The dictionary defines poise as “graceful or elegant bearing in a person.” But what does it mean in dancing? In dancing, poise refers to the “pitch of the body and placement of the body weight relative to the feet.” Having the right poise looks graceful and elegant on the dance floor, and also serves a more practical purpose, helping the dancer to maintain balance and shape through movement.
The ideal poise varies among the different partner dances, and can even change at times during the same dance, depending on the requirements of choreography. In the Latin and Rhythm dances, you will learn about the key principal of “forward poise.” Forward poise in Latin American dancing means that the weight is shifted slightly forward toward the inside of the ball of the foot. This forward posture enables both the lightning fast movement that is such an exciting feature of Latin dancing, as well as facilitating the connection between the two dance partners’ body weights.
In American Smooth and International Ballroom dancing, the term poise is usually used to refer primarily to the “stretch of the woman’s body upwards and outwards and leftwards into the man’s right arm to achieve balance and connection with his frame, as well as to project outwards to the audience.” The man also has poise upwards and slightly leftwards to counterbalance the lady’s position, but it is much less dramatic than the lady’s apparently extended stretch. Poise is very closely related to both posture and dance position, and can be constantly changing as the dance position changes. It is very important in the ballroom dances that dancers understand how poise and position are properly created, rather than simply copying the look of advanced dancers. If posture, poise and position are not properly understood, it can result in distortion of balance, restricted movement, and injury to the back.
There are a few simple ways to understand poise in your ballroom dances. Want to learn more? Our Briora instructors can help you learn the appropriate poise in all your dances, so you can achieve a graceful and elegant look on the dance floor! Be sure to attend your favorite group class this month, or ask you instructor for tips at your next lesson.
Our next blog post, will focus on the 3rd “P” – position. Stay tuned!