Static and Dynamic Balance

31 August 2016

One of the absolute most important things in all of dancing, whether it be Latin, Standard, Rhythm, Smooth, New Vogue, Sequence, Ballet, Jazz, or any other kind of dance, is balance. Having proper personal balance is more important than partnering, more important than leg action, and yes, even more important than the fake tan. Without balance, you can do nothing, but did you know there are two types of balance? This article will explain them, and how they tie in to key concepts in Latin and Standard.

Static Balance

When most people think of balance, this is what they think of. Static balance means that everything in your body is lined up properly so that by staying still, you will not fall over. For this to happen, your centre of gravity needs to fall directly over your base. Gravity will pull your centre of balance downward, and your base will support your structure, so you will be perfectly balance. If your base is large, as it is when you stand on two feet, or as the base of your chair is designed to be, then it is easy to have static balance. If your base is small, however, like a ballerina standing on the point of one foot, or like an inverted pyramid, then it is very hard find that perfect balance point. That is not to say it is impossible. Check out this guy, who can balance anything

To have good static balance, you need to have strong ankles and hip stabilizers. Check out this BGBB article, and grade yourself on how strong your ankles really are. Remember that spins on one foot such as Spirals, Hip Twists, and Pirouettes all require good static balance, because your centre of gravity should stay directly over your base.

Dynamic Balance

Dynamic balance is more often used in dancing than static balance. Here, your body is affected not only by gravity, but also by another force: momentum. Both momentum and gravity are pulling on your body in different directions, and your centre and base must be aligned along the combination of those directions. Imagine that you are standing in a field strapped to two bungee cords. One is connected to a tree 100 metres away directly to your south; the other to a tree 100 metres away directly to your west. When those bungee cords both pull on you, the result will be that you travel southwest, and hopefully there isn't a tree in that direction, or you will be in for some pain.

This is what is felt during dancing, because you are not only affected by gravity, but also your movement. Let's say you are dancing a Natural Turn in Waltz. On step 2, you are being affected by both gravity and also the momentum generated from the driving action on the previous step. Therefore, in order to be dynamically balanced, your base (Man's LF, Lady's RF) needs to be between the two forces that are acting on you. This is what is known as technical Sway: an inclination of the body away from the direction of movement. At this point, you have dynamic balance, and by the time you arrive over the foot, you will be able to stop, and have static balance on step 3. That said, dynamic balance does not always end with you in static balance. If you were to dance a Hover Corte, you would not reach a state of static balance on step 2, allowing you to have a controlled fall out of that position into step 3.

So what is the difference between dynamic balance and off balance? Off balance means your balance is not where you want it to be, in order to achieve what you want to do. If you want to stand on one foot for 10 seconds, but your centre of mass is not over your foot, you will begin to fall over, meaning you are off balance. Likewise, if you were to dance a Waltz Natural Turn and on step 2 you had perfectly straight up and down, your momentum would carry you past the foot and you would fall, meaning you are off balance. In order to be properly dynamically balanced, you need to be in control of where your weight is in respect to multiple forces acting upon you.