General Dance Discussion > Feel of a lead vs variety. Sensitive follows vs those who need more.

Discussion in 'General Dance Discussion' started by Mysticle31, Aug 10, 2012.

  1. Mysticle31

    Mysticle31 New Member

    I'm a newer leader wondering some things on a base "how dance works" level.

    Instructor A: She is very sensitive. She can tell me what feels good and what doesn't. While everyone to some extent can do that she is good. If I want to iron out a pattern to make it feel just delightful. I talk to her. She cant always tell you why, she isn't real technical like I am, but shes a great feeler. I hope that makes sense.

    Instructor B: Another instructor at my studio is much more experienced but isn't as keen on things feeling just so. I can lead a pattern, even lead it poorly, it it will still "work". She's much more intuitive, more technical.

    I can take a working pattern that I dance with partners all the time and dance it with Instructor A (the feeling one) and it wont work. She'll tear it all up to make it feel just so. That's good. I LIKE that. BUT. I want to progress as a dancer. Do I want to iron all the patterns out with her? Just because a pattern works X ways with her doesn't mean it will be the same with everyone else. Does what I lead feel THAT bad? It works, follows still smile and dance with me. (obviously I know you cant really answer that on the internet)

    I can dance with Instructor B and pull out some things I'm working on and she will tell me if it feels BAD, but not to the same level as instructor A. The pattern still works. She has much more loose tolerance for "error" in the pattern, so to speak.

    Then there are ladies who require more "force" that what I like to give and I cant dance well with at all.

    What is the balance between a patterns feel between partners, getting to newer more advanced material, social dancing and fun?

    Does any of this make sense? I'm still trying to make sense of it myself.
  2. Partner Dancer

    Partner Dancer Well-Known Member

    IMHO, there's no point in over-thinking the issue. While there're
    probably as many opinions about dance connection/communication
    as there are instructors, I subscribe to the belief/school that's it's
    really a "personal" matter, much like carrying on verbal
    conversation another person in various settings. Sometimes the
    communication flows and sometimes it stutters or falls flat.
    Sometimes whispers work and sometimes shouting is required.
    Sometimes one or both parties need to make more effort and
    sometimes it's effortless.

    Common background and familiarity go a long way, regardless
    of technique or physics. Oftentimes, what dance instructors
    teach as "technique" is really more "convention" than good
    physics/kinesthetic. As one dances with more and more
    partners, doing different dances/moves/actions, one will
    naturally compile a statistical database of what works and
    what doesn't under various conditions.

    It's also a matter of one's goals. Some dancers prefer to
    dance with few partners and some desire to be able to dance
    with anyone. Some dancers only want to do a few dances or
    do a small number of patterns well while others are voracious
    about variety. Some dancers are more into look and some
    more into feel.

    Just keep at it, and your personal preferences will develop
  3. GGinrhinestones

    GGinrhinestones Well-Known Member

    I'm not a leader, but it all makes sense to me - what you are asking is a very common question.

    I agree with Partner Dancer - don't overthink it. Dancing really is communication, an there is never one right answer or one right way to do things that works with every partner.

    Based on what you said above, it sounds like you are on a good path either way. If the majority of follows are able to follow you - without the deconstruction Instructor A is giving you - then you are probably doing just fine. Keep working with both of them, and you'll eventually figure it out.

    As for having some ladies who require more "force" than you give...well, you'll always get those, too. Some of it may be that your lead is not strong or clear enough, but some of it is also that some ladies get used to being dragged or placed around the floor. Could be either one (or both), so keep working on your lead, but don't let that translate into pushing and pulling or all those "sensitive" follows will start getting cranky. ;)
  4. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    I am going to keep this simple...a few things to remember;

    a) yes, there will be alot of women with whom you may dance socially, who will not recognize your lead or your lead may not be correct or sufficient and therefore you may find yourself tempted to inject more on a turn when she really doesn't know how to do one well or when you led it late...
    b) as to instructor preference, if my goals were to be effective in a social venue, the language I would be using with any instructor about my priorities would be to have her attention be on whether or not my lead was on time and unambiguious...she may be breaking the pattern down because in your execution of it, if your frame is attached to your body, your lead will feel better simply by executing the pattern more sounds to me like you need more clarity as to why each woman is taking various approaches...and it seems logical to ask...there probably is no real wrong choice right now, because you haven't been dancing long enough to truly evaluate and assess instruction is a messy and time-consuming business, which requires patience and a surrendering of a certain amount of control, because it take a long time to have enough information to feel in good command across the short, continue to explore the styles of both until you have more clarity about which modality works best for you
  5. bia

    bia Well-Known Member

    As far as just this point -- I'd say that being able to make the steps "feel just so" is significant progress as a dancer. Quality dancing is much more about how the steps are danced than about which or how many steps are danced, and followers love a comfortable lead. Hopefully, you'll eventually be able to carry these corrections to different steps without her having to pick each one apart individually. That said, it's perfectly understandable for you and your social partners to enjoy having a variety of steps to dance. I'd say that it's less a question of either-or and more a question of when. You can learn lots of steps well enough to get through them and then later go back and improve their feel, or you can work on getting them just so from the beginning (and still probably go back to them again later; improving basics is never-ending. But you'd be starting from a higher quality point the next time around). They're really just two different paths to the same place.
  6. nucat78

    nucat78 Active Member

    You'd do well to resist the temptation, lest you possibly get labeled as a "bully" and subsequently avoided by the better follows. I've seen it multiple times - new lead or a lead new to a particular dance tries to power his way through and winds up making the better follows quite uncomfortable, who then either avoid the guy or complain about him.

    Moderation in all things, except mojitos.
  7. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Hi Mysticle31

    Comparing your dancing with A and with B really makes sense. It clearly shows that you´ve got kind of a logical approach. So perhaps in seven years you´ll be an instructor, too?

    first advice: A and B are´nt enough. Try to dance frequently with L, M, and S. Don´t mind that you only are a beginner: there are so many reasons to dance with an unexperienced leader besides teaching and practicing.

    second advice: leading isn´t dragging and being dragged. Leading is a language with an elaborate grammar. Before you start moving yourself the follower always should already have received all the information about the leg, the pace width, speed, weight changes and vertical follow up. That works not by magic but by a technique called projecting or projection. You start preparing your move and simultaneously you reach out into your dance partner´s legs to control her next step. Her body is your extended phenotype. But note that I am talking of isolated moves/steps/elements, not of sequences. Every element of a sequence can be lead in isolation. This assumed beforehand it will be pretty clear now that dancing wit B makes more sense. A keeps on thinking, projecting and empathizing herself. B simply stands by and lets you do the projection.

    third advice: I dont know which kind of dances or styles you actually are practicing. But it does not matter anyway. The projection works with any style. So I would recommend to practice leading in open hold (f.i. salsa, swing), in BR-frame, in international latin hold, in tight hold (club and street dances), as well as without grasping/touching at all. It makes a pretty good exercise to stand opposed and to lead without contact only by preparing and projecting.

    fourth advice: It sounds as if you started taking lessons prior to dancing en-pista socially. Try to do it the other way round. It must not be that perfect, just move to the music, try to optimized your projecting technique with totally unknown people, and of course ask for a feedback.

  8. davedove

    davedove Well-Known Member

    Mysticle, I think you're finding that there is a line between being clear on your lead and being a bully. Unfortunately, there are many different follows out there with many levels of sensitivity and experience, so the line between the two is not really a fine one. Rather it is a fairly broad line based on which follow you happen to be dancing with. As has been said, dance with many different follows and consider the input from each of them.
  9. toothlesstiger

    toothlesstiger Well-Known Member

    Lead and follow is a conversation. Sometimes your follower seems to understance every nuance you intend. Sometimes you have to use small words spoken slowly at high volume.
    A good leader learns how to adjust his lead to his follower. There is not one perfect way to lead for all followers. When dancing with DW, occasionally I get too light for her. (She tells me.) Some followers I'm pretty much just about placing their feet for them. There isn't one size that fits all.

    The same goes the other way, of course, followers need to adjust to different leads.

    If you dance with lots of followers, constantly adjusting your lead, you will find out what works in different circumstances.
  10. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    except of course that better follows are also few and far between and I feel for newer leads who also have grown accustoned to having to use a strong arm and then get labelled that way for not realizing when they don't need it...but I do totally agree, if a guy starts throwing me around, I am not at all inclined to want to do more with him
  11. GGinrhinestones

    GGinrhinestones Well-Known Member

    I wonder how experienced each of these instructors are? I've been thinking about this statement, and of course it IS next to impossible to tell from what you've said here, but this statement leads me to think one of two things: either Instructor A is very good and is holding you to a very high standard, or Instructor A is not as good as you think since the patterns you are leading works with your other instructor and other follows, but not with her - either she is refusing to follow or unable to follow, which does not bode well for an instructor and may cause you problems with other dancers down the road. Unfortunately, if you are just starting out dancing, you may not have the experience yet to know which way she is leading you (pun intended.)
  12. Mysticle31

    Mysticle31 New Member

    Wow, there is some VERY thought provoking stuff here.

    Part of the reason I like partner dancing is the tenique, the way each dance feels different. The way I can dance with another human being and "make" "influence" "lead" her to do a thing, wonderful. Alot of these dances I think convention becomes convention because it works. What leads a lady to swivel in rumba just by switching handhold and running my ribs back and forth. That's a convention. She knows if I feel X I do Y. But sometimes leads body are a little more direct. I can lead things 2 ways. In unison with her, she mirrors me or in opposition, she does the opposite. Like foxtrot grapevines vs hustle grapevines. THATS cool. Maybe I'm just nuts.

    I love this. I had to read it a couple times.

    How did you know that from just a couple paragraphs :p. I feel like, I have pattern and book knowledge to make the dance interesting instead of "here is 50 boxes in a row". And I'm listening to and developing musicality. But my general dancing fell behind. It all works together. Now I am coming close to understanding that a well executed box or crossover break is more fun to a follow than poorly done Aiedas (how do you spell that)

    Oh Yeah.:cool:

    Iv'e thought about that. I could see that being very true outside of her little field of knowledge. But she's been around awhile. Sadly, sometimes that happens even on the social floor outside of class. I've seen her dance with a high level lead (he likes smooth) and have no issues. It could perhaps also just be the dynamic we created.

    Just tonight I was at a dance in the corner working on technique and timing and arms for various dances that came up. I kind of got lost in my own little world by myself. It was a slow night at the studio. I danced a nice WCS with a lady who I would consider a solid mid level follow. Higher than me. I have to remember things like giving her the slot and making the slot clear, but I couldn't try some things because I would never get an extension connection on my anchor. Me, Her, Both? I don't know. But I'd often have to anchor, anchor, anchor just to get things feeling good again. For me, if it starts feeling poor, the middle is poor, and it dissolves from there. She had some cool tricks up her sleeve though for anchor variations and hits that I han't seen before.

    Yes, I overanalyze EVERYTHING. It's a need to understand fully.
  13. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    Yes. I think I've said it before, but some follows can hear and respond to a whisper of a lead, and some follows need, well, to be shouted at. :)
  14. Partner Dancer

    Partner Dancer Well-Known Member

    But would one consider it proper decorum, or even common
    decency, to shout at someone he/she casually knows with whom
    one is conversing at a social setting just because the other party
    doesn't get what one is saying (assuming no loud background
    noise, etc.). Most people just change the subject to something
    more "agreeable" to both, since it's impossible to determine
    the cause of the "miscommunication," which may be in the
    speaker's presentation, the listener's reception/interpretation,
    or just a disconnect due to different background and frames
    of perception.
  15. Mysticle31

    Mysticle31 New Member

    Tonight I watched a male lead, who obviously been around awhile, dance a WCS with a newbie follower. He was bustin' out ragdolls, other dips and tricks that I've never seen before, things from blues..etc. I talked with him and learned he learned it at blues. To have a lead "good" or "forceful" (I'm not thinking throwing her around) or "precise" enough to do some of that is outside of my comprehension right now.

    On her side, what did she feel? I don't know. Did she enjoy it or was she confused beyond all belief at this nutjob tossing her around? Was it a fun ride to music like Disney Word dancing? Who knows.

    I know when I dance with a newer follow who doesn't know WCS, I don't always have the opportunity/ability to get the connection right. Instead of starting taking a step back then the 3 and 4, 5 and 6 it devolves into step forward triple step, step back triple step. Then I just say screw it and go to Cha Cha or maybe Hustle.
  16. toothlesstiger

    toothlesstiger Well-Known Member

    Sounds like what you really need is just a lot of practice.

    I find WCS is a tough one, and I think it would be easier to just dance a slow swing than try to do WCS with someone who hasn't learned the basics of WCS at least.

    I also see plenty of leaders throw their partner around with little regard for their comfort. I wasn't there to watch, but unless it is obvious, you don't know whether that follower was experiencing 3 minutes of joy or terror.

    Also, I find when watching the very best club dancers, including WCS, they don't dance complicated figures or difficult, they dance simple figures with lots of little embellishments that fit with the music, but don't affect the lead/follow dynamic. So when I see a leader trot out the fancy stuff with a beginner, it's very likely that they have a much higher opinion of their dancing than is strictly warranted.
  17. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    completely agree...
  18. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    This is pretty much where I am after my WCS reboot with Skippy Blair (although I disavow the "very best club dancers" thing).

    Since I dance at at CW place, I will often dance with women who are just starting WCS. I've been dancing basic patterns for a couple of years now, and I think I haven't gotten bored because it's about expressing the music as I attempt to match it with my own movement and that of my partner.

    Many novice dancers will be able to figure out how to match 6 count WCS patterns if YOU dance your part "on the beat" (let's leave out "syncopation" and "swing" in this discussion) and are consistent with what you do. Even some 8 count patterns aren't that mysterious (although the "Release Whip" seems to be something that even mid level dancers need coaching on).

    Depends. Last week I had someone tell me that I SHOULD more or less give her a strong lead because she didn't know what she was doing.
    Always start out with subtle leads, however, and only hatchet up as needed. Or, you just make your leads a bit earlier, which now that I think about it, is a better all round solution.

    When trying to communicate in another languge, or to someone who is trying to speak your language, use simple, direct words and structures, and speaking LOUDER isn't needed. You also want to pronounce things as clearly as you can, which isn;t the same as getting louder.
  19. cornutt

    cornutt Well-Known Member

    Yeah, it's hard to say, but just because stuff that works with other follows doesn't work with her, that does not in itself imply that the problem is with her. Some years ago, I had a conversation with my instructor in which I asked her to stop doing me so many favors. My leading was adequate for the social dancing that I was doing at that point -- but it wasn't good enough for me to progress any further, and I was stuck. And part of the problem was that my instructor sometimes responded to pretty poor leading from me, because she knew from experience with me, and from the larger context of the lesson, what it was that I intended. But I didn't want her to do that, because I wasn't learning that way.

    Next time you have a train wreck with that instructor, ask her to explain exactly what it was that she felt. Follows sometimes described a missed lead as having been "vague", which leads often interpret as "more force required", but what the follow really meant was that they felt a mix of conflicting forces that was confusing. So it's not a matter of adding force; it's a matter of taking out the conflicting forces that are confounding the intended lead.

    Now the possibility of the opposite extreme exists, that what instructor A wants in a lead is so idiosyncratic that if you learn to lead the way she wants, you will have trouble dancing with anyone else. Be on the lookout for that, but so far that doesn't seem to be happening, based on your description.
  20. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    When I danced with some people recently they talked of having to readjust their following sensitivity, increasing it, to have a good dance conversation. I offered to use a stronger lead and the response was just do what you are doing, you are clear as soon as I get used to it, the others use a lot of strength/force....

    Sometimes one has to be patient and let the followers get used to a more sensitive leader. I will definitely dance more with followers who will respond a more sensitive lead. Yanking around definitely is not for me. ;)

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