Listen to your partner. That means the good and the bad. So often new dancers go into critique overload and overlook everything they’re doing right. Yes, you should listen if your partner says you’re knocking her off her balance or stepping on her toes. But you should also make a mental note of the things you’re doing right. For one, it will help you realize your progress and feel much better about learning. And also, it will confirm the things that you need to keep doing. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
Learn the follower’s steps. One sure way to get better at leading is to know where you’re asking your partner to step. Better yet, to know what it feels like to be lead to step in that direction. Knowing is half the battle, and having a good idea of what you’re asking someone to do makes leading a whole lot easier. A great way to understand your partner’s part is in group class. Generally both the lead and follow is taught to a certain step. Try to participate with both parts. Or if you get confused doing both parts try going to a class a level or two below your dancing.
Lead with your whole body. The biggest and most common mistake in leading is being indecisive or apprehensive in your movement. If you want to lead effortlessly you have to go all in. You have to fully commit to the foot and the movement. Otherwise your partner will be guessing where you want them to go and most likely not where you were intending. Leaders are often afraid to be pushy or aggressive with their leading. There is a big difference between being assertive and being aggressive. Being confident in your movement requires a decent understanding of where you’re trying to go. So if you don’t know, ask, that’s what you’re here for right! If you still struggle go back to step #2 and learn her part.
Plan ahead. Floorcraft is a tricky thing to master. When you first start taking dance lessons you will be learning where to put your feet, where to put your partner, and trying to put different steps together to make it around the floor. It’s a lot to have to think about. It’s always good to practice your basics until they’re auto pilot. If the traffic pattern changes you’ll need to be able to switch gears quickly. Have a step or two in your back pocket to stop your progression or change direction. Like a twinkle or a left turning ad lib. And then practice your social dancing every chance you get.
Balance is key. While you want to make sure your partner is not using you to hold themselves up, you do want to check that you are stable on your own two feet. Check your posture, is your spine in alignment? Check from the front and side, shift your weight and make sure your body is in alignment over the foot. A great way to build good habits is by practicing alone. Take the new step you just learned in group class, and dance it by yourself until you feel fluid in the movement and aware of which foot your weight is on. Then when you return to dancing with another person you will be more stable and confident in your movement.