The mystery of frame

(Hi all – Apologies for the silence these past few weeks. My day job was eating up a lot of my time and I had to put this aside. However, I am now back and will post new entries more frequently, at least once or twice a week. Thanks for reading and responding! – Eric)

How many times have you heard an instructor use the word “frame” in a dance class? No doubt, plenty of times.

And how many times have you been told to “maintain your frame” or “don’t break frame” by an instructor? We all have at some time or another.

Now how many times have you heard a dance instructor actually give a definition of the word “frame” in a dance class? Think carefully. My guess is, for most of you, the answer is: never.

Think about what “frame” means to you, then post your best definitions here on this blog. What is the definition you know? What is the definition you use to dance? What is the definition of frame you use to teach? Share your answers here!


  1. The definition for "frame" that I use for partner dancing is:The shapes and forms that our body parts use in order to create a pleasing body line as well as create contact points to a partner.If we are solo dancing, it's just the shapes and forms our body parts create that present a pleasing picture.For example, a formal waltz frame with have the arms for the leader shaped thusly and the follow would also mirror-shape her arms so that they would touch the hand and shoulder "points" the leader has presented to her.When it's said that one has "poor frame" or have "broken their frame", it means the contact points no longer send the information about CENTER that would help the partner to lead or follow … or, in the case of solo, it no longer sends a picture of pleasing body lines.

  2. Hey, who knew this blog was here. Nice. I just read a bunch.So, at my adv. beginner level I know I try to connect through my ‘bra strap’ (or Pilates) muscles and my upper arms are involved. However, a teacher commented recently that I was using my back too much and should, instead, imagine that the leader and I are forming a big circle or hula hoop: the slight outward pressure of my arms is creating my part of this contour. …If I got that right…This was a different way of thinking about frame for me.

  3. Thanks, Shawn, for sharing your experience! (And please comment on any post you like!) I find your creation of frame – and your teacher's advice – interesting. Can you share a bit as to why you create frame that way? What is the reason and rationale for that particular frame? And do you have a broader definition of what frame is?

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