002: How to Refine Your Sensitivity to Touch: Skin, Muscle, & Bone

by Charles Ogar | Learntokiz.com Podcast

Hello everyone, this is Charles Ogar from Learntokiz.com and we are creating a mini-podcast with advice and tips to help you level up your kizomba skills. In this podcast, we will be covering the concept of skin, muscle, and bone. I love using this concept to show how pressure can be used to touch the skin of your partner to communicate or receive an intention while dancing. I first learned about this concept from an awesome instructor named Lindsay Hutton who is based out of Ottawa, if you ever get a chance to take a class or private from her I HIGHLY recommend it.

So, we are talking about basic human anatomy and our outermost layer, the skin, aka epidermis. Then under the skin, we have our muscles, and under the muscles, we have our bones. Now let’s use our imagination and think of different amounts of pressure we can use against our skin.

The second level of pressure is the muscle layer. If you were to press the top of your hand enough to where the sliding on the top of your hand actually now starts pulling the skin in the direction of the slide, the pull would reach an ending point as your skin can not stretch endlessly. If you remember a time that you have gotten a massage, you can remember or at least imagine the different amounts of pressure the massage therapist used on different parts of your body. The level of touch would go past the top level of the skin and reach your muscles.

Keep in mind that we are using the area of the top of the hand as an example, but this contact could be made anywhere where contact is made with your partner for the sake of communicating or receiving an intention. 

The third level of pressure is much stronger since the contact would go past the level of the skin, past the muscles, and actually reach your bones. This level of pressure should be used in your dance VERY RARELY, to not at all. If the follow is taken off their axis into a lean or lifted completely off the ground, I can definitely see the need to provide support at this bone level, but other than this I feel this level of intention should be avoided completely. As a lead, if anything else is not being picked up by your follow with a muscle level of intention, it is not worth forcing. I will repeat this again, IT IS NOT WORTH FORCING, aka YELLING at your partner in order to do some move. 

When I dance kiz, 80% of my dance is at the skin level, 10% at the muscle level and the other 10% I try to achieve with visual lead and follow technique which makes my leading super light but also super clear. If I try to execute a move with more technique and the follow doesn’t pick up on it after 1 or 2 tries, I simply leave the move alone and keep the dance going with things she is picking up on without trying to force anything to happen at higher levels of pressure as it can be dangerous because it creates bad muscle memory. 

For the role of the lead, it is super important to learn the proper technique to lead with the intention of YOUR BODY, and not the strength of your arms. For the role of the follow, it is important to learn the proper technique to follow lightly with minimal pressure, pick up on visual cues, and know the lines of the dance in order to achieve becoming a light follow that doesn’t need a “strong lead” to lead you on the dance floor. When both the lead and follow have trained in this, they will find their dancing to feel very effortless with minimal effort required to express themselves on the dance floor.

If you’ve taken a couple of kizomba classes or been to a few events, you’ve for sure heard the terms light lead, light follow, heavy lead, heavy follow. We want to be capable of being as light as we can, but there’s no real way to measure how light or heavy our lead or follow is. It would be super awesome to wear bodysuits while we dance to quantify the amount of pressure used in terms of pounds per square inch wherever contact was made and display them on our smartphones. That would provide instant feedback (similar to when we step on a scale to weigh ourselves) to how much pressure we were using and we could adjust accordingly. 

 

I also like to think of light and heavy as two ends of a spectrum similar to temperature that can quantify how hot or cold something is. 100 F degrees is colder than 120 F but still very hot and 10 F is hotter than 5 F but still pretty cold. The same applies for light and heavy, what we perceive as light and heavy depends on our own personal scales of pressure that we have been exposed to. 

I like to use a scale of 0 to 20, 0 would no contact at all, and 20 would be enough energy to lift my partner off the ground. With this in mind, I like to dance within the range of 0 – 5, if I need to use more than a 5 energy to move my partner, it’s not worth battling my partner to force a particular move to happen.

So all in all, I hope listening to this has given you an insight on how to become more aware of the pressure you are using in your dancing. For more free tips like this, please subscribe. If you’d like some exercises and drills around this concept, we have a membership site that you can join, LearntoKiz, and gain access to over 100 videos that cover moves, musicality, lead and follow concepts as we covered here in the podcast, history, and much more!

If you’re interested in seeing more content and ideas to help you level up your kiz, you can join our free Facebook group or join Learntokiz as a member for more in-depth content. We’d love to have you as part of our community!