Drills to develop body flight?
April 26, 2009 6:47 PM   Subscribe

How do dancers achieve body flight? I'm amazed at how many pros in dances like Carolina shag and west coast swing look like air hockey pucks gliding across the floor, and I'd like to learn this skill. I have worked with local pros in private lessons, but nothing has clicked yet, and so I'm asking the hive mind for drills and breakdowns to develop this degree of body flight. Theoretical explanations of how body flight and glide are created are welcome, but my primary interest is practical: I want to learn how to do this!
posted by philosophygeek to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Use good dance shoes on a good dance floor. A very good WCS instructor to take workshops or privates from is Mario Robau. If anyone will teach you to slide well, it is him.
posted by JJ86 at 7:20 PM on April 26, 2009

Wait, what? Can you link to a video? I have no idea what you're talking about but it sounds awesome.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 10:34 PM on April 26, 2009

Theres plenty of videos on youtube ;) Some are better than others but what I can gather from the videos its about the appearance of frictionless movement, they look like they're dancing on ice (but with all the slipping, flailing and falling on your ass)

Can you moonwalk? A really good moon walk displays the same kind of technique - moving your feet while giving the appearance of a smooth gliding movement rather than steps. this video has a good explanation of the technique. If you can master that you just need to translate the same idea into real dancing.
posted by missmagenta at 12:43 AM on April 27, 2009

I don't know anything about dance, and so I'm guessing about what you mean by body flight. But I heard a talk by Ken Laws about the physics of dance, and he described how a ballet dancer creates the illusion of floating during a jump. The key is that the center of mass of your body is going to travel in a parabola no matter what you do. But your audience is focusing on your upper body, not your center of mass, and you can 'flatten' the path of your upper body compared to the parabola of the center of mass by stretching your legs horizontally on the way up before the top of the jump. By leaving the ground with the body relatively stretched out vertically, stretching your legs horizontally in the middle of the jump, and then landing again relatively vertically, your torso and head seem to move parallel to the floor as if you are floating. Pictures here toward the bottom of this page, based on Laws' book about the physics of dance.
posted by Killick at 6:40 AM on April 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

2nding Killick--jumps and other moves create the illusion of smooth "flight" and it's mostly lots and lots of practice that allows the dancer to do that. Are you working with your dance teachers in private lessons over the long haul? Can you describe to them or show them a video of some of the moves that you'd like to replicate, and ask them to teach you how to do it?
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 6:59 AM on April 27, 2009

you could cheat with some carpet sliders.
posted by nomisxid at 9:22 AM on April 27, 2009

@pseudostrabismus: Some examples on youtube are Doug Silton and Ginger Pickerel and Mike Norris and LeAnn Best in Carolina shag.
posted by philosophygeek at 2:06 PM on April 27, 2009

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