Latin Styling


Time, Space, Weight, Connections

Dynamics is changes in energy - it's how to do what you do.

How to use time: Sudden vs. Sustained.

How to use space:
  • Direct: directly go to the position, shortest way to position.
  • Flexible: elbow, wrist, hand - longest way to get to position.
Combining these: sudden and direct, sudden and flexible, etc.

Weight: heavy vs. light. Latin action is heavy.

Connections of the body:
  • Cannon is Action/Reaction. Normally, we don't use this in Latin.
  • Connected Action: when one side moves, the other side moves with it. - it's connected. Examples of connected actions:
    • Side step: Rumba, settling on "2&" is connected action, "3&" is connected. it is creates time. As hip twist, the opposite leg steps to side.
    • Forward step: Hip swings with body pendulum forward, moving spine at the same time. Hips and body become straight one line with leg at the same time with tail bone down
How to flow through the space
  • bounds of energy
    • arms close around body. energy contained within the body. 
    • Even when releasing in space (e.g. stepping to side), the energy is still in the body.
  • free is the opposite

Use of Space (Body, Arms, Wrists, and Hands)

Body Design

Be very aware of the shape the body makes. Think of dancing all of body, not just one piece. 

  • Arms should be used in unaffected way, but never static.
  • Arms and hands are extensions of the rib cage. The order of extending outward is: rib cage, shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand (one following the other in that order).
  • When extending arms out to the side: shoulders down, as arm start coming up, at the same time, arm start "rotating" and the rotation continues into elbow and hands. The palm of hands is almost facing up.
  • Even with in static shape, you could create flexibility, rotation to make the shape dynamic. e.g. start with arms to the side, hands at hips, when moving forward, feel the wind blow at you, the arms will go to the back. (Switch Turns)
  • When an arm action is started, finish the action, don't cut it short (e.g. Alemana first step on count 2 when Lady's pull L arm to wrap her own body.)
  • Be very aware of where arm is, don't do a lot extra stuff which will be distracting.
  • Hands is a very expressive part of the body to create shape and statement.
  • Ballet, classical dancers: hands vanishes with the line of the body (no tension in the hands)
  • Latin dances - exotic look - always create angles in the body
    • thumb touches the bottom flesh part of the middle finger. (Think of palming a quarter like magician hiding the quarter.)
    • pinky flared out.
    • angles in hand: more flares in hand (all fingers)
    • angles in wrist (some calls it "broken wrist", think about showing off your ring).
  • Make fluid movement: ebbing, flowing through different shapes of the hand.
  • Man's hands: follow the line of the wrist. Strong connected line. Rotate through elbow, wrist (keeping shoulders down). Rotate as arms are coming up (as in Switch Turns.)
  • Lady's hands: can articulate a lot more.
  • Body should be always progressive, even when static shape is used: use rotation, flexibility, stretching within the shape.
  • Looking out to the horizon.

Spacial Progression

  • What separates dancing from, say, still photos, is that in dancing, body progresses from one body design to another design.
  • Arm movement should be very connected with the rest of the body.
  • The way to move through space:
    • Horizontal space: the plane of the table.
    • Vertical space: the plane of the wheel.
  • Be very aware of the shape each step finishes in. Finish the action and remove all other movement that is not part of the body design.

Spacial Tension

Spacial Projection

Styling Exercises

It's important to finish the arm (creating a design), making a conscious choice, use bigger space.

Arm Exercises

  • Stationary with feet apart (or do this in combination with walking forward)
    • Arms  to the side (could be flexible or direct action) (wheeling through shoulder)
    • bend elbow, (arm in front of chest) (table through elbow)
    • elbow down. (wheeling through shoulder)
    • forearms down (wheeling through elbow)
  • Alternate arm movement: (basic Rumba arms)
    • Start: left hand on L hip, R elbow bent, upper arm to side, parallel to floor, so R hand is in front of chest.
    • 1: Right elbow down, left hand to side (L arm straight out to side)
    • 2: right hand down along side of body, left elbow bent (table through elbow)
    • 3: right arm out, left elbow down (wheel through shoulder)
    • 4: right elbow bent (plane), left hand down side of body
    • repeat from #1.

Rumba and Cha Cha Basic with Hold

Start: weight on Man's RF, Lady's LF. Arm to the side. In one hand hold open position.
[Note: this is for Lady's part.]

Variation #1:
  • "2": Lady RF back, Left elbow bent (plane through elbow)
  • "3": Replace weight on Lady's LF, Left elbow down (wheel through shoulder)
  • "4": Lady RF to side, left hand track through side of body
  • "1": Left hand wheel out to finish to the side on "1".
Variation #2:
  • "2": L arm goes forward, palm down. (plane through shoulder)
  • "3": flip hand, palm up, bend elbow, arm draws in to center.
  • "4 1": Left hand track down through side of body, then out to side: arm, elbow, forearm, hand.
    • OR, depending on the figure, it could be straight up on the side of the ear.

Rumba and Cha Cha Underarm Turn

  • "2": Lady left hand go to hip (wheeling down through elbow).
  • "3": keep hand on hip when turning
  • "4 1": finishing with arm out to side.