FAQ: What is Floorcraft in Ballroom Dancing?
Answer: The skill in ballroom dancing of navigating around the dance floor in the most effective way possible. Being able to use room alignments and corresponding patterns in an efficient manner to travel the dance floor, regardless of traffic.
Floorcraft Comparison: Driving
Imagine a world where there were no traffic lights, no rules of the road, and everyone worried about their method of transportation.
That would be a nightmare for both motorists, and ballroom dancers.
The distinction doesn't stop there. The importance of specific rules in driving keep those on the road as safe, and efficient, as possible. The same can be said for dancers. By using certain rules of the "dance road", like following the Line of dance (a counter clockwise motion around the dance floor), dancers can navigate safely and efficiently too.
Floorcraft Comparison: Billiards
While many new dancers will navigate through straight line movement until they reach a wall or corner, more advanced dancers will learn to use angles, in the same way that skilled billiards players will utilize angled shots to achieve a desired position on the table.
Where this straight line to strategic traveling makes the most noticeable change is from the Bronze 1 to Bronze 2 level in a student's dance program.
Dances Where This Skill is Essential
Waltz - The ballroom dance that started it all, the Waltz is a dance that naturally enhances your posture, balance, and graceful movement all around, but without the skill of navigation, those elegant Waltz dancers would have some not-so-elegant collisions.
Great Waltz Patterns for Developing Navigation: Cross Lead Box, Change Step, Two Way Turn
Foxtrot - New dancers travel the floor in a very linear fashion, and that's not exception for the Foxtrot. As dancers develop their maneuverability, balance, and confidence - they can begin to unlock patters that zig-zag, or stop and back out of a would-be collision thus demonstrating a more fine tuned skill.
Great Foxtrot Patterns for Developing Navigation: Magic Left Turn, Promenade Check, Junior Walk
Tango - A Tango basic can curve just enough to the left, when necessary, that a dancer may never require another pattern to get around the floor. Nevertheless, the attacking movement, combined with other dancers on the floor, mean that the Tango dancer must be adept at changing direction, but in the most stylish way possible.
Great Tango Patterns for Developing Navigation: Back Tango Close, Medio Corte, Promenade Left Turn/Right Turn
Viennese Waltz & Quickstep - Both of these dances require an incredible amount of skill in regards to traveling the dance floor. While these aren't typical social dances, understanding how to travel, redirect, and utilize every inch of the dance floor is vital to the success of these two dances.
Important Point: These dances are designed to pressure test your timing, dance frame, and floorcraft. It is important that you are learning the skill of navigation and alignments through a slower dance before attempting one of these on a crowded dance floor.
Want to learn more about this skill? Just ask a comedian.
There is plenty of rehearsal. The jokes, like dance steps, are planned out. There are some that blend well and help the comedian maneuver through their material like a hot knife through butter.
But what really makes a comedian is the ability to read the audience. To understand the cadence of the jokes, to edit material on the fly, to push a little further, and to pull back to adapt to audience the comedian has received that night.
As a dancer, you can't predict your audience. Just like a driver can't predict where other drivers will be, and the split second response time necessary to react.
But great social dancers are both "preparers" and readers, like a comedian.
Understanding Floorcraft means that you can maneuver through the dance floor, like a hot knife through butter, but also read the audience to respond, edit, and adjust so that way, just like a great night as a comic, you can leave with a happy audience, and with a smile on your face.
No one in the 105 year history of Arthur Murray has ever said, "I'm so glad I waited this long to dance", so let's do something about that right now.
Next Article: "Should I Take Private Lessons or Group Lessons?"
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