Leader and Follower Tips and Techniques
Some Pointers on Leading And Following
In class we learn not only how to do the steps but how to lead and follow as well. Leading and following is the soul of dancing. Here are some additional tips to help you along.
For Leaders and Followers
- Do not clench your partner’s hand, arm, or shoulder in a grip of death–a very light hold will suffice. We will lead turns with fingertip or palm contact. Execute push motions with your palm or fingers, and execute pull motions with hooked fingers. Leaders: if you need to pull your partner’s hand toward you, just hook a few of your fingers into the curled fingers of her hand. Followers: while dancing keep your hands accessible at the last placed position.
- Leaders, be careful with using thumb pressure on the back of your lady’s hand, it can leave a bruise.
- Dance with your body, projecting from your one-point, not from your feet or your arms.
- Leaders: Hold your partner with your hand flat, L-shaped, or– if holding a bony body part like a shoulder blade or hipbone–very gently curved. Keep your fingers together, and do not poke your partner or dig your fingers into your partner’s back or side.
- Since you will always find your feet at the bottom of your legs, you are unlikely to learn anything useful by looking down. Instead, watch your partner. This is especially important for followers, since some leads have visual components.
- Maintain good frame. Your arms should be neither rigid nor limp–they are springs. Gently use the muscles in your arms to communicate tension and compression as needed. Pushing or pulling hard can make you feel uncomfortably heavy to your partner and will result in breaking frame. Ladies please no puppy-dog hands and spaghetti arms.
- When dancing socially, accommodate your partner. If your partner loses balance, arrives somewhere unexpected, or winds up on the wrong foot, do your best to complete the figure gracefully by adapting to your partner’s actions. Sometimes this means gently bringing your partner back into place; at other times, you should travel to catch up to your partner.
- Remember that the goal in social dancing is to make your partner happy and have fun, and act accordingly.
- Lead by moving your body and by gently signaling turns with palm or fingertip contact.
- Do not push your lady through a turn.
- In closed frame, gently cup your right hand on the bottom or middle of her left shoulder blade. Don’t press your fingers into her back!
- At the start of the dance, shift your weight right to put your ladies weight over her appropriate foot. Since we start the two-step with your left foot and the ladies right, shift your weight over your right foot, leaving the starting feet free to move. Your connection with your partner will shift her weight over her left foot … there is no need to move her, she will sense even your slightest weight shift, I promise!
- Follow the leader’s weight changes, these communicate his timing. When dancing socially, it does not matter if the leader is out of sync with the music so long as you follow his timing as conveyed by his motions … the two of you will still look good to onlookers.
- Wait for the leader to move before you do. The lead and follow will break down if you get ahead of him (backleading.) Followers: No motion … no follow.
- You are self-propelled and can move and turn yourself. The leader indicates where you are to go, but he does not put you there.
- Support your own weight at all times–your partner is not a leaning post! Your left arm should not lean on his. If he removes his right arm, your left arm should remain in place.