Trust A Leader Who Can Lead (Part I)

In ballroom dancing there is a saying which goes “1+1=1”. It is very important that a couple be seen as dancing as one individual, rather than two people who just happen to be dancing together. More simply put, this is synchronization. The follower must allow themselves to be lead and the leader must have good clear signals to lead. Each person has a clear role to achieve the best outcome.
Learning to allow your partner to lead is not easy, it takes a lot of sensitivity, especially if you are in a beginner’s class and the leader isn’t giving you clear signals (we’ll address this in a separate post).
Here are a few tips for the follower beginner dancers:

Clear Your Mind
Try to avoid running a narrative in your head of everything you’re doing wrong.
Instead, just be open and receptive. Focus on the signals you perceive from your partner. Be attentive to his body movements, the pressure he places on your hand or on your back, the visual clues like the tilting of his head. Clearing your mind and reading your partner’s signals are the secrets to following. So relax and enjoy yourself.

Accept To Let Go
Trusting your partner means relinquishing control and accepting to wait for the signals.
If you are a dancer used to dancing solo most of your life, learning to follow can be tough.
When you go social dancing, you will be dancing with partners who haven’t learned the same routines as you, they may put the steps together in a completely different order. That’s why it’s important to get used to following right from the start, even when you know the routine.

Try to rely on yourself for balance rather than your partner.
Dance is an art form, and we want to look good. We want to paint an attractive picture, even a masterpiece. Don’t be afraid to ask your instructor for guidance on improving your posture. You’ll be surprised at how grounded and confident you will feel with improved posture because you will not need to clutch your partner and risk pulling each other off balance.

Lightly hold his hand
It is very difficult to lead when you squeeze your partner’s hand. The more you squeeze, the harder it is for your leader to lead you properly. Try completing a turn while squeezing. You will find it difficult. Its not good for anyone, besides, it hurts!

Anticipation is not your friend
If you’ve taken dancing classes for a while and have been practicing with the same partners, you’re confident with a set of routines so you’re tempted to go on auto-pilot at the first familiar signal you recognize – resist this urge. It will be unsettling to your partner who just lost control of the lead. The leader may have intended to do a variation, or you may be dancing with a new partner whose lead is new to you. Even if you realize that your leader partner made a mistake, go with the flow and don’t actively resist the lead. This will only cause confusion and make it harder for the leader to rectify the situation. Try to be in the present moment. Remember that the time it takes for you to anticipate the next moment that moment is gone.

Dancing is art and conversation, but don’t forget the most important part ENJOY DANCING :-)

Stay tuned for part 2 coming next month

Dance Passion Team