Throughout your dancing you must have come across the terms like standing leg, dancing leg or working leg. It’s a simple concept to understand but the tricky part is how to actually use it when you dance.
In the post, you will find out how to use the supporting leg more efficiently.
Let’s start with brief definitions:
In Ballroom and Latin we call the leg on which we have all our weight – the standing leg. In ballet it's usually referred to as a supporting leg. Another term some teachers use is a working leg.
If one leg is a standing leg, the other one is a dancing (moving or free) leg. I personally prefer to use the term dancing leg as it’s the one that moves and has very little or no weight on it.
I heard before the term “active” leg instead of the dancing leg but I wouldn’t use it as it suggests the other leg is inactive, which is not true!
So how do you use the supporting leg when moving in Ballroom dances?
Imagine you are about to sit on a chair with your knee flexing. The hamstrings and glutes should always be engaged.
You can test it by poking your bum- it should feel hard (not like jelly).
When it comes to pushing from the foot, think of the heel rather than toe. Otherwise you will spring up in the air with less control. Pushing off through the heel gives more stability.
In Latin the idea is very similar but the knee will remain straight.
The most common problem is that dancers focus so much on their dancing leg instead of the supporting one.
Lets have look at the first three steps of a Natural Turn in a Slow Waltz.
We know the foot steps are Right Left Right as a leader. However, this makes you think of the dancing leg and most dancers will just move it (and forget the supporting leg).
Instead, try to think Left Right Left which applies to work you do on the supporting leg. It will feel very strange at first, but this is a much better way to make sure you’re using and pushing off from a standing leg.
You may notice that when you don’t use your supporting leg correctly, the dance itself will look "ungrounded" with no control. Ultimately that lack of control will make you fall into the step rather than consciously move your body.
You should always be aware which leg is supporting and which one is dancing!
In summary, both supporting and dancing legs are equally important. The role of the supporting leg is to give you balance, power and stability. Whereas the dancing leg creates the magic which in fact can only happen when the supporting leg is fully used.
Work on it and you will discover that you have a lot more control over your dancing than ever before.
I hope you enjoyed this post and if you liked it please share and subscribe.
Thanks and see you for the next video of the Dancer’s Guide.
Author: Marcin Raczynski
Photo Credits: Sam's Photography