General Dance Discussion > Lead/Follow Ratio at Dances

Discussion in 'General Dance Discussion' started by pygmalion, Oct 26, 2003.

  1. Sarah

    Sarah New Member

    .......After you've been practicing for a while. Your wife had had some dance experience?
    .....unless he is making it physically impossible for her to do so. Beginner leaders do this more frequently than you might think.
    Oh? I think most teachers are quite aware that what the beginning leader is being asked to do is well nigh impossible! What I am looking for, in my role as an assistant instructor is the easiest and most painless way of getting blokes over the multitasking hump. I have some ideas some more workable than others[1], but want to see what others come up with first.


    [1] f'rinstance, I think that the one involving the ego supression device and the army of well trained, infinitely patient robot followers is still in the realms of science fiction, or at least beyond our budget. ;)
  2. will35

    will35 New Member

    I guess I don't really have any workable ideas, so I can't help the forum much with that. I guess that is why I am not a teacher. But, if the purpose is to lead and follow, why tell the students that there is a little pattern that they must learn first? The woman is sure to learn the pattern fairly quickly, and that is the end of leading and following. Why not just put the two people together, and say, "Now, walk together around the room"? The man can stop whenever he wants, and the woman feels that he wants to stop. They should be able to walk before they can learn any steps. This gives them room to move to the music, too.
    I think my wife is just a natural, but I am still nearly convinced that everybody is a natural. That is, everybody can walk. Walking together is not that much more difficult.
  3. Sarah

    Sarah New Member

    Wouldn't that be nice - a classful of beginners that would walk purposefully 'round the room until they had established a connection with their partner...... unfortunately they have a tendency to start asking awkward questions like `well when do we start doing some dancing then?'
    Actually we do start students out with a merengue[1] and have them move it at random around the room, forwards, backwards, left, right, round in a circle. But soon they want more, and well that's where moves and patterns happen. :?

    Sarah, who has always been too lazy to memorise patterns, and so has had to get good at following. ;)

    [1]which isn't too different from walking, at a superficial level.
  4. will35

    will35 New Member

    Perhaps we need all followers to be a little lazy. Sounds like a good system you have.
  5. brujo

    brujo New Member

    Nah, there is a lot more groping in salsa than in Lindy or West Coast 8)
  6. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Note to self: Learn MORE salsa! :lol: :lol:
  7. redhead

    redhead New Member

    Whining time:
    Why do they say it's easy being a follower?Think about moving backwards on high heels not knowing what's coming next... And newbie leads often actually HURT followers!
    I have another problem: I don't do things if there's no lead. In a workshop a couple of weeks ago, quite a few leaders (mostly unexpirienced) gave me an "evil eye" for not doing the pattern. I DO remember it, just you didn't lead! :evil:
    OK, I'm done :wink:
  8. brujo

    brujo New Member

    I don't think anyone said being a follower is easy, but for those learning to dance, leading is much harder. Besides struggling with getting the feet right, the leader needs to also worry about dictating the timing, making sure that the pattern he leads can be understood by the follower, getting the music right, etc. On top of that, there is floorcraft in a crowded dance floor, and the most difficult part, finding a woman that is willing to dance with a beginner.
  9. Sarah

    Sarah New Member

    I didn't say anything of the kind - both roles are difficult to do well but they are completely different skill sets. Having done both, I do think that initially the beginning leader has the more difficult task - paticularly if they are actually being expected to lead rather than just signal the next move or even worse be at the right place at the right time in some prearranged choreography.
    Not good, not good at all. If the force is going beyond what you can absorb with your muscles its time for a pre-emptive ouch or two, and possibly a detailed explanation that your elbows really aren't designed to bend in that direction.
    OK - not doing things if there is no lead is the ideal. That's what we're aiming at. It's a bit pointless however if your newbie lead doesn't know that's what's supposed to be going on. They will sometimes even think that you're doing it on purpose to make them look stupid. If I thought that, I'd be p***ed too!
    What I occasionally do is explain that their leads should not have to pass through my brain on their way to my feet. I also tell them - this is a bit more salsa-specific I think - that my hips will follow my elbows, and my feet will respond to my hips when my weight isn't on them.
    Once the intellectualising is done then you have to train your newbie leader. I reward them when they even get it vaguely right by doing my bit as well as I can. I ignor it when they get it wrong - they know it's wrong and don't need me to bruise their ego further.

    Sarah <training wheels for newbie-leads>

  10. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Yup, Sarah. Inexperienced leads often either don't know how to lead the pattern, don't realize they haven't led it, or don't know they're leading something entirely different. But if you follow what you think they intended to lead, you're not helping them at all in the long run. That way, they never get the feedback they need to improve as leaders. I like you r approach of "training" the newbie leaders. :D A win-win for everybody.
  11. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    I like the idea of just walking around the room to get the idea of lead/follow.

    Maybe the newbie leaders look "p****d" because they are angry with themselves.

    An aside?:
    I'm new to a lot of this dancing, and I feel bad when I execute poorly. (I, however, usually have an embarrassed smile :oops: :) ) If I ever did get angry with a follower I would not show it. After all I have asked this person to share a few minutes with me, or agreed to share this time with her if she asks me. It's not a lifetime commitment. (This also applies in classes where there is partner switching as the tacit agreement in attending is 100% participation.)

    So, here's a recent unpleasant dance experience when the follower was the culprit. Or...maybe the fault was mine as I still am a salsa newbie and as quite a few people say it's ALWAYS the LEADER's FAULT:

    There was this salsa dance at Cornell last week and I danced with this follower who kept jumping around. There was no way that I could tame that bopping around so I could "feel" her. Forget about frame, and any of the lead/follow basics. If she kept yanking her arms around how could I prep her for a move? I couldn't do closed position as my feet were being killed. I tried solo dancing, but she looked completely lost, and was happier when we were in some sort of hand hold. So I just smiled at the ridiculous situation, did the best I could, and didn't ask her to dance again that night.
  12. Sarah

    Sarah New Member

    Granted, there's a lot of room for miscommunication and misinterpretation, paticularly in a situation where you are unsure of yourself and driven into a situation of unaccustomed physical proximity and pretty intimate non verbal communication.
    I do tend to cut people quite a lot of slack before drawing harsh conclusions like the one above. What I am trying to say is I understand the p***ed looks, whoever they're directed at, and I really don't take them personally.
    I think that most people who have experienced the dance floor realise that mistakes are made on both sides. It's just that to a spectator, a mistake usually shows up in the follower's movement, regardless of who made it. Partner dancing, being the last bastion of gallantry that it is :? the mistake is assumed to be the leader's.... but that's a bit of a mouthful!

    Anyhow I'm sure that anyone who thinks they could do better with the same partner would have been welcome to ask her. ;) Sounds like you did the best you could in an awkward situation - hope you had some good dances too.

  13. will35

    will35 New Member

    Well, I think I was probably the one who mentioned the difficulty of being a new leader. But I think that was also not what I really meant. I meant that the difficulties of being lead and leading are different. The followers' problem in many, many cases is just giving up control. The real problem is that it would be easy for the follower to give up control to some dance stud who has been dancing twenty years. Said stud would naturally accept the control, and move the dance around with confidence. On the other hand, a new leader does not really even know there is a relationship between the partners in a dance until someone tells him that he must lead. Even then, it takes a while to sink in. How can a follower give herself up to that?
    He thinks that the better he knows the footwork, the better his dance will be. That may be so, and may not be so.
    Really, the leader and the follower both have difficult parts, but different kinds of difficult. Just because the follow part is simple (just giving up control and moving with the leader) does not mean it is easy. Simple is almost always difficult. Bear with me please, if you understand only a little of what I am saying. I am always rethinking these things, you know.
    I think it is good for the follower to not do what is not lead, but Sarah's post goes a little further to helping the situation in a class.
    I am glad I am not a teacher. A teacher has these problems to think through, and even more. What about the fact that everyone learns differently. Some learn by reading books and imitating, some by not knowing anything before trying to execute. Learning by practicing, and learning by learning. A teacher has to come up with something to help everyone in the class, no matter what their style.
  14. Sarah

    Sarah New Member

    With difficulty!:D It's amazingly good following practice though - the newbies pull some really wierd stuff and to follow what they're actually doing, rather than what I think they should have learned, or making up something that makes musical sense to me ... well. :D I do explain what I'm doing - afterwards!

    In an ideal world, new leads and new follows should not have to partner each other all the time. They don't need surperbly experienced people either, just someone kind and understanding who can just be steady through mistakes.

  15. brujo

    brujo New Member

    Posted a thread on volunteer instructors eons ago on the salsa forum.

    But the best solution ( I find ) is to have people in the classes that are at a higher level. If you give them a creative discount of some sorts, or encourage this as practice, you can have a ton of more advanced dancers in the classes that can help along the leaders and followers.

    I think a big mistake in classes is that there are couples that always insist on dancing together, where a more ideal situation would be to dance with a more advanced follow ( who knows the pattern and can back-lead ) or a more advanced leader. The leader gains confidence by doing the move correctly and having a person that can provide good feedback without the emotional burden of the partner. If the follow has gotten the pattern quickly, she would know what feels right when she practices at home and correct the man.

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