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  (01/16/2009 wh)  View all pages on this site Site Index

Physics as applied to dancing

Physics as applied to dancing.

Think about a dance that is full of movement. Watching a couple dance a good Two Step or Swing is like watching constant movement but it's not quite. Those that remember their High School Physics will also remember Newton's Three Laws pertaining to Force, motion and inertia (momentum).

To get moving you will use the Third Law:

"For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction."

Hopefully we don't move because our partner is pushing or pulling but because the force of our foot against the floor is propelling us along.

While doing this the First Law comes into play:

"An object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted on by an unbalanced force."

The force against the floor is balanced when you are standing still. Exert more force against the floor, the force becomes unbalanced and you move "opposite the direction of force"

Now you are moving. To keep moving you are constantly pushing against the floor and any change will change your "momentum." Momentum is "Inertia" and cannot be lost. Only transferred. Start turning or moving and attempt to go faster. To do this you must exert more pressure toward the floor. This transfers inertia to your forward movement. Now try to stop. You must exert much more force toward the floor to do so. This cannot happen instantly and is why the men need to learn to utilize the lady's existing momentum or inertia whenever possible. Quickly changing directions requires so much more energy that if done enough both partners are quickly exhausted. You have to use energy to stop and then more energy to move again.

A quick study on inertia is learned while dancing West Coast Swing (WCS). The compression on a push break is no more than transferring inertia. You are turning forward movement into backward movement. To make it smooth, men must keep in mind the "unbalanced force" of Newton's First Law. Men tend to be larger (in most cases) and have more force unless controlled (absorbed by less pressure against the floor). There must be a good balance of force between the floor and the partners.

Do you ever wonder why some dancers turn easier and faster than others. Balance plays a big part in turning as do all the above Laws of Motion. Sticky shoe bottoms create friction which is no more than a force pushing back at our attempted turning motion. More foot in contact with the floor will create the same problem. An off balance condition creates a constant transfer of inertia away from the turning action.

The great part of all this is that the Lord blessed us with a brain that has the capacity to calculate all of the above without hardly any conscious effort.

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Thought for a day..

You are only young once, and if you work it right, once is enough.
~ Joe E. Lewis ~

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(www.twosteptidewater.com The Best smoke free Country & Western two step (2-step, Texas two-step), Ballroom, Latin, Disco (Hustle), West Coast Swing (WCS), Night Club two-step, Swing Dancing for all of South East Virginia (VA) or North East North Carolina beaches areas  (Norfolk VA, Virginia Beach VA, Chesapeake VA, Suffolk VA, Portsmouth VA, Newport News VA, Hampton va, Hampton Roads VA, Yorktown VA, Gloucester VA, Jamestown VA, Williamsburg VA, Hickory NC, and the beaches and outer banks of North Carolina (NC)