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Maximizing Your Motion

In order to get the most from your hip motion, the following technical points should be observed:

Poise forward.
The body weight should always be held forward towards the balls of the feet in the Latin dances. This helps facilitate the rotational action of the hips around the spine.

Use turnout.
Turning your feet out is an essential element in producing effective hip motion. Not only does it provide a more stable base over which the body can balance, but the feet themselves tend to be more visually appealing. Most importantly, the turnout of the feet increases the range of motion of your hips. Since our goal is to maximize the rotation of the hips around the spine, more turnout is better.

Bend knees inward.
The natural position of the knees causes them to bend at the same angle as the feet. Since your feet are (presumably) turned out, you will have a natural tendency to bend the knees outward at the same angle. But believe it or not, bending the knees outward is actually undesirable because when you do so, you limit the range of motion of the hips. More specifically, you limit the amount to which the opposite hip can rotate backwards. So when you bend the knee, try to always bend it inward, toward the direction of the straight leg.

Roll to the inside edges of the feet.
In order to bend the knee inward while your feet are turned out, the foot underneath the bent knee should roll to the inside edge. If your foot has not rolled to the inside edge, then either the knee has not bent inward, or the feet have not maintained turnout.

Push the knee straight back.
When practicing hip action, do not neglect the importance of the straight leg. It is a very common mistake to focus so much on the bent knee, that the opposite knee does not straighten as it is supposed to. This prevents the hip from rotating backwards. In order to get the maximum angle and rotation from your hips, you should try to actually push the straight leg backwards. The hip over the straight leg will push backwards, too.

Isolating The Hips

Keep the shoulder line level.
Do not pitch or sway the entire body. When the angle of the hips changes, you must compensate by lengthening and shortening the appropriate sides of the torso so that the shoulders remain level. The side of the torso over the bent knee must stretch and lengthen, while the side of the torso over the straight knee must squeeze and shorten.

Don't rotate the shoulders with the hips.
The upper body is to remain steady and isolated from the movement of the hips. When the hip over the straight leg rotates backward, at the same time try to rotate the upper back in the opposite direction to help maintain their position.

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