Ballroom dancing is a partnership between leader and follower. Like anything in life, there needs to be good communication between the pair in order for the dance to work.
Leaders, your job is to communicate the patterns of the dance through decisive movements. This starts with maintaining your frame to keep the connection between you and your follower. Imagine you’re holding 3 shoe-boxes, if you loosen your grip, the shoe-box in the middle will fall. Now replace those shoe-boxes with an actual person, same concept. The hand on the follower’s shoulder blade should be cupped and your right elbow should be held up. A strong lead does not have anything to do with physical strength or pressure but instead with having a clear lead for the follower to be able to follow. A leader leads through their body, so take decisive steps, otherwise your follower will feel the indecisiveness and be unsure what to do.
Followers, your role is to be sensitive to the signals of the leader and to respond accordingly. Just like the leader, you also need to maintain a strong frame so that your leader can properly communicate with you through the connection. Think about Barbie, her arms are stationary save for them being moved by an outside force. So follower, you want your arms to essentially be Barbie arms so that you can be receptive to your leaders’ leads. Now the most difficult part, let go, be patient, and trust your partner. What does this mean? Let go of being in charge or trying to backlead, and let your partner lead you. Be patient, wait and react to the lead given, even be a tiny bit delayed because you waited to react to the lead. Finally, trust your partner and let them fully lead. Maybe one time try a blindfold, it will improve your following skills AND improve your partners’ lead because you won’t be able to anticipate what’s next.
A leader is like a speaker, needing to be clear and concise. If a leaders’ signals are equivalent to a presenter without a microphone, only someone with supersonic hearing can determine the message. On the other hand, the follower is meant to be an expert listener, which means not predicting the outcome of a conversation. Sometimes trying to finish someone’s sentence can indicate not listening so instead, take it in, wait and then respond.
Want to learn more about properly communicating with your partner to allow for better leading and following? The studio will be having a special Lead and Follow class on Monday November 13th. Give us a call at the studio for more details!