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Isolation, Chest:
Front-to-Back
Isolation, Chest:
Side-to-Side
Movement, Chest:
Circular
Isolation, Pelvis:
Front-to-Back
Isolation, Pelvis:
Side-to-Side
Movement, Pelvis:
Circular
Movement:
Whole-body Cascade
Movement:
Tango Walk
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Body Movement Exercise: Pelvis, Circular

This tutorial brings together the material covered in the two body isolation exercises:

to form a coherent circular motion. Among the many benefits which will become obvious as we progress, mastery of circular motion will increase greatly the fluidity of your movement thus enhancing the quality of your dancing.

The separation of weight concept is valid now more than ever, as is the health caution which is reiterated below.

Attention:
This exercise involves movement of the lower back. If you suffer from a serious back condition then you should not proceed. If you want to be sure, submit this exercise for evaluation by your physician. If you have determined that it is safe, you should still manage your expectations for suppleness but adopting a 'slowly but surely' approach.


Lesson concepts
From the body isolation: chest tutorials, we have five reference points; one of which is the central neutral position. The other four can be expressed in either the

  • first person perspective i.e. front, back, right and left; or
  • third person perspective from above, using the cardinal compass points i.e. north, south, east and west.

I have chosen to present the material from the third person perspective. This encourages an objective detachment and renders the practices easier to visualise.

The programme comprises a subset of the material similar to that found in the tutorial Body Movement Exercise: Chest, Circular. Not all of the exercises from there have been incorporated because:

  • I have yet to find real-world applications for patterns other than circular motion; and
  • the movements contribute a significant amount of 'noise' to the dance steps themselves, since the hips are directly coupled to the legs as compared to the chest.

Having said that, applying those exercises to your hips does provide an academic advantage as well as bettering your fine control over the movement of your hips. The choice is yours.
 

Exercises

Note: To protect yourself against hypercurvature of your lower back
Place the heels of your palms on your lower back above your hips, on either side of your spine, fingers pointing downwards.

Exercise 1.1 connecting three points
There are two variants of this, the first one returns to the starting point by retracing the path in reverse, the other returns to the beginning by cutting across the centre point.

  • Exercise 1.1.1 reverse direction:
    west - south - east, then east - south - west
     
  • Exercise 1.1.2 going across the centre point:
    west - south - east, then centre - west

 

 
Figure 1.1. Connecting three points

Figure 1.1. Connecting three points
 

Exercise 1.2 semi-circles: filling out the corners
As with exercise 1.1 above, but instead of connecting the points with straight lines, push your hips 'into the corners' to create a curved path.

 

Figure 1.2 Filling out the corners

Figure 1.2. Semi-circles: filling out the corners
 

Exercise 2 full circle
Passing through all four peripheral reference points to form a complete circle, beginning and ending on the same point. For example:

north - west - south - east - north; and
east
- south - west - north - east.
 

Visualisation
Imagine the elastic string, one end attached to a central point far above your head and the other to the pendulum bob that is your pelvic girdle.

Envision the pendulum weight as being heavy and moving slowly, describing a perfectly circular path.

To change direction, feel it coming to a slow stop, and then gradually gather momentum to circle in the opposite direction.


Convergences
We touched upon this idea, the co-ordination of movements on several planes, in the 'Food for thought' section of the Body Movement Exercise: Chest, Circular tutorial. Now, let's add meat to the matter.

Exercise 3 static convergence
For this, you'll need the Exercise 1.2 semi-circle practice (above) reoriented along the north-south axis, going north-south-east-north.

  1. Keep your weight on your left leg as your pelvis moves north to south.
  2. Use the Lower Body Action of the Merengue tutorial a.k.a. Pedalling to transfer your weight to your right leg, moving your hips forward at the same time to achieve the east position. (If you don't move your hips forward, they'll end up south-east)
  3. Use the same pedalling action again to transfer your weight over to your left leg, continuing your forward hip movement to return to the north position.

The trick is to time your forward pelvic movement to coincide with the two transfers of weight.

Eventually, you can short-cut the extreme north and south positions to form a circle.
 

Hip-powered turns
As you recall, a step is a foot placement and a weight transfer. We can extend Exercise 3 (above) by adding a foot placement to achieve a small re-orientation of your body.

Exercise 4 dynamic convergence
I'm going to assume that you're now using the short-cut circular form.

As your hips are in their southward stroke with weight passing onto your left leg, place your right foot about one foot-length forward.

When you transfer your weight onto your right, reorient your centreline slightly anticlockwise.

Continue this process of placing your right foot forward whilst allowing your left foot to pivot in place. This eventually results in a complete turn which is driven by the circular movement of your hips.

Take small steps initially and apply power for the turn using the pelvic circle; a strong visualisation helps. Lowering your stance will bring your major muscle groups more into play to give a smoother driving action, but at the expense of completion of the lower body joint cascade.

 

 
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