Sharing The Joy Of Dancing

CHARACTERISTICS OF LEAD AND FOLLOW


One of the most elusive concepts of Ballroom Dancing seems to be Lead and Follow. The most important element in lead and follow is the dance frame. The dance frame is taught as follows:

The lady's body is lined up offset to the right of the man's body. The frame has a soft toned feeling, not frozen and hard. The man's left hand index finger is at the eye level of the woman. The thumb is vertical and the four fingers gently wrap the lady's hand. The lady's right hand hooks her four fingers over the man's index finger and hand and her thumb matches the man's vertical thumb position.

The top of the man's right forearm (somewhere between his wrist and his elbow) makes contact with the muscle on the bottom of the lady's upper arm as close to the lady's body as possible. The man's fingers of his right hand close to touch the lady's clothing but not her body. There is no sideways pressure by the man's right hand because side pressure interferes with the lady's balance. The man has a slight upwards pressure with his right forearm. The lady's left hand middle finger and thumb fits into the grove of where the man's bicep and shoulder muscle comes together. The lady must not lean on the man's right arm with her elbow. Both partners must hold up their own arms. The elbows of both partners must never get behind their bodies.

The Smooth Frame (Foxtrot, Waltz, Tango, etc.) has a very wide feeling at the elbows and the Latin Frame (Rumba, Cha Cha, Samba, etc.) has a compact forward feeling from the elbows.

The dance frame connection allows the man and woman to become a single four-legged entity (four legged animal). The frame connection should be as light a possible, but strong enough to be able to feel your partners body. Your arms and hands do not move separately but only as a result of body movement. Even though the frame touches the partner's physically at about shoulder level, the connection to your partner is from your center of gravity (about 2 inches below your belly button).

The man "leads" (initiates) and the lady "follows" (responds). The lady dances only "ONE" step at a time, the one she can feel. Partnership dancing is "NOT" two people dancing patterns facing each other.

The man leads by:

  1. Maintaining a good frame
  2. Having "clean" weight changes (weight is never on both feet at the same time). This allows the lady to "feel" what foot she should be on.
  3. Moving through his center of gravity, not by pushing or shoving with his hands and arms. (The mans right hand is "NEVER" on the lady's rib cage. This causes side pressure on the lady interfering with her balance.)
  4. The man turns "ONLY" with his body. The hands and arms follow because of the frame. If you use your hands and arms separate from your body the lady cannot follow gracefully.

The bottom line is that the man dances the lady's every footstep and the lady feels what to do, step by step. Ladies should not apologize for not being able to follow. The lady can dance only as well as the man leads. 98% of a lady's wrong response to the man is because of a poor lead or no lead.

I hope this will give you a little insight into what lead and follow is all about.