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Plaza Column - View article
Written by : Max M Ali MD
Date : 02-26-2004
Title : Hilliers: Back to Basics
Article: Dancing Tid-bits Issue #171, Thursday, February 26, 2004.

Today's Topic: Hilliers: Back to Basics

I can't write it all because there is so much to it in 1 hour. However let me tell you this, you have heard it a million times before and you will hear it a million times more and each time you will wonder, o' my howcome I am lacking so much in my basics. So, just a few pointers:

1. How do you hold the lady and how do you stand and how do you start the dance? It is really quite simple but of course the poise is slightly different for the man and lady. The man stands tall and straight. He elongates his spine (easier said than done) and therefore will pull his stomach. Some beginners may ask how do you elongate your spine. My answer is simple, try to hit the ceiling with top of your head but keep the shoulders relaxed and to the gravity. You will automatically feel that your stomach pulls in and your pelvis tucks underneath the spine. This bracing of the upper body does not change throughout the dance even though there will be constant shaping and forming of your bodies. Hilliers called it a constant state of "flux".

2. Lady does all the above things but in addition she poises herself slightly back from the waist and shapes her upper body with a slight tilt of her head (and body) to left. Stephen and Jennifer both emphasized that it is not that she turns her head to left, which looks rather bad.

3. Man places her to his right side or that she comes in position to his right and they hold on to each other. Man has created a big window above the curve of the lady's right arm. He maintains this window at all times.

4. They will never encroach on each other's space. Simply said, man should never move to his right to disturb his window.

5. Man's right hand should have neatly closed fingers and thumb should be closed. Interestingly he said that it took him some time in his earlier days and that he learned that from his teacher Mr. Anthony Hurley. If you really close your thumb nicely, there is a prominent little muscle that creates beauty in the hand. He did not name the muscle but I think it is called Adductor Pollicis.

6. Man's left hand and lady's right are joined together with straight lines of the wrist for the man but lady shapes her wrist to accommodate his grasp. Stephen and Jennifer prefer to close their thumbs to first finger and therefore their thumbs are against each other (not wrapped around) more or less vertical.

7. Knees are soft and not stiff.

8. The forward movement: "The quality of forward movement is produced by the supporting leg." I think this was an interesting and important statement. I also think it is true for all other situations and implies tone, the rotation and softening of the knee of the supporting leg.

Then we had Impetus Turns and Telemarks and Chasses etc and how can I write it all. I was consumed by the lecture and spent a restless night dancing in bed. So, have a good morning and talk to you later, Best Wishes...Max