance like a dream!

Ultimately, being easy to dance with comes down to taking responsibility for holding your own body, while allowing the man to lead.

There are four important factors that will make you feel light to your partner: holding and moving your own weight, being on balance, following and relaxing.

1. The first thing you need to do is make sure you hold your own weight in dance position. Although you should touch the man's left hand and right arm over as much area as possible, you still need to support 100% of your own weight. Try to stand up as tall as possible and project your energy up and towards him in every way. (This is especially important when you're first learning to dance and are tempted to look down). You should almost feel like you are lifting him from above by creating a vacuum. If your partner suddenly dropped his arms from underneath you, you should feel that your own arms would not fall even an inch.

2. Once you have established a nice connection with no weight, the next trick is to maintain that feeling as you do your dance steps around the ballroom. Balance is obviously a major key to making this happen. If you are relying on your partner to support you every time you take a step, you are basically asking your partner to lift weights throughout the dance. To improve your balance stand up straighter, hold your head up high, and wear shorter heels (especially when you are learning your first steps).

3. Moving together at the same time is the third key to lightness. For a lady this basically comes down to following. If you are trying to zig when your partner is trying to zag, it is going to take energy to work out the difference. This is a lot like driving with the emergency brake on: you can still get around, but it takes a lot of effort. Every friction between you requires either a compromise or an effort. Compromise is part of dancing and you will both have to make many as you learn to dance. But it is always the man's job to steer, and everything you can to do make this easier is like releasing the emergency brake a little further.

4. Finally, it is really important that you relax your hands and arms while you're dancing. When you are tense and stiff you not only tire yourself out, but also pass that tension onto your partner. Depending on how you are holding him, the man will usually feel tension as direct pressure which will add significantly to the load he's bearing. Try to hold your arms up from your back. This makes your arm muscles free to relax, which will keep them nice and light.

One final thing you can do to improve your balance, posture, strength and endurance is to practice dancing by yourself. If you can make it through a full dance by yourself - on balance and with your arms in dance position - you will know that you have the tools to be a wonderful partner. Also, by practising your dance steps on your own, and working on your balance and posture independantly, you will not only improve the feel of your dancing, but also give yourself confidence that you can dance easily with any man.

Happy Dancing,


Dancing For Dessert offers online dance instructions for all ballroom dance styles. Learn dance steps for salsa, swing, foxtrot, waltz, tango, rumba, cha cha, and wedding dances. Our online dance lessons will have you dancing with confidence and ease.

How Can I be 'Lighter' for my Partner?
posted by Dancing For Dessert on 2/20/2006 04:13:00 PM

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