How to Become a Good Follower on the Dance Floor
To experience a great dance partnership it is just as important to develop following skills as it is to develop leading skills. Therefore the myth: All I need is a good leader and I can follow anything - is only partly true. Only if we have good following skills can the leader dance with power and strength - thus allowing the couple to maintain balance and control and assuring that both partners enjoy the dance.
Frequently you will hear the man (also referred to as the leader) say: Stop trying to lead--just follow. Well that works only if the lady (also known as the follower) knows how and what to follow.
There are two basic aspects to following:
* The How - Developing our Frame and Connection
* The What - Focusing on the difference between intent and movement
Developing Our Frame and Connection - Smooth Dances (Closed Position)
The actual frame (or closed position) is made up of three points of contact - a triangle between the couple:
1. The lady places her right hand in the mans left hand.
2. The man places his right hand on the ladys left shoulder blade
3. The lady places her left hand just below the mans right shoulder.
This triangle has a closed side and an open side. It is important here to point out that the follower should resist falling to the right or open side of the triangle. This can be corrected by becoming aware of keeping our block - (hips ribcage and shoulders - aligned and head over the left wrist.) Also check that your right toe is not turned in.
The connection is a little bit more elusive and complex than building the frame or embrace. First lets discard the notion that we should give the man resistance. Instead the follower should concentrate on holding the elbows slightly in front of the hips and the hands forward and upward at all times. Another really important aspect of the connection is activating the core. (I you have participated in pilates classes you are aware of your core; if not work on strengthening your stomach and sternum so that you are following through your center - thus assisting you in holding your block and arms in one piece.) In the next section intent and movement we will continue to talk about the arms and elbows and suggest a simple exercise.
Focusing on the difference between Intent and Movement
When the leader is preparing to move forward he will first compress his supporting foot downwards. This in turn will begin adding pressure to his upper body thus indicating an intent to move the lady backward. Take note here that this should simply indicate an intent to the lady. This is the critical point where many followers misread the lead. Once they feel this intent - they instantly move. Instead when the lady feels the intent she should stay on her supporting foot and compress towards the man until he commences to move. This is worth repeating. Do not move when you feel the pressure or intent to move; rather stay on the supporting foot and press forward (and upward) and wait for the actual movement.
At this time we will again discuss the ladys core arms and shoulders. When the man is indicating intent many times the follower will collapse the elbows and/or shoulders. ( Remember the followers role is to simply hold her own body forward in one solid piece.) To understand this concept try this simple exercise:
Stand with your feel about 9 from a wall or closed door - weight towards the balls of the feet. Bring your sternum forward (slightly separating your ribcage) and place your hands on the door or wall. Notice you are simply supporting your own body - not really pressing the door. This is how comfortable your body should feel when you are in dance position. Just simply stay forward and support your own weight. It is important to impress upon the follower that this position does not make you feel heavy - but rather gives the leader the leverage to move forward with power and confidence.
These concepts require a little thought and practice; but when you finally understand how and what to follow both you and your partner will enjoy the dance!
For an update on our new releases go to:
Blanche & Emilio Librero have been operating their own successful School in Tampa Florida and producing high quality instructional videos since 1979. They are the creators of the best selling series How to Become a Good Dancer.
Libreros Dance Tip of the Month
Copyright 2010 Libreros Inc.