Good balance is the ability to maintain your equilibrium easily, lightly. If you have ever noticed a small child, toddling about, you have seen that it takes times before a steady, upright walk is achieved. We learn to balance our weight through practice.
Before we go on, supposing you try this simple balance test. Place your weight on the toes of one foot, raising the other foot off the floor several inches, either forward or backward. Do you feel as steady as the Rock of Gibraltar? Most people cannot hold this pose, without wavering, for more than a few seconds.
But, good balance is easy to acquire. In dancing, there are just two things necessary… first, to strengthen the muscles of the toes which carry your weight—second, and for girls only, learn to use your left hand as ballast—to give you added support.
Both men and women can improve their balance and strengthen their toe muscles by dancing alone and by practicing the exercises in this book. Many men feel self-confident—they are not afraid of being wallflowers because they know that they can always ask a girl to dance. But, if those men who “get by” with poor dancing could hear what their partners say about them in the Powder Room, they might be more anxious to improve their technique.
Strengthening the toe muscles will serve you well in other fields than dancing. Good balance is required for football, basketball, tennis, skating, boxing, track, and golf. Further, good balance gives you an attractive and tireless walking posture.
Try the “balance test” again; placing your weight on the toes of one foot, with the other foot extended in the air. Now place your left hand on the top of your dresser or on the back of a chair. It’s easy to stand steadily now, isn’t it?
When you dance, train yourself to hold your left hand very firmly on the back of your partner’s shoulder. Don’t be afraid, you will not seem heavy. He will not feel the slightest discomfort from that pressure. Instead, you will seem lighter to him. If you would like to prove this to yourself, lead one of your girl friends. Have her hold onto your shoulder, steadying her full weight with her left hand. You will find that you can lead her easily, even if she drops her right arm completely.
This is the first bit of training that I give to every female teacher in our studios. My experience has been that I must repeat this warning several times to each girl… Hold your left hand firmly on the back of your partner’s right shoulder!