Salsa > Effects of Dancing with an Excellent Follow

Discussion in 'Salsa' started by aimerrouge, Mar 6, 2005.

  1. aimerrouge

    aimerrouge New Member

    This question is specifically for beginner/intermediate leaders, but all are welcome.

    Is there any benefit to dancing with an excellent follow? In other words, if you're leading someone who can compensate for your less than perfect lead, are you actually learning anything? What do you learn? Yes, it's easier to dance with them, but still...

    Advanced leads tell me the sometimes seek out beginners to dance to practice/hone their leading skills. i.e. make sure they are still actually leading, not going through the motions with someone who already knows.
  2. Salsaonone

    Salsaonone New Member

    You might ask the "excellent" follower to NOT compensate for your mistakes and see what happens.... :shock: :shock:
  3. youngsta

    youngsta Active Member

    The thing about an excellent follower is she responds to the slightest lead, meaning if you lead the wrong thing they will do exactly what you led. They'll probably make the error look like it was intentional, but the lead knows what he was attempting to do. So it definitely helps because it's the ultimate test of our ability to lead.[
  4. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    I agree with this.

    Also, one can then also see how good the followers are. There are certain moves that I did last night with some really good ballroom dancers and right from the start they assumed what move I would be doing. Now their assumptions did not match what I was leading so there was an issue there. And these moves are definitely doable for street latin followers who are of the beginner level, as I have done them quite a bit out in the clubs.
  5. Lockstep

    Lockstep New Member

    also, in far intermediate, i find myself beginning to copy the more complex advanced moves, trying to make the step to advanced, and, well, some of these moves, (especially those involving multiple spins) etc, are simply above beginner follow level, so one kinda needs the advanced follow...

    of course with a beginner follow one would simply focus on simpler moves, which is also useful, but aimed at practicing different sub-skills of salsa i think
  6. genie

    genie New Member

    Dancing with an "excellent follow" will also show you how the follow SHOULD feel to you (i.e., you'll realize that you don't need to give too much push to make her move, etc). This alone will probably help you modify your lead and improve your own dancing.

    A good follow can be lead by a feather between the two of you. A lady doesn't want to feel like she's being herded like cattle, and this oftentimes happens with a new follow (due to her lack of skill) and a lead who doesn't realize that he doesn't need so much effort to guide a lady into moving. Dancing with a new follow may "force" you into "cattle herding" instead of actual dancing, therefore, you wouldn't be learning anything of value since you can't use lead and follow technique.

    My apologies for using "cattle herding" to illustrate this, but I think it's the best description for what I've experienced.
  7. Sabor

    Sabor New Member

    since i adjust to the follow.. any dance would be for my overall benefit wether or not i'm concious of it.
  8. Vin

    Vin New Member

    Excellent followers (if they are comfortable enough with you) will correct you if you lead something incorrectly. Excellent follows will force you to step up your game. If you dance with excellent follows enough you will have to come up with new and interesting ways to keep their attention.

    Advanced dancers will also be able to tell you if you are showing improvement in something specific.

    Advanced follows are also good for when you want to experiment and try something new.
  9. Phil Owl

    Phil Owl Well-Known Member

    It can be a douuble edge sword, on the one hand it's VERY encouraging and inspiring to me and it makes me try that much harder, but once in a while, I need a challenge.
  10. aimerrouge

    aimerrouge New Member

    Thanks for the responses. I'm an intermediate follow and wondered. :D
  11. mexi_gabacho

    mexi_gabacho New Member

    Any dancing helps...

    I think that advanced followers can definitely help the intermediate leader in many ways. Everyone has pretty much pointed out all of the main ones (she does not anticipate moves... she can tell when you are improving in certain areas, etc.). There is one more that I would like to add...


    Dancing with advanced followers can improve the confidence of the leader. This has several positive side-effects... with more confidence, you relax more... when you relax more, you dance smoother.... when you dance smoother, you lead smoother.... when you lead smoother, the follow relaxes..... when the follow relaxes,.. ... ok ok.. you get the point.

    Now, as an added point... I really enjoy dancing with beginning/intermediate dancers because it makes me 'work the lead' more. Also, I really enjoy the look in a beginner/intermediate woman's face when you are leading her smoothly and she gives you 'the look'. :eek: The look that says 'wow... I'm dancing and not just stepping around'. It's like you opened their eyes... and they appreciate it ALOT. I have made alot of friends this way. I teach beginner/intermediate from time-to-time and it is always fun to watch people slowly get hooked. :D
  12. Phil Owl

    Phil Owl Well-Known Member

    Re: Any dancing helps...

    Soo true! I've had several occasions where I've danced with competition level women and didn't even know it until they told me afterwards, probably a good thing :wink:
  13. azzey

    azzey Member

    There's a difference between good followers of any level and advanced dancers.

    Good followers, as has been said, don't predict the lead so they go where you put them, including the mistakes you make when you lead.

    They would be smooth and require very little pressure to move, stop them and change their direction, while still maintaining a constant soft connection through their hands, arms and whichever body parts you connect with. ;)

    They also know their basic steps well and don't stop dancing suddenly, hesitate or go out of sync with your timing. The latter would create a time-distortion or yo-yo effect where your lead is followed several beats late every time, you would compensate, she would then respond to your compensation too-late again and it would be like trying to dance with someone at the other end of a rocking boat by jumping up and down.

    They keep with your timing, not try to dance on 2, when you dance on 1. or vice-versa.

    This is different to a good dancer. A good dancer knows how to move well on her own. She has her own steps and can make things up on the fly when you're not leading her. So if you suddenly miss a lead or don't lead a move, she'll carry on and fill in with something of her own. She may also have good styling and body movement.

    Now truely advanced dancers can do both well.

    More soon..
  14. azzey

    azzey Member

    A good follow also feels light, you don't get exhausted leading her or have to constantly hold her back like a bucking horse before you lead her into a new move.

    Then there's the moves you lead her into using the basic steps she knows well, how you put them together into sequences and which lead suggests what kind of moves might be coming up. This is something that is acquired with time. However to remain a good follower she has to suspend this knowledge and become 'blank' in order not to predict the next move. A hard task to balance the not-knowing but can-do ability.

    OK, so most female dancers are a mix of these regardless of apparent level. Some have good connection, but don't know the basic steps well. Others are great dancers and good followers, however their connection is not as good as it could be. The higher up the scale you go the more likely they are to have more of these attributes.

    So, what can you learn from dancing with these partners?

    Everything and nothing. To truely dance well with any partner you have to adjust to them. Be aware of their capabilities, compensate for their lacks as they compensate for yours. Form a truely symbiotic relationship for those 4 minutes on the dance floor.

    Part of leading well is to communicate your expectations to her unambiguously, subtly, with precision and finesse. Smoothy narrowing her choices to a single option without force or duress. Less of an invitation and more like you are the road, the signs, the traffic lights, the trees on either side of the road and she is the car. You are also the driver.

    Become aware of how your partner responds to your every move, but be confident and smooth in your direction as if it was fated to be this way. The song made you dance this way and you and her were just two actors in the musical playing your part.

    With every dancer regardless of level you have in you the ability to learn something, if you listen. But don't stop truely dancing with your partner or all you'll have learnt is how not to dance.
  15. azzey

    azzey Member

    <Azzey gets out his leather whip and electric cattle prod> Kinky salsa anyone?
  16. Paou

    Paou New Member

    Our ladies are now being described as 'cars' or 'cattle', how romantic - :D

    I feel that dancing with an inexperienced follow is probably more 'use' in terms of improving your lead, than dancing with a good one.

    I dance with everyone I can, and many of the things I do to help 'control' the more inexperience follows have helped improve my leading with experienced followers too.

    Subtle nuances that although aren't quite as er...'firmly'....or I would imagine, sometimes not even consiously delivered to more advanced followers - they still give her little extra bits of important information .

    I guess that any extra 'conversation' through the lead is a good thing provided it's clear, unobtrusive, and accurate WRT what you're about to do.
  17. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    Dancing with an experienced follow it is common that one must adapt to her style of dancing. Dancing with an inexperienced follow it is easier to get her to use the dancing style that you like the best.
  18. Kindra

    Kindra New Member

    I think there is alot to be learned when dancing with someone who is a more advanced dancer....especially when it comes to timing and styling.

    When I dance with beginner leads I really try to limit TOO much styling (unless I'm let go for a shine!) and concentrate on making my timing and footwork precise and clear. Because ultimately...styling (IMHO) should be a continuation and reflection of timing and footwork.
    Anytime the lead is unclear or the timing is off...I'll say.. "Let's try that again!".. while smiling alot :). And I'll usually ask them to lead me through it a couple of times...then I take the opportunity to assist in the timing, etc.
    I've gotten into the habit of asking leaders (especially those who are more advanced than me) to repeat leads I've missed, or leads we weren't very connected on. How else are we gonna learn to dance with each other???

    Any suggestions you can offer experienced follows to HELP new leads out on the dance floor, to make the experience more enjoyable for them, while supporting their growth as a leader and dancer???
  19. tj

    tj New Member

    The "smiling a lot" part is key. :wink:
  20. HF

    HF New Member

    Hmm ... interesting. I will have to think about that.

    Is it just me or does anybody else sometimes feel uncomfortable with those ladies that are "really really good dancers" in terms that they have been dancing for years and have been to many workshops and festivals?

    I will try to explain: I am an intermediate salsa dancer still but most ladies, even advanced, say that they enjoy my lead. I try to lead according to the music as much as I can and if I feel that a lady wants to be entertained I can dance two or three songs without any repetition. Also sometimes I "fake" moves to make the ladies laugh. All that works up to a certain level.

    But there are few ladies that are hard to please. They have been dancing with the best of the best. This has been their fix and and this is what they want now for the rest of their life. And when little me dances with them they will look a little bit bored because they know every trick I know - and many more.

    One lady that I know is an excellent dancer and has been giving workshops herself. But she will do a lot of arm styling which will make it difficult to lead her. Also she will love to dance open shines to more extensively express herself. It feels as if basically she does her thing, no matter what I do and does not really seem interested in partnering.

    Another lady, also excellent, will sometimes even not follow my lead intentionally.

    One more lady I know will look very concentrated and correct me during the song or immediately after the end. She will never smile or anyhow give the impression to me that she is enjoying anything I do.

    After one song those three will say "thank you" and go back to their place. And some will keep standing there for a long time, dancing by themselves, because there will not be many guys that feel prepared ...

    In consequence I hardly ever ask them for a dance. Not such a problem to me because usually I can dance for hours with other ladies. But still ...

    Am I the only one that experienced that?

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