Your Frame Makes Or Breaks The Picture
Have you ever seen a picture or a portrait with a terrible frame? It brings the whole ensemble down a notch in the same way that a great frame makes the picture seem that much better. The same happens when you're dancing. If you have a bad frame your partner won't be able to lead or follow as effectively as they would be able to if you have a good or outstanding frame. Frame is one of the most important components to great ballroom dancing. Without a frame there would be no communication between partners, no way to move around the dance floor as a team. The leader's job is to create a frame that shows off the follow as the best looking picture in the room. The follower's job is to reciprocate that frame to show off the connection between partners and make sure everyone watching knows who is creating the best looking picture in the room.
Here is a simple frame breakdown:
Stand in your neutral position (see Waltz Rise and Fall). Reach out in front of yourself with both palms facing down and pretend to a bar in front of you. Now, slowly pull that bar towards yourself until you feel your arms roll into place. Your elbows should be slightly in front of your spine. At this point you have created half of your frame. From elbow to elbow is your frame. That portion of your frame should never move from the position you just found. Elbow to elbow stays the same through all of the moves that are done in a closed position, or where you don't break frame, such as an underarm turn, butterflies, or crossover breaks.
The rest of each arm, from each elbow to the tips of your fingers, consists of the other half of your frame. This half of your frame is free to move and adjust to your partners frame. The lead's left hand is offered to the follow with the thumb pointing up as the follow's right hand forms a 'J' and hooks over the lead's left palm between the index finger and thumb. Lead's should gently wrap their fingers around the follower's hand once they are connected here. On the other side, the leader's right hand forms a flat 'blade' and cups the follow's shoulder blade while the follow's left hand rest on the lead's deltoid, or just below the shoulder.
Both partner's make sure you hold up your own frame! Do not rest on each other! Physically holding each other up is not part of ballroom dancing!
.Disclaimer: This article is meant as a supplement to in-person instruction. It is not intended as an instructional piece to teach you how to dance. Key components of dancing can only be taught in person. To schedule a lesson visit our Lessons & Classes page.