Sharing The Joy Of Dancing


I don't teach anything that isn't leadable in one form or another. The lead and follow concept allows the creation of the two-headed four-legged animal. This is the true oneness on the dance floor that we all are striving to achieve.

About six months ago, I asked one of my female students: "What does lead and follow mean?" Her reply was: "The man does something, then I do something". I suddenly realized that the words "lead and follow" don't work. I also used the words "action and reaction". These words don't work either. The strict interpretation of these phrases causes the ladies movement to be too late.

The ladies action should: "add to the lead", "enhance the lead", "embellish the lead", "power the lead". If the lady waits for the lead to finish, then react; the dancers may as well be dancing freestyle. The lead should not be over before the lady participates.

The reality of leading is that the man initiates the action, the lady continues the action and the man ends the action.

If you were driving a car:

  1. The leader would step on the accelerator to initiate the movement.
  2. The lady supplies the power with the engine while the leader uses the steering wheel to control the direction.
  3. Then the leader steps on the break pedal to end the movement.

What I am describing is a very high level of leading that is dependent on many other aspects of partnership dancing. The following are very important:

  1. The partnership frame offset.
  2. The head positions are always 180 degrees apart.
  3. A solid yet flexible frame with a continuous forward connection by both sides.
  4. The arms composing the frame are part of the body and do not move independent of the body.
  5. The supporting leg has 98% of the weight and the free leg has 2% of the weight. Bottom line, have four feet on the floor all of the time.
  6. Movement is always initiated from the supporting leg.
  7. The power is always in reference to the center of the partnership.
  8. The person moving forward supplies most of the power.
  9. The partners leverage off each other for power and control.
  10. The lady does not move to a spot, the lady continues moving (as if there is no end) until the lead concludes the movement.
  11. The man cannot lead all the way to the end of the movement. The lead is "ON' only for about three-fourths of the movement. The last one-fourth is used to control the conclusion of the movement.
  12. The flexibility in the leaders torso (not his arms) is what stops the ladies movement softly and gracefully.
  13. The correct shape must be used for the specific element danced.
  14. The leader needs to understand what he is trying to get the lady to do. (He must know the ladies part.)
  15. The leader dances patterns because he has to plan ahead.
  16. The lady dances one step at a time (what she feels).

"The movement" I am talking about above, is a pattern element (usually a measure of music). For example in Waltz, a forward hover would be an element in the pattern: triple hover combination.

Words are very powerful in the art of teaching. It is vital for the instructor to use the correct words in order to get the right body response. However, I have had students in the past where I had to use words that were absolutely wrong to get the right body response. I would then have to go back later when they had some muscle memory and correct the words.

The way you think about something will change how your body responds. I have had great success by changing "lead and follow" to "lead and add to the lead".