Building Body Awareness

West Coast Swing Online Grab Bag

Have you ever watched your dancing and thought, “I didn’t think my [body part] was in such a weird place!”? It’s very common to find your hands, feet, head—and almost any other part of your body—in an awkward position. This drill will develop your body awareness so those awkward moments are less common.

The Drill: Without a partner, stand in front of a mirror. Close your eyes and move to a specific position, like hitting an arm line. Imagine where all the parts of your body are as you move to this position.

Then, without moving, open your eyes and check where you actually ended up. If you tried to move your arm to parallel with the ground, for instance, is it actually parallel, or is it pointing slightly up? Are your wrists and elbows smoothly in the line, or is one of your joints bent at an odd angle? If there’s something off about your position, fix it, then relax and try to hit that position again.

The technical term for body awareness is “proprioception”: the awareness of where one’s body parts are. Most of us have pretty good proprioception for basic life tasks, like walking and picking up a pen. However, we have less experience coordinating our body like we do in dance. As a result, using a mirror to get feedback on where your limbs actually are is important for effortlessly going to specific positions on a whim.

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