In the Leader’s role article, I discussed the main responsibilities that men have to pay attention to. In this article I will talk about the lady’s role. I will present the main things every woman is responsible for on the dance floor. This will hopefully instill the right mind-set about what it means to follow your partner.
Just as I have mentioned in the men’s article, many men think that they have to do all the work when it comes to social dancing. Well, many women tend to think so also. But this is simply FALSE!
Often times I hear the all the ladies complain about how bad their partners lead them and that if only they had a decent leader, they would enjoy themselves much more. They hardly ever point the finger at themselves. Could there be something you are not doing that you should?
Let me give you 3 main things every follower needs to pay attention to:
1. Connect your weight forward to your partner.
2. You must dance all your steps by yourself.
3. Go with the flow and don’t resist.
1. Connect your weight forward to your partner
The first point is a technical one and a very important one. If you want to feel what your leader is going to do, you need to make sure that you establish a forward connection to him through your arms. Why? Because if you don’t have any connection to your partner, no matter how good he leads you, you will not be able feel it. Your partner must feel your weight so he can direct you properly. How do we do this? Make sure that you have tone in your body by stretching up vertically and engaging your “Center”. You can view “how to connect your partner” dance lesson for better understanding of this. From this stretching, extend your arms forward toward your partner and make sure that your elbows stay in front of your body at all times. Lastly, apply some pressure through your arms to connect to him. Doing this will allow you to feel your partner’s lead instantly and follow him better.
2. You must dance and know all your steps by yourself
One of the biggest myths is that the ladies think the guy has to lead their every step. But this is not true. Once the guy changed your direction or timing, you need to dance the rest of the steps by yourself. This also leads me into another point, the followers need to learn/know all their own steps, just as the leaders do. For example, when your partner raises his arm up to signal an underarm turn, your job is then to complete that 2-3 step turn by yourself. Don’t expect your partner to push and pull you around for each step. Pushing and pulling can make the dancing feel very physical and heavy. You should view yourself as a strong independent woman who can do all the steps by herself. The guy just gives you a signal, but then you finish it off with your own flare and styling. Another example is let’s say your partner leads you beautifully into a crossover break in Cha Cha, you can bet yourself that there is going to be more than one of them (usually people do 3-5 of them). Again, your partner doesn’t need to lead each one of these crossover breaks. So go ahead and dance the rest of the crossover breaks by yourself until your partner indicates an ending or a new transition.
3. Go with the flow and don’t resist
This one is both a techical and a mind-step point. I can’t tell you how many times I start to lead someone to turn left only to have her struggling to go right… Or sometimes, I will be doing a basic pattern only to witness the lady trying to do some weird turn out of the blue that I didn’t lead. This just makes the dancing experience rough and unpleasant. It is the man’s job to initiate the moves, so let him! Even when you do complete that turn that you led on your own, it hardly ever comes out nice and smooth because the guy didn’t even have his arm raised. And you could get injured this way. So stop trying to lead and focus on following. What you need to do instead is have a razor sharp focus on what direction your partner wants you to go. And you need to be able to react as fast as possible. In other words,you don’t want to initiate moves but you want to follow them as fast as possible when they are given.
Written by Leon Turetsky