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Overhead Lifts
Posted by BeadyeyeQ
10/13/2013  11:01:00 AM
I'm curious how much training it requires to perform the sort of lift where a male grips his partner by her hips or ribcage and presses her overhead with her legs extended parallel to the floor, or nearly so; and sometimes with her hands on his shoulders. She assists the move by coming toward him with a slow running leap. I don't know the official name, if there is one, but I believe I've seen it done before on SYTYCD or DWTS.

A story I'm writing has a scene in a middle school gym class where ballroom dancing is taught as an elective, and a non-dancer student who happens to be very strong is asked to fill in and help the girls with lifts like the above. The girls all weigh no more than 100 lbs, and the boy is easily capable of handling that much with a barbell press.

If he could also realistically lift a girl with just a few minutes of instruction, that would be great. However, I want the scene to be plausible, so if this sort of thing would never happen in real life, then I'll need to think of something else. Maybe the boy could just fill in as a spotter instead of doing the actual lifts with no experience. Or perhaps he could do a safer and less complicated lift.

Your thoughts would be appreciated.
Re: Overhead Lifts
Posted by dancer
10/16/2013  2:05:00 PM
It's good that you ask. Sorry a head of time if anything sounds :( I'm just trying to be real. I think it's great that you are trying to research first and I hope this will be helpful. I use to do overhead lifts, spot and sometimes lift (not overhead).

In Ballroom there are no overhead lifts unless it is a Show dance.

The female almost always has gymnastics/acro training and or very high level Ballet or Jazz along with Professional Ballroom training. She has to be able to hold her body weight centred and toned in so that the male can hold her up.She needs to know how to fall and there needs to be a matt and a spotter till they get it really good.Highly skilled females are unlikely to just do an overhead lift at a gym floor with someone who they just met without professional supervision.

In reality a lift like this at a middle school gym is unlikely. A Ballroom Dance Instructor would not to teach this kind of a lift under those conditions. Some Insurance policies don't cover over head lifts or aerials and it's best for all participants to sign a waiver. This makes everything into a headache for the Instructor , School and possibly for the female being lifted if she falls.Ballroom dance should be a dance not a stunt.

Being a Spotter can be tricky and they need to know what to look for and have accurate timing.

Ballroom itself is complicated enough....that story goes on forever....

Good luck with your story.
Re: Overhead Lifts
Posted by fellowdan
10/24/2013  5:20:00 PM
I was a theatrical ballroom dancer (that is, my performances included all the lifts - I mean, just about every lift imaginable (except for the famous "girl standing on man's hand" lift that was just too much trouble for what it was worth in applause). But the lift you mention was one of the very first lifts I ever did, and yes, we actually did learn the lift in a school gym. Some of us were indeed "non-dancers." However, our teacher moved us to the gymnastics room because there were foam pits in that room, in case we men fell backwards when the girl came running toward us. It actually made learning the lifts quite fun because the girls just fell into the pit and no one got hurt. Perhaps you could incorporate that scenario into your scene, which could add a little humor?

With respect to overhead lifts in general, I was taught over 20 lifts by the incomparable Francois Szony, who taught overhead lifts to all the great dancers of Europe in the ballet and modern dance schools there, including the Kirov Ballet and the Royal Ballet of England. Francois had one very basic rule: the man must be able to lift his partner from a dead weight position from the floor to completely overhead; not because that is what you DO when you dance, but rather what you would HAVE TO DO if you or your partners' timing was off and you wanted to "save" the lift, as there are many variables going on when you perform, and either you or your partner could blow the timing of the lift. Most mean cannot lift their partner over their head as dead weight, but generally, if you can lift 1/3 of your partner's actual dead weight, you can combine that strength with the partner's jump and once she is above your head you "lock" your skeleton and voila, you are in the lift. However, the secret is not in getting her up, but rather, controlling the descent, which takes good strength on the part of both the lifter and the liftee.

When learning, it is always better to have a spotter, but once you have timed the lift, the spotter should back off.

Hope this helps! Cheers, Dan Rann
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