Friday 18 December 2015

Strictly Come Shoulders!

Glitter ball Final!
It's the Strictly Final tomorrow!  Are you a fan?  I am, and I find it very interesting how the judges' comments are often about shoulders and the top line.

So for starters, what is the top line?   In ballroom dancing, it's the line created by the shoulders and arms. 

For Strictly celebrities without a dance background, a lot of work goes into improving their top line and maintaining it throughout each dance.
Top line in the Tango

And why are shoulders such a problem?  Well, we've worked this term in classes on a wide range of exercises to improve balance.  I've asked to sense what your shoulders do when you're physically challenged.  And for many of us the answer is that our shoulders creep up towards our ears!   Indeed, we often express physical (and emotional) stress in our shoulders.  If not an actual lifting upwards, then a tightening in the muscles on the top and back of our shoulders.

Back to Strictly, the sheer amount of coordination, balance and rotation in say, a Viennese Waltz, is immensely challenging.  Feet are following complex steps, overall frame is held throughout and the upper line too needs to be maintained.  And on top of that, the top line needs to look relaxed for an overall effect of smooth, effortlessness.   That's a big ask!

The Amazing Blackpool Tower Ballroom
Interestingly,  in classes we do actually work on many of the same skills - although so far no ballroom moves have been introduced!
In the jive, for example, while arms and legs are following very divergent movements, in our classes we're doing the same - in our standing balances with semaphore arms, in our Knee Drops while legs slide away, arms are each following individual patterns.  Skilled coordination!

And on balance, we've challenged ourselves with eyes open, closed, turning the head, one leg, tandem stance, hip rotation on one leg - and that's just in standing!  We've also challenged our balance in kneeling and on all-fours in our fantastic all-fours stretch.

And for those shoulders, this term they have been treated to some fantastic Franklin Method releases.  Having done those, it's then easier to be aware of shoulders tensing and / or lifting.  Then we can smoothly slide the shoulder blades down towards the back of the waist - enhancing shoulder stability and our top line!

I think that means we're all ready for Strictly now!

Enjoy the final!


  1. I am a big strictly fan and I never knew what on earth they were talking about when the said 'the top line' so that is all very interesting. Thank you.

  2. You're welcome and thanks for your comment!