A lift is a move where the follow maintains contact with the lead while losing contact with the floor. In other words, her feet leave the ground, but the lead supports or lifts her.
Always observe safety first when doing a lift. Nothing ruins a night of dancing like being dropped or dropping someone. When reading about a lift, look for points of contact and specific signals. Always study the move carefully before attempting it. It is also recommended that you practice with a spotter, and/or padding such as foam mats or thick carpet.
How to Practice Lifts Safely
- Both partners should wear comfortable, stretchy clothing that does not have loose layers that can get caught. Make sure your pockets don’t have sharp or bulky objects like keys. I also recommend that the follow wear pants to avoid friction burn. You may wear footwear, but you might not want to depending on where you are practicing and what you are practicing.
- Try: yoga pants, loose fitting jeans with a simple belt, regular fitted shirt.
- Avoid: skirts and dresses, tight jeans, belts and accessories with sharp edges, lace, baggy sleeves
- Find a large open space. If the move involves aerial elements, check that you have overhead clearance. Furthermore, if the lift is above waist height, I recommend a room with a soft floor like carpeting or a gym or studio that has tumble mats.
- Find a friend or two who can be your spotters.
- Describe the move accurately before attempting it. I recommend re-watching videos of it performed a few times beforehand.
- Explain to your spotter where you need them to stand. For example, in the Can Opener, the spotter may stand behind the lead for the first stage, or facing the lead for the second stage.
- I recommend breaking down the move in stages so that you can ensure each step is prepared correctly. For example, in the Can Opener, practice the set up and basket a few times, then add the leg over and check the hand position for the pop. If it’s wrong, you can correct it before moving forward. If you practice it incorrectly and bulldoze through it, it will be hard to break your bad habits. That leads me to the next point…
- You don’t really know the move until you can do it correctly and consistently every time. If you practice and messed up five times in a row, but the sixth time you got it right, your work is not done. Take a break if you need to, but keep it in practice mode until you can nail it every time.
- If you are mentally or physically fatigued, take a break. It’s better to practice a little bit on a regular basis than to power through and injure yourself.
- Treat every new dance partner as if it’s the first time practicing that move. There are variables with each partner to consider such as height, strength, etc. Also, you might each know a version of the move, and that can make a huge difference.
- The point of dancing is to have fun! When it starts to get frustrating, leave it alone for a while, or decide if you want to skip that move altogether. You’re doing this for you, and so it’s up to you to decide what moves you want to do.