Dance Lifts and Dips

January 18, 2015 by

Lift, Dip, and Dazzle!

Dance lifts and dips are two elements of ballroom and latin dancing that can be both very exciting and scary. Here at Bella Ballroom we have the pleasure of working with many wedding couples who are non-dancers but want to impress their guests on their special day. Dips and lifts definitely get the “aw” factor out of any audience, but they do take some practice and understanding of body mechanics. For all aspiring dancers wanting show stopping moves, read on for some basic tips helping you prepare to lift, dip, and dazzle!

  1. Take dance lessons! Please do not attempt to “try this at home.” While Internet video channels offer “how-tos” in all fields of dancing, dance lifts and dips are not something you want to figure out on your own. Take guessing out of the equation and let a professional dance instructor help you. (Our Orange County dance studios teachers can help you get a “leg up!”)
  1. Be mindful of weight placement. You have to think about where you’re placing your own weight, where your weight is in relation to your partners, and where your partners weight is or where it’s going to be. Think physics. There are laws of science in place either keeping your dance partner up high with momentum or sending her crashing down with gravity towards the earth. Big differences in weight between partners can either help or hinder a couple depending on who is doing the lifting and dipping.
  1. Body mechanics are key. Those dipping their dance partner should have their feet about shoulder-width apart and firmly planted on the ground. Their back needs to be vertical to the ground and maintain a strong straight posture. Dippers will have to use their quadriceps and overall lowering of their entire body versus bending completely at the waist or completely releasing their arms. The goal is to stay in control, connected to your partner, upright and centered. Lifts also involve being conscious of maintaining a strong body posture. Engaging the core in both dips and lifts is essential to staying centered.
  1. Consider if dance lifts or dips are really a good idea at this time. You have to know your own body and be strong on your own first. If you don’t have good balance on your own, you will need to work on your stability solo before getting involved with a partner. Also, make sure that you’re well rested and not fatigued when jumping into lift and dips. Performing these tricks with a tired body is just asking for a dance disaster.
  1. Momentum, momentum, momentum. Help each other out and commit! For lifts, leads need to brace down and get under the follow. Follows need to help lifting themselves up and can do so by jumping off the floor and pushing off of the leads shoulders. Follows should prepare for the lift my moving their body into the direction they want to end up. Practicing the connecting moves leading up to a lift can also help transition into the trick seamlessly. Depending on the type of lift, partners need to consider how far to position themselves from each other. Some lifts require a duo to be very close to connect, while others require them to be farther apart to allow space for running or creating energy to jump into the move. For dips, the opposite can ring true. Instead of creating momentum, partners need to hone in and control. With the help of gravity, we don’t need as much energy to create a dip as we do to create a lift. Leaders should focus on staying balanced and sturdy, and lowering their partner at a controlled pace. Followers should not rely completely on their lead to hold them up. Followers are still responsible for at least some of their body weight and should practice dipping themselves without their partners’ assistance so that when they do dance together, there will be no room for accidents.
  1. Practice in the pool! Take gravity and hard surfaces out of the equation and you’ve got a great practicing environment!

Now that you’ve considered some of the essential basic elements of lifting and dipping, please remember that safety is always the first priority! Always seek help from a professional before trying any of these moves on your own, and don’t hesitate to ask your Bella Ballroom instructor for guidance and help. Have fun and good luck!

Article by Bella Ballroom’s dance instructor, Ziva.