Research article
Volume 3, No. 2, 2011, 49-56
Oæga KyseloviËov·* and Milan äp·nik
Faculty of Physical Education and Sports
Comenius University, Bratislava, Slovakia
In dance, biomechanical methodologies are used to improve aspects of dance
technique. Therefore the aim of our study was to gain knowledge of the kinematic structure
of the feather step in slow fox routine. Material and methods: Four top level dance couples
were involved in the study. To examine the routine biomechanically we have filmed the
particular dance figures by high speed camera with frequency of 50 frames per second.
Subsequently, we processed and evaluated digitalized images by 2D analysis. The path of
gravity and angular changes in knee joint in the particular dance figures phases were
evaluated and compared between partners and pairs together. Results: Dancing couples in the
same conditions reached different readings in angle of the knee joint as well as trajectory of
the centre of gravity during motion.
Keywords: modern ball room dance,
2 dimensional biomechanical analyse, kinematic
parameters, trajectory of centre of gravity, angle at knee joint
Modern ballroom dancing is a widely performed physical activity which is starting to
be considered an actual sport discipline. The aspects of ballroom dance are used for mediating
some basic aesthetical values. Dance, as other sports supports and forms physical abilities,
discipline, additionally creates aesthetical sense, collective feelings and improves relationship
to music. It is art and sport in one and it is also a physical activity, which is done by people of
different sexes (Holuö, 1983).We do agree with some statements of Schnabel (1988), Choutka
& Dovalil (1991), according to whom the structures of movement are the most difficult, and
highly automatic. Aerobic type of work alternates with significant anaerobic one.
* Corresponding author. Faculty of Physical Education and Sports, Comenius University, Department of
Gymnastics, L. Svobodu 9, 814 69, Bratislava, Slovakia, e-mail: kyselovicova@fsport.uniba.sk
© 2010 Faculty of Sport and Physical Education, University of Novi Sad, Serbia
O. KyseloviËov· and M. äp·nik
Requirements for coordination ability and creativity of the movement are high, with various
dance figures. A figure according to Kasa (2001) can be characterized as a movement that
creates a particular area and spatial patterns. The dance figures in modern ballroom dance are
performed in a closed dance ñ position, which s the limiting factor of performing the
movement (äp·nik, 2009). The way of centre of movement, its horizontal and vertical
differences are very important and therefore every dancer must know where exactly his centre
of movement is at the particular moment.
It is well known that improving the efficiency at sport is determined by looking for
some factors and more detailed analyses of them. One of these factors is the kinematic
structure of a particular moving activity, practising shape or dancing figure. Its level with
other factors influence and imitate increasing and improving sport efficiency (KyseloviËov·,
2008). The system of improving the technique by qualitative bioemechanical analyse includes
the following steps
(McGinnis, 1999): creating theoretical model of the most effective
technique, observing the particular model, evaluating efficiency by comparing the most
effective technique, learning from feedback of the current performance and the most effective
Evaluating sport performance at the dance sport is not absolute. It is not possible to
measure. Landsfeld (2001) claims that the task of judges is to differ and compare performed
sport efficiencies on the floor and OdstrËil (2004) divides evaluation into areas like tact and
basic rhythm, body line, movement, rhythmical expression, technique of feet, and the floor
wisdom. According to the international rules of evaluating (IDSF, 2002), OdstrËil (2004) also
claims that the main criteria is tact and basic rhythm. All the others are on the same level and
it is up to the referee how high importance he is going to put them.
The Slow fox dance is the most difficult ballroom dance according to technique. It has
four 4/4 tact, tempo is 29 - 30 tact per minute. The switching of slow and fast movements
creates a continual movement, which must be perfectly fluent, relaxed and controlled as well
(Loja, 2006). The basic characteristic feature is walking and three steps. All the figures are
made on the base of these two main features. Dance couples dance this from the very
beginners till the masters, who are performing and showing us their technique level. That is
why the proper technique is so important, and more, it is the key to solve the question of the
movement¥s task, which is in harmony with the possibilities of the individual, biomechanical
rules of movements and it is done by neurophysical control of movements and it leads to the
most effective and advisable performing movements (Koniar, 1986; Psalman & é·k, 2009;
Psalman, 2010). One of the parts of gaining the proper technique of figures is gaining the
detailed information about dominant phases, their micro phases and understanding the
technique of realization. Therefore the aim of our study was to gain knowledge of the
kinematic structure of the feather step in slow fox routine.
Technique description of the Feather step
The feather step belongs into the most basic figures with rhythm of ìslowî, ìquickî,
and ìquickî. It is formed of three fluent steps: 1st step is defined as the part of a movement,
when foot is about to move on the floor, then in the time and space, when it is moving next to
the standing foot, then forwards or backwards till the moment of when the cradle begins; 2nd
step or the cradle, when the feet don¥t move on the floor, 3rd step begins from the moment of
standing on the spot, through moving the centre from the standing foot to the stepping one,
Kinematic structure of the Slow Fox Feather step
which is beginning to be standing as well, till the moment when the tip or heel move on the
floor again. For better understanding and analyse Feather step is split into 12 phases as
follows (example of male partner performance): 1.step down right (first step); 2.step off left
leg (first step); 3.step off right leg (first step); 4.step left leg (first step); 5.step down left
(second step); 6.step off right leg (second step); 7.step off left leg (second step); 8.step right
leg (second step);
9.step down right (third step); 10.step off left leg (third step); 11.step off
right leg (third step); 12.step left leg (third step). Partners are dancing in face to face position.
Design of the study
Four top level dance couples (with the highest ÑSìperformance level) were involved in
the study (average age 24,3±2,2 years). To examine the routine and the particular feather step
biomechanically we have filmed dance figures by high speed camera with frequency 50
frames per second. Partners danced separately while recording the video. This method was
chosen in order to see all necessary points for precise and correct evaluation, otherwise it
might happened that partners would cover each other while dancing in pairs. In total, 19
anthropometrical points were evaluated, to which we emphasised vertical and horizontal
points. In order to analyse the particular movement, a kinogram was created. Subsequently,
we processed and evaluated digitalized images by 2D analysis. The measured data (the path
of gravity and angular changes at knee joint) were documented, evaluated and compared
between male and female partners as well as dance couples by programme ADOBE
All measured data were compared with dance partners of each other. The spatial
characteristics of movement are documented at the knee joint angles during the download
phases of the stepping leg and knee joint angle of the stance leg as well as during the cradle
(at the moment of out stepping). Next, we followed the path of centre of gravity (COG) of the
male and female partners. From the all measured values we have chosen only those after
every 25 cm of movement, because of so called ìwaveî movement, which is very typical and
involved in almost every dance figure pattern.
Trajectory of COG during the feather step while dancing Slow fox in the group of
male partners is almost identical (figure 1). Dance figure constitutes wavelike pattern (lift and
decrease phase), having a similar course for all partners. The difference is in the installation of
gravity and height, which is very individual. By comparing the partners the results show a
flatter trajectory of the centre of gravity in Partner 3. Thus, its uplift and reduction phases
compared to the other dancers of their minimum. On the other hand, the longest path of
movement (3.9 m), hence maximum lift phase of partner 4 is beyond the limitation of 2.5 m
distance (figure 1).
O. KyseloviËov· and M. äp·nik
Figure 1. Trajectory of Centre of Gravity in Feather step during Slow Fox (men)
The value of COG in female dancers documents different trajectory, lifts and
reduction phases as well. The most identical, as it is apparent on figure 2, is the distance of
approximately 1.25 m, which creates a very similar wave of movement. The longest feather
step of Partner 2 (with the length of 3,39 m) results in flatter course of movement.
Figure 2. Trajectory of Centre of Gravity in Feather step during Slow Fox (women)
To show the identical movements of each partner is important for their fluency without
vertical difference and lost of contact. Therefore we compare the same characteristics within
dance couples. While in Couple 1 the trajectory almost matched, couple 2 show always
different path of COG, which can cause asymmetrical, none well synchronized movement.
The length of the feather step was nearly the same in the case of this couple; the only
difference was just 6 cm.
The trajectory of COG in couple 3 is noticeable flatter at the first step and the
following lift with approximately the same character of the wave at the both partners, but with
Kinematic structure of the Slow Fox Feather step
a difference of 62 cm in length. On the basis of the different dance figure at the partner the tip
of lift is moved at the wave. The male reaches his maximum lift at the distance 2,25 to 2,5 m,
while the female could reach it at the 2 m distance.
Comparing male and female parameters in couple 4 we consider the path of COG is 75
cm longer in the male. Based on this difference the tip of wave is moved as well. The male
has a maximum lift at the vary distance 2,5 till 2,75 m, female
2,25 m, which means that a
woman has a flatter area of the centre of movement than a partner in the first step.
The results of angular changes are shown in figures 3 ñ 6. The angle of the knee joint
during the stepping phases (as described previously) was measured for male and female
partners. The angle in the stepping out phase of the right moving leg as well as for the step off
phase is the biggest for male partner 4 (figure 6). During the second step the angle at the knee
joint on the right leg was very similar in all the partners with a small divergence for male in
dance couple 4. Interestingly, the same person reached the biggest angle (164°) also during
the third step.
Figure 3. Angular changes during the Feather step in different phases
Figure 4. Angular changes during the Feather step in different phases
O. KyseloviËov· and M. äp·nik
Figure 5. Angular changes during the Feather step in different phases
Figure 6 Angular changes during the Feather step in different phases
For female partners the results are almost similar in comparison to men. The greatest
divergence showed partner number 2 and that is 16° more than the others (the first step). Very
similar values have been measured in the knee joint of the right moving leg. The angle during
step off the right standing leg was similar at partners with numbers 1, 3 and 4. The left
moving leg was bended at similar angle in partners 1, 4 and 2, 3. Further, figures 3, 4, 5, and 6
clarify the differences between male and female within the same couple.
All four dance couples differed slightly in measured spatial characteristics. Despite this
fact, no couple made a mistake while performing the steps, either in stepping technique or the
lined rhythm, and the evaluation showed correct technique. Dancing couples in the same
conditions reached different readings in angle of the knee joint as well as trajectory of the
centre of gravity during motion. This may be due to differences in somathotype, lack of
compression of the stance leg or vice versa too much reduction. Lack of the compression or
excessive reduction may interfere with the course in the nature dance movement, but also in
pairs, if not done at the same level. During this movement will be mainly different trajectory
to the centre of gravity. Will therefore correspond to each characteristic wave dance track
Kinematic structure of the Slow Fox Feather step
shown is figure and gravity. Reduction of quality or stroke will occur vertically excessive
fluctuations in the movement of a pair and will not be symmetrical. The readings will be less
variance between each pair, the movement is in a pair of compact vertical without
fluctuations. The spatial characteristics of movement are documented in individual
Despite of popularity of dances in general few studies are reported in literature.
Additionally, such biomechanical analyse of the movement was done at the dance sport in
Slovak Republic for the first time. Therefore, the results are hardly comparable because of
different dances, dance figures, tempo and rhythm, etc.
It is concluded that a better understanding of the movement is important for creating
teaching models that will improve and enhance technical potential.
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Submitted November 2, 2011
Accepted December 15, 2011