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Guidelines for Leading and Following

Essentials for Good Leading

Maintain good posture in the upper body. Make sure that the shoulders are relaxed and that there is as long a space as possible between the lower ribs and the hip bones.


Dance on the balls of the feet, with the weight definitely on one foot or the other.


Keep the right arm firm; do not allow it to move independently of the body.
Know a step thoroughly before attempting to lead it, and dance it with assurance.


Know the proper lead indications for each change of positions, direction, or step; give them inconspicuously, but make them strong and definite.
Hold the follower firmly to give her a sense of security; do not restrict her movement.


When leading, always begin dancing with the LEFT FOOT.


As a general rule, make steps directly sideward, forward, or backward--not in between.


Dance in time with the music and in proper relationship to the accented beat.
Know what you intend to do sufficiently far ahead to be able to act with assurance and give the necessary lead indications in advance of the movement.
Except when going backward, move body in desired direction before moving the feet.


Know a variety of steps and rhythms, but when dancing with a strange partner, use only the simple basic steps until you have ascertained her ability to follow.
If a partner is not an apt follower, hold her closer and more firmly than usual. Repeat a step several times before changing steps.


Practice alone often since practice makes perfect.


The three most important essentials to successful leading are: knowledge of the steps and rhythms, correct lead indications and control of their timing.

Essentials for Good Following


The lady "follows" in Social dancing, yet her role is far from mere passivity. She contributes in full measure to the fun of the dance by her instantaneous response to the man's lead. These hints will help make dancing more delightful for you and your partner.

Stand tall, and keep your waist muscles with the left side firm in the man's right hand. On backward steps, don't wait to be pushed, move with your partner instantaneously. Keep hips forward, leaning back slightly with your head and shoulders. Reach backward with a straight leg, not a bent knee. Extend from the small of the back to the end of the toes. Your foot contacts the floor an infinitesimal fraction of a second AFTER the man changes his weight. Step first on the sole of the shoe THEN lower the heel for good timing and balance.
On forward steps move naturally as you would walking down the street. Don't break forward at the hips.

To sharpen your timing in following, concentrate on the use of the palm of your left hand on your partner's shoulder. With this contact as a guide, your body can move instantly with him in any direction. Place left hand flat upon man's right shoulder--well up toward the neck--the thumb in front of the shoulder and the fingers toward the back. The palm of the lady's hand should maintain a firm position on the man's shoulder, as though glued to it with the fingers relaxed. There is an enormous difference between a glued palm and clutching fingers.
Be very sure to support the weight of your own arms. Make curves, not sharp points, of your elbows by holding them upward and slightly inward - shoulders down in back. Dance your slow steps on the whole foot- quick steps on your toes. DON'T be the girl who says, "All I need is a good leader." Instead say, "I CAN FOLLOW ANYONE WHO KNOWS HOW TO DANCE."


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