10 Tips for Ballroom Pivots
Below is an extract of an article I read from Dancecompreview about how to execute ballroom pivots. I posted it here for my own easy reference as well as for fellow dancers.
To start, let’s understand the definition of the classic ballroom pivot:
A single pivot is a 180 degree rotation of the bodies of both partners around common axis.
During the rotation, the ball of the standing foot swivels on the floor to a maximum of a ½ turn.
Now, let’s look at the components of a ballroom pivot:
1) A strong clear heel-toe step of the forward moving partner, establishes the location of the common axis and the momentum of the pivot.
2) The stepping foot is along the path of the other foot for a contra body movement position.
3) The contra body movement position supports a clear right side lead, and the ½ turn swivel of standing foot enables partners to exactly exchange positions while moving down line of dance.
4) With this change in position, the partner that initially set the axis and initiated the momentum of the turn, now receives the position and momentum from the other partner, to complete the next ½ turn.
Finally, it is important to understand that balance, rotation and responsibility make the difference to success:
1) Turn from the base, with a light and static connection at the top.Propelling the turn from the top will cause you to loose balance.
2) In stepping forward, keep your foot straight forward with your knee and thigh also straight forward. A slightly turned in foot is
typically OK because it keeps your weight centered, and your knee and thigh will still face straight forward. An even slightly
turned out foot will make you more likely to overturn, loose couple balance or change the direction of the line that the pivots
follow. The foot that steps back, also needs to be straight.
3) Ensure that your weight is fully on the standing foot before you turn. This supports balance and precision for an exact 180
rotation on the ball of the foot.
4) Make sure that your ribs are compact and not puffed out, your chin is parallel to the floor, your pelvis is straight and held right
under your shoulders, and your knees are soft. This all just good form, but in pivots, you cannot get away with cutting
5) Your legs need to be held in a locked position, with your thighs together, firm and connected to your partner.This establishes a
solid common base for your couple, and is important to make the pivot possible.
6) Take the momentum from your base and think of moving your sides from one side lead position to another. This supports a
clean vertical rotation, exactly around the common axis, by exactly 180 degrees.
7) Keep the heel of the back foot off the ground at all times to prevent a harsh stop to your movements.
8) If all of this is done correctly, the pivot should look and feel effortless. Undue body tension, will draw weight to the tense area of
the body and will unbalance you.
9) Practicing will show you the amount of power you need to drive the right momentum. Too much power and you will not be able
to do a clean position change to 180 degrees. Too little power and you will not get to 180 degrees.
10) Both partners have completely equally responsibly in dancing. Pivots show this point very clearly. Some people claim that it
must be their partner’s fault for problems with pivots, because they are able to do them perfectly on their own. The fact is that
on your own, you can often compensate for small errors. It is harder to hide errors with a partner. If things are not going well,
check the detail of everything you are doing first, then figure out what you need to do together.
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