Swing Discussion Boards > Forceful Lead???

Discussion in 'Swing Discussion Boards' started by Vince A, Jul 7, 2006.

  1. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    There are a lot of newbies on the DF, and I'm sure a lot of them wonder . . .

    As a successful leader, and without using forceful leads, how do you get your partner to go where you want them to go?
  2. latingal

    latingal Moderator Staff Member

    Okay, guess I'm not really qualified to answer this one from a leaders perspective....but from a follower's perspective, I guess it depends on the type of movement you're doing and the level of the follower you're dancing with.

    For me, leaders that use body shaping and shifting (their own bodies that is - I can shape and shift my own thanks!), convey directional movement through center/connection with a still and toned arm, and at appropriate times firm consistent (but small) movement of the arm to create a lead all help me.

    But since I don't lead...I'm sure I'm missing many of the intracacies here! Would love to hear what the leaders think....
  3. quixotedlm

    quixotedlm New Member

    it depends on the level of your follower. most intermediate+ followers will know to keep body connection, and will move with you as you move. so it will suffice to move your hand and their hand will follow. or if your body leads them to a different spot, their body will follow too. it is almost as if you are two self-propelled automobiles coupled by an electronic eye, only that you lead and she follows.

    with beginners and like, you have to use a bit of force. they will eventually grow out of it.

    the trick is to switch from different levels of followers in the same night, and not carry over the bad habit of using extra force when dancing with the better followers. this is a hard trick.
  4. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    . . . "I'm sure I'm missing many of the intracacies here!"

    Ah, ha . . . you've mentioned where I'm heading with this.

    I have a new Pro, and she says that when you dance with her competition partner, Mr. "X," that as a follower, you absolutely know where to go, you know where he wants you to go, and you end up exactly where he wants you to.

    And I've danced with him as well, and you know, she's right!

    I've been told that I am a great lead, but yet . . . I've had some follows that do get "mixed-messages from me." I know, i know - it's all in the prep. I give good prep. I small preps . . . as you mentioned. I know thousands of patterns . . . yech!

    The "prep" - I've heard that a 1000 times . . . that's not what I want here. I wanna know that little secret that gets the follower from point A to point B w/o being forceful, which I'm not. In fact, I've been I have an extremely light lead. I wanna know what tells that follower to go "right there" and "stay there until I lead you into something else."
  5. waltzgirl

    waltzgirl Active Member

    Maybe you should ask your pro's partner!

    And let us know his secret.
  6. Dancelf

    Dancelf Member

    I don't want you to lead louder, I want you to lead more often - advice to me from Mario Robau Jr, many years ago.

    My take, with points in no particular order:

    1) If you want a follower to go right there, then you have to not also be leading her to go anywhere else. Ever. In other words, giving a exact unambigious lead needs to be habit, not something you just pull out when you need it. If you want precise control, you have to earn it, so to speak.

    2) The "right there" has to be something physically comfortable. Knocking your partner over does no one any good. So you have to learn where you are leading your partner.

    Classic example here is an inside roll (a left side pass with the follower turning to the left during the first triple). Followers often end up falling out of this turn to the right, because the leaders knock them over during the turn. Stand at an end of the slot and watch a beginner/intermediate couple dance this pattern and you'll see what I mean (hint, the slot usually moves to the right at the end of the pattern for some "mysterious" reason).

    3) The quality of the connection is independent of the force of the lead, and tells the follower how precisely she is expected to follow. I typically use three settings - my natural connection most of the time, a very loose connection when I want partner to play, and "Tazmanian Death Grip" when I need follower to Do As She Is Told [tm]. In reality, you've got a continuum available here.

    Note that the quality of the connection does not change the force used in the lead. I'm not trying to make the lead harder, I'm trying to make it harder to ignore.

    Something to keep in mind: everything that touches, leads. If your right hand and your left hand lead two different directions, you aren't going to get the pin point control you want. So practice leading each bit seperately, concentrating on getting the same result. (Example: for a standard whip, practice leading it with the left hand without using the right at all, then practice leading the same whip with the right hand, leaving the left out of it).

    Another handy drill. Practice leading each of your basic patterns one weight change at a time.
    1 person likes this.
  7. DWise1

    DWise1 Well-Known Member

    Basic Ki. No force. Connect (ie, take the slack out, so that you are blended). Move your center to move hers. Still blended, move to redirect her motion to where you want it. No force, but do use The Force (ie, Ki).

    And, yes, you do need to keep your own mind extended to where you want to move her, without also leading her off into false directions.
  8. chandra

    chandra New Member

    Here is something Doug Rouser wrote on a similar topic on the forum Strictly westie. It kinda pertains, and was helpful for me, so... Hope its useful:
    Incidently, for me - knowing exactly where you want her to be. How are you going to be clear in your lead, if you arent quite sure what you are leading!
  9. chandra

    chandra New Member

    I wanna dance with you!
  10. latingal

    latingal Moderator Staff Member

    Hey Vince, one more thing came to mind as I read through these different posts - again just throwing it out to see what you think. The pros I work with seem to have a remarkable sense of where the followers weight is and where the follower is over their feet.

    Their leads and how they use their bodies are timed to work with my weight and reach. They also seem to have the ability to "put me over my foot"....kind of a misnomer because I use my own movement to get over my foot, but they never knock me off of it and when using the lead to assist in speed, they are always aware of my placement and adjust accordingly.
  11. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    This is some great reading . . . and some great stuff for newbies to us more "mature" dancers . . . I've read and re-read these a few times, picking up vauable info each time.

    I would ask my Pro's partner, but he lives in New York City now.

    Chandra . . . I'll dance with you anytime, anywhere . . . but keep in mind . . . but you'll have to remind me, from time-to-time, of your "*cough* *cough* Jailbait *cough*" *cough* comment that you made in another post . . .
  12. MrPlow

    MrPlow New Member

    Practice, practice, practice.

    This may help. Google on "notes for leaders" and "lindy". First on the list will be site I can't post a link to because of the forum rules won't let me post links.

    Whenever I'm complimented on my leading I have a stock answer that usually gets a laugh. I explain that I spent a lot of time and effort learing how to lead as it's the only time in my life where I'm reasonably sure that most of the time the woman I'm with is going to do what I want her to.
  13. wooh

    wooh Well-Known Member

    As a follower, the advice about leading in only one direction is very important. A lot of guys are really bad about prepping like they'll send you one direction, then changing their mind or something mid prep and it's going another direction. And if it's after I've committed my mind to one way, it's a little bobble on my part but if it's after I've committed my weight and energy to going, it's really hard to go where you're leading.
  14. chandra

    chandra New Member

    Well then Vince A, whats your event list for the year? And maybe LeftFeetNYC could ask your pros partner, as I think she studies with him! (Colacino?)

    Out your way Ill be doing boogie and Open I think. Also Dallas Dance maybe, thats not really your way though. Other than that its MW events...
  15. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    I have two hours with her tonight, and I intend to ask her exactly that. I remember taking privates with Jason, and dancing with him (I do follow fairly well) I went everywhere he put me. I thought that the more I danced, the more time on the floor . . . all this would come to me, and most of it has.

    What brought this up, was that a lot of times, many of us hang around together at a dance . . . things come up, and one of those things (recently) was the girls talking about "who they considered as the very best leader" . . . and "you just seem to know exactly where to go with him." I wanted to know why and how.

    So, yep, Katie will get that question tonight . . . stay tuned for her answer . . . if she can answer it.

    We've discussed going to Dallas . . . just depends on how many more qualifiers we need for "Worlds." We both work during the US Open this year, however, my band plays at night . . . I may make by myself!
  16. quixotedlm

    quixotedlm New Member

    This is one of the hardest and very subtle element in leading, and probably one of the last skills come to fruition. If you haven't discovered the need to hone this particular aspect of leading, I'd highly recommend not worrying about it too much until you recognize its usefulness yourself.
  17. atk

    atk Active Member


    I like an analogy for considering this:

    Consider dancing as a conversation, with the words being the lead and follow.
    If the leader doesn't know a word s/he can still try to lead it, but it will probably be quiet or mispronounced. If the follower doesn't understand a word or if she ignores a word, she will be unable to follow it.

    So, to tell a follower to go where you want: you need to be clear, you need to be correct (pushing her away won't bring her towards you) and she needs to know how to listen for the lead, without anticipating.

    So, to continue the analogy, let me rephrase your question: As a successful speaker, and without using a raised voice, how do you get your partner to go where you want them to go?

    The answer, of course, is to ask them with the appropriate words. Or, coming back from the analogy, to lead them with appropriate leads. And to learn appropriate leads, we have teachers, social dances, and instructional books, as we have teachers, books, and dictionaries.

    Though I doubt any of that helped answer the question...
  18. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    atk is getting close to the answer.
    The dances we are talking about are partner dances. And although we are discussing leading, this only only part of the equaton.
    In the conversation analogy, you have to both know the same language. And your partner has to understand each of your words, and be able to react to them. In partner dances, poor technique on the follow side is similar to someone not knowing your language, or not being about to put the words in the proper context.
    Yes, if you have developed the skill of knowing where your partner's weight is, and where her momentum will take her, and whether or not there is any chance she will pick up a lead to change direction, you will be a much better leader. But you will be constantly dancing around the problem!
    It is not always the leader's fault if things don't work.
  19. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    I read all of these responses last night after I got home from taking some privates and a group class on "whips." I liked the handcuffs part too!

    I needed to let them sink in, and spent a while in bed going over and over them in my head. This is some great stuff - all of the responses are kinda saying the same thing - but each in its own way.

    I've totally taken a "new look" at my leading, and after an hour or so last night with my Pro - just about started anew with leading WCS. I asked my Pro about leading w/o being a strongarm, and OMG, I don't think I can type everything that came out, but those little, subtle movements that we leaders do can, and will throw a follow off.

    For instance . . . a left side pass . . . simple, basic, and a very, very easy leadable move. Nice light connection, no tension in the left arm or shoulder, etc., . . . and here is where it started . . . as I stepped back, ct 1, Katie noticed my arm had come up about a half-inch. She stopped, saying, "You just put tension in your arm." "This tells me, you may be doing a left side pass, but since the arm tensed and slightly raised, you could be setting up for a tuck turn." She went on to show that if I lowered my arm, I could be setting her up for side-pass with a ronde' at the end of the slot.

    Same thing for followers . . . for instance, at the end of a pattern, and as both as anchoring in place, cts 5&6, if the followraises her/his arm ever so slightlym she is telling the lead that she/he could be getting ready to do something . . . why? . . . she/he just put tension in the arm indicating "something." NO TENSION . . . frame and connection, yes.

    So, there it began . . . basics, but I learned so-o-o-o-o much last night. My lead now (I still have to practice a lot) "says" where I want her to go, w/o giving her indications of "where I could be asking her to go" (Staying with the conversation theory above). Now I can put her weight over her feet, she is not guessing anymore. She knows where I want her to go.

    Oh, and during our private, I asked her inquired about her partner, asking her "how does he do it so well?"

    She said there was no way to put it in words, and that she really didn't know. She did say that he is very powerful . . . every movement comes from his center . . . and that he is like a Tazmanian Devil - meaning that he is everywhere at one time, constantly putting himself where he needs to be, so that he can put you where he wants you to be.

    I tell you . . . last night was the most eye-opening lesson I've ever had in my life (no knock to all of my other Pros, teachers, instructors, etc.). After all the questions were answered, we put them to practice, and oh, we added 2 "Swango" moves to our WCS routine . . . "Yeow" . . . "HOT" . . . s-s-s-s-s-s-S-S-S-S-S-S-S! Most of my "new" footwork comes directly from my inner thighs . . . talk about being grounded!

    Sorry to be so long-winded!!! But I'm just getting my wind, as last night just took it away.
  20. chandra

    chandra New Member


    I had a great lesson last night too, talking about listening to that ;)
    I think we really need to put this into practise!

Share This Page