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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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