General Dance Discussion > How do you learn to lead?

Discussion in 'General Dance Discussion' started by MadamSamba, Oct 7, 2003.

  1. MadamSamba

    MadamSamba Member

    I haven't been dancing long, but am finally coming to grips with being lead, a concept I had a really, really difficult time coming to grips with. It's only now that I relax (thanks largely to dancing way too much salsa) that I can "allow" a guy to lead me. I thought it was just my problem, being horridly independent and waaaaay too controlling, but I heard a couple of guys talking in the studio the other day and one of them, a fabulous dancer in his late 40s, no doubt lamenting the good old days, said, "yeah, all those single, career-women can't be lead.''

    At first I thought, "argh, typical", but then I started wondering if there was even an iota of truth in the off-the-cuff comment. Seriously, decades ago, when ballroom dancing was the norm, women were far more "maleable", I'm told by one of my teachers. These days, he's said before, that many of the women (he was basically painting a picture of me) who were single and working had a really hard time learning to be lead. Have any other guys/girls had this experience and if so, do you think it's an individual thing or a generational thing? Also, how do you think a gal can "learn" to be lead?
  2. tango

    tango New Member

    Well as a guy I'm having a tough time leading my girlfriend, she's very fiesty and strong willed. But on the dance floor it becomes a problem. For example we have a swing routine coming up and most of it's planned but depending on the direction we're pointing I might need to throw in an extra step or two to stay square with the crowd. In her head she just follows the "routine" script and won't follow my lead if I need to correct, or even if I screw up. When that happens it doesn't look good at all and we lose the rhythm and then I have to do some fancy foot work to get back, especially when she's headed in a different direction!!!

    When I first started dancing this is what I was told and I agree with it 100%:

    On the floor the guys job is to lead and let the girl enjoy the dance. The guy's joy comes when all the girls want to dance with him.

    When I'm dancing and the girl just let's go and relaxes and follow's my lead it's great and fun, when it's a tug-of-war it's not so fun. We both have parts to play and neither is better so just go with it.
  3. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    She needs to dance with everyone she can . . .

    Read the following excerpt:

    "You cannot become a good dancer by dancing _only_ with the same person. Dancing only with each other, you will become good at dancing with each other with all the mistakes and bad habits that become "correct" for you."

    I had the same problem for years, until I learned to just get out there and ask everyone to dance and to never turn down a dance. You get better at dancing by learning to dance with more experienced dancers, and you learn to lead/follow better by dancing with less experienced dancers.
  4. Danish Guy

    Danish Guy New Member

    That’s why I like rotating partners often in the studio.

    If a beginner won’t be lead, I tell her directly to relax and let me do the leading. This often helps a lot, but not always.

    (But on the discotheques, if they are dancing hand to hand, and the lady want a right turn, she will often have to lead herself).

    In class, when we are learning a new routine, and rehearsing again and again, I sometimes throw in a little different routine, to wake up the lady, and notice the lead, in stead of just do what she think I’m going to lead. :twisted: This also tells me if my lead is clear enough. :wink:
  5. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Evil! :evil: You actually expect ladies to follow your lead in dance class? :lol:

    This is a good point, Danish guy. A lot of group classes are like that -- the teacher dictates what pattern is being danced at any given time, so followers don't really have to follow. They just dance their parts. I wonder what techniques dance teachers use when teaching group classes to get around this. Hmmm.
  6. Sarah

    Sarah New Member

    I am as you describe a horribly independant single woman, but as my following skills started as a set of acquired defensive reflexes from my martial arts training (Xthread) I never really had a problem.
    Maleable meaning we'd do what we're told? Swings and roundabouts. These days we're far less likely to treated like pretty imbeciles by the professionals (bank managers, lawyers, doctors) we deal with. I wouldn't give that up to be a better follower.
    Definitely possible. It might help you to think of the right to lead you as a temporary priviledge that is granted by you and may be revoked at any time. That way you remain in overall control. Then get good at following and the guys will think its a priviledge too. :D

    On to practical stuff -
    One thing my teacher did with me to clean up my following was to lead me through a series of improvised steps without any music, basic step or even any discernable rhythm[1]. Absolutely no possibility of anticipating anything. I found it a really good excercise, it tuned up my following no end[2].

    Sarah <advice worth what you paid for it ;)>

    [1]This is really difficult. I've tried doing it for other people and, well I suppose I need about another ten years of practice :?

    [2] Actually it tuned it to the point that I had to deliberately de-tune in order to dance with beginners. I found that I was following the noise in their signal, which caused some wierd steps on my part and a certain amount of confusion on theirs.
    `what was that :shock:'
    `I dunno - you lead it. :lol:'
  7. Danish Guy

    Danish Guy New Member

    He he, been there, lead that.
    (And sometimes still do :oops: )

    I was wondering if being lead, while being blindfolded would increase the way you listen to the leads. I have tried leading a blindfolded follower twice, and it really tune me up to be clear in the signals. And i'm impressed in what patters is possible this way.
  8. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Yes! My coach does this with me from time to time, just to torture me! :lol: Just kidding. It's to help me learn to follow, not just take visual cues and do the patterns on my own. Works like a charm. Pretty terrifying for the blind-folded person at first, especially in open position. But it really builds following skills and trust, too. Cool. :D 8)

Share This Page