I am a qualified teacher in International Ballroom. When I see American Smooth I noticed come variations dance without progression or against LOD, so my question is when you are in a crowded floor how come dance American Smooth?
Honestly, I'm scratching my head a bit... Which patterns are you refering to in which dance that go against LOD? The only one specifically that I can think of is a right turning promenade in the Tango. Certainly none of my Waltz patterns go against LOD...
Both International and American styles follow the same rules of floorcraft, which is to say that there is a general flow of movement counterclockwise around the dance floor. But by "general flow", it is meant that you must follow this flow only in a very general sense; It is not a strict directive to continue to move straight in one direction without ever deviating from the path. One may zig zag in and out, moving diagonally across (or occasionally even straight across), pause momentarily, or in rare instances even take a step or two against the line of dance. It's all acceptable provided the overall movement is ultimately advancing in the appropriate direction, and as long as deviations are taken sensibly and with care. As a seasoned International dancer, you are probably already aware of the guidelines to good floorcraft, and you can apply those equally to American style.
Nonetheless, I think it's fair to say that the theory and the reality are not exactly the same. In the real world, at least on the competition circuit, American smooth dancers these days do indeed tend to travel slower than standard competitors. 10 years ago, we would complete about 3 long sides in a 1:40 routine, whereas nowadays the average seems to be closer to only 2. One can only guess whether this trend will continue, but it is more indicative of current artistic preferences than anything inherent in the style itself.
As to the variation on BallroomDancers.com, you may be misreading it. It consists of a Reverse Turn, Cross Body Lead w/ Underarm Turn to Side-by-Side Explosion, Spot Run, Open Natural Turns, Free Spin to Fencing Line, Roll In to Whiplash, and 3 runs to finish with 4-6 Natural Turn. Of all of these movements, only the lady's roll in from the fencing line actually move directly against line of dance, and the man is behind her to keep the space clear of "intruders", so to speak. The explosion to spot run is stationary for exactly 5 measures, which is far less than the typical Fleckerl in Int'l style. So all in all, this routine actually moves quite actively in a positive direction throughout... even more so than many Int'l routines of equal length.
If you saw something else in the video that appears to move against line of dance, chances are you weren't visualizing the room as small as it actually is, which is about 1/3 the size of a normal competition long side, and really no short side at all. So the dancers are forced to turn corners and change direction very quickly. They begin moving from the left side of the stage to the right, but by the time they begin the open naturals, they are turning the corner and moving to the right again. This would all be considered moving along line of dance in a small room.
To see the proper alignments for this or any other figure, scroll down the page and click on the tab for either the man's or the lady's parts. This should help clear up any confusion.
Regards, Jonathan Atkinson www.ballroomdancers.com
If you are dancing Foxtrot and approach a corner with another couple just behind you, should you dance a Hover Cross and get in the other couple's way?
Depends on whether I'm dancing on a social floor or at a competition.
When I'm in advance, it's my right of way as I've established the space first. So technically I'm within my right to dance a stationary figure. And if I'm competing, I'm not going to mind if this disturbs another couple's trajectory; It is actually to my advantage. On a social floor, I will be much more courteous -- especially when dancing ahead of a couple who may be of limited driving ability.
On the flip side, I would never "tailgate" someone so closely that I wasn't able to deviate should they decide to slow down or stop -- not unlike driving. The only time dancing a figure like Hover Cross should be a problem in a corner (or elsewhere for that matter) is when the approaching couple does not have the ability to maneuver... a rare instance, we hope.
We find that when we dance Standard on the same floor with other people doing American Silver, the two styles progress at different speeds. Sometimes this is a problem.
Really, they shouldn't. Silver level is composed primarily of traveling figures, punctuated with the occasional pause, similar to silver Standard. But then again, we're talking about what is, and not what should be. So I'll address that:
What I find is that American couples move just as fast but stop more often and for longer phrases of music (typically more of a problem in Gold and above, not as much in closed silver). But this doesn't usually cause as much of an issue as the fact that they take up so much more space in general, because their dance positions allow for it.
If you think it's difficult dancing Standard with a couple of American style dancers on a mixed social floor, try dancing Smooth in a competitive semi-final with 11 other Smooth couples. It isn't easy, but we do manage to get by somehow. The advantage you have as a standard dancer is the ability to make quicker changes, as you have more contact points and a more compact, controllable position. So it should be considerably easier for you as a standard dancer to make quick, on-the-fly adjustments.
In the end I think it comes down to expectations and attitude. When I'm dancing at a party I expect people to be continually moving with only occasional stops, whereas during lesson time, I'm well aware that there could be a group of 4 people standing in one place for a good 45 minutes. If this was a party, I might find myself irritated with a permanent obstacle, but that's really a matter of expectations. I can deal with it at lesson time, so I should be able to deal with it equally well at a party.
Even the best of us can become occasionally frustrated with having to share our space, especially when it seems like the other parties are not "following the rules". If the problem is severe enough, I suppose you could complain to the studio manager. But most situations do not call for such extremes, and so I would suggest making your life easier by adjusting your mental approach: Rather than worrying about whether or not somebody else *should* be in your way, just look at every obstacle as an opportunity to improve your own floorcraft.
I had a teacher who would make us dance rounds, and while we were doing so she would jump in our way, push us over, and generally make life difficult. I paid good money for that, and it was worth every penny. I now do the same thing to my own students. The point is, when someone gets in your way, just whisper the word "opportunity" to yourself under your breath, and rate your own reaction on a scale of 1 to 10. How did you do? The more you practice, the better you become as a dancer. And the more opportunities you get to practice, the faster you improve. So obstacles are really free lessons. Keep that in mind, and you might just develop a fondness fo