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 follower 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 the ladies complain about how bad their partners lead them and that if only they had a decent leader, they would be able to dance much better. 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 know 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 know your own steps
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. 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 a Rumba underarm turn, your job is then to complete that turn on your own. Don’t expect your partner to push and pull you around for each single step – His job is only to indicate… Not to do it for you! 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. This leads into another point – you must also keep your own timing with the music.
3. Go with the flow and don’t resist
This one is both a technical and a mind-step point. I can’t tell you how many times I start to lead someone to turn left only to have my partner 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
Carna Zacharias-Miller says
I hear my instructor talking…He always says: “Frame!” (which is your first point), “You have to move your own breakfast!” (which is your second point), and “Don’t anticipate!” (which is your third point.)
wish I could do multilple spins or turns without getting dizzy , Once that happens Im done following – and balance becomes an issue. How does one either learn this ? or practice when all I do is get dizzy? Makes for a short practice session. HELP – this one point hinders my ability to improve. Other than that – Im a pretty good dancer.
Leon Turetsky says
Turns and spins take time to master. We have some videos that explain underarm turns. In general, you need to practice spotting when you turn and you need to learn how to use your “center” and keep your core in for your spins…that will help your spins the most.
I need a dance partner,not enough men go dancing where I go on Sat nights,only a few extra men there,I hate to pay to get in then don’t get to dance,wake up men,go dancing,o k ? Thanks.
One’s partner leads ‘well’, not ‘good’.
Also ‘badly’, not ‘bad’.
Still, very good points. Not easy to do when you are both learning together.
That was very informative. Especially the myth buster- that the guy has to lead every step!
Judith, this dance instructor probably speaks more languages than you do, but his expertise is dance instruction, not English grammar. So be gentle and respectful of his advice and don’t worry too much about the grammar; he’s teaching dancing, not English.
SEEMS BALLROOM AND ALL THOSE DANCES ARE NOT EASY TO LEARN.. LET US PURCHASE THOSE DISCS- IN ORDER TO LEARN FSTER
I feel a good follower can send messages to me (by pressing against the lead), that a) she understands the lead just given and is going to execute it now, and b) that she’s still listening (for the lead), in case (or because she is expecting) another lead while she’s executing the one she’s on. My point is that not all communication goes from the lead to the follow, and it’s really nice to have the follow communicate back.
Good afternoon, it is quite clear that you are filling in the gaps that I find don’t always arise in the some of the workshops. Brilliant! Kind regards Chris.