What do I do with my arms?!

If there was a top ten list of most popular questions asked to dance teachers, this one would certainly make the list!

Arm styling is at the top of most requested videos we get here at DanceSport Place. And it’s easy to understand why.


Arms & Artistry

We work a lot on what’s happening with the feet, body, connections, etc and often arm styling is the last piece of the dancing puzzle–and usually doesn’t get as much attention as it should!

Plus, using your arms in your dancing is the FIRST STEP to creating artistry through dance. The legs and feet are the workhorses for a dancer, but the arms and face are what tell the STORY.

For dancers who coming from an International Standard background, you’ve already got your lower body under control.
Now, the MAGIC of American Smooth comes from the added dimension of open movements, and the freedom you’ll have with your arms.

Knowing how to USE the arms is like knowing the WORDS to the story. If you don’t know the words, it’s hard to get your point across.

But once you know how to use the words (your arms!), your story can be told BEAUTIFULLY.

So, how do we get started? World & U.S. Professional American Smooth finalist Eulia Baranovsky shows you how:

arm styling positions for american smooth

Arm styling isn’t just about sticking an arm out here or there.
No, in fact, when arm styling is done correctly it not only makes for lovely lines, but even more importantly, it eases movement from one thing to the next.

That’s because arm styling is based on what your body is ALREADY doing!

Think about your favorite dancers: their arms move effortlessly with their steps in a seamless flow. 

Now think about newer dancers: their arms are dangly, ill-timed and often awkwardly placed.

It’s because they simply haven’t yet MASTERED using their arms in harmony with their bodies.

To start, let’s get familiar with the 8 Arm Positions for American Smooth from Eulia.


The 8 Positions

american smooth arm styling 1


1. In front of the body, in front of the pelvis

american smooth arm styling 2

2. In front of the solar plexus

american smooth arm styling 3

3. In front of the forehead

american smooth arm styling 4

4. In front in V-position

american smooth arm styling 5

5. Behind the head in V-position

6-8 position

6. Behind the back

american smooth arm styling 7

7. Behind the derriere

american smooth arm styling 8

8. Down by the sides


Dancing the Arms

These 8 positions are just a starting point for you to build familiarity and flexibility with your arm styling.
To truly bring DANCING into your arms, you’ll need to add these elements to the above positions:

  • Rotation
  • Sway
  • Rise & Fall
  • Dynamics

As you practice these positions themselves, and add in the movement elements above, you’ll find your arm styling start to develop beyond mere positions into DANCING ARMS.
In Eulia’s video on this topic, she teaches you step by step how to incorporate these 8 arm styling positions into the NATURAL movements that happen in your choreography. (learn about our virtual studio here.)


Practice Time

Let’s get practical. You’ve got the 8 positions, but you still need to connect the dots to make your arm styling flow.

Here’s how to practice:

1. Warm up by going through the 8 positions to build your familiarity and flexibility.

2. Pick one of the positions. Twist your body side to side. Do you feel how this movement flows with the natural swing and sway in your dances? Now you’re starting to connect the POSITIONS to the MOVEMENTS.

Try the same exercise with a different position.

3. Choose 2 of the positions, and play with the dynamics.
Ex: move your arms from position 1 to position 4 SLOWLY. Then do it again, QUICKLY. You’re playing with the SPEED of your arm styling. 

Try this exercise again. Now, move from 1 to 4 and imagine you’re lifting a piece of silk…LIGHTLY. Do it again, and imagine someone is pushing your arms down as you lift.  This is playing with the WEIGHT of your arm styling.

Think of how the different affects will change the STORY you’re telling.

Once you’re comfortable with the 8 arm styling positions for American Smooth, AND you’re matching them with the movements that your body is naturally doing, you’re on your way to telling your OWN dancing story.


Want More?

Want to learn from World Class coaches, anytime, anywhere? Check out our virtual dance studio, for more!


More DanceSport Place Videos for American Smooth Arm Styling:


arm styling positions for american smooth