General Dance Discussion > Machismo and Leading

Discussion in 'General Dance Discussion' started by Albanaich, Mar 15, 2009.

  1. Albanaich

    Albanaich New Member

    Ok I'm going to ask a difficult question here.

    Does the guy come from the same ethnic/cultural group as you?

    Often what is seen as appropriate behaviour in one culture is offensive in another. If the guy comes from a culture where its acceptable to 'touch up' women he won't know that he's doing anything wrong.

    There's a lot of 'social psychology' in leading and Northern Europeans generally have bigger problems learning to lead than people from Southern Europe because the of the restrictions on Male - Female interaction. A bit of machismo helps a lot when you are leading.

    This is even more pronounced with middle eastern cultures.

    If you've rejected him you will have insulted his 'Machismo' and he will redouble his efforts to dance with you and 'prove' he is masculine. The only thing that is likely to stop this guy is punch in the mouth or confrontation with one of the male members of the group.

    Incidentally this kind of guy is likely to pick on the shyest and most vulnerable of a group because he gets a trip out of bullying women.

    My daughters friend was in a similar situation, my daughter sorted it out by encouraging the guy to dance with her, letting the wandering hands wander till it was obviously unacceptable - then punching him on the nose and knocking to the ground with blood splattered everywhere.

    Problem solved -)
  2. WaltzElf

    WaltzElf New Member

    I can't begin to explain how much I disagree with this. A good lead has no machismo whatsoever about his dancing, quite the opposite.
  3. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member

  4. elisedance

    elisedance New Member

    tritto.... leading is about caring not controlling
  5. Albanaich

    Albanaich New Member

    A bit of machismo definitely helps when you are a beginner. . . . no doubt about it. Without that confidence you simply can't lead.

    I'd say all three of you are expressing what you want from a lead rather than what a lead needs to be. They are quite different concepts.

    A better way of putting it is that a lead needs to be firm and clear but also gentle.

    That firmness and clarity is directly related to confidence, and confidence with the opposite sex is what machismo is all about.

    As they say, 'faint heart never won fair lady'
  6. Albanaich

    Albanaich New Member

    What I find interesting is that you are agreed about something that is patently, obviously, incorrect. Unfortunately it's an attitude that is common and does nothing at all to help a beginner lead.

    Lack of confidence is the single most inhibiting factor for most leads, telling them to be more 'sensitive' 'more caring' will make them tentative and unsure.

    We've got a guy in my AT class who is a good lead - except when he is dancing with his partner. His partner has all these expectation of what a lead should be - she's a tidy little dancer - but she's like a highly strung racehorse, if you don't keep a firm (physical and mental) grip on her she'll start thinking for herself and start anticipating. His inability to control her is eating away at his confidence.

    Yet the same guy is great with a big Russian girl who is in our class, she's nothing like as skilled as a dancer - but she's a really relaxed easy follow who gives the lead plenty of confidence.
  7. elisedance

    elisedance New Member

    Perhaps what we really disagree about is the definition of machismo? to my mind it has nothing to do with confidence but more to do with assertion. It does, however, have something to do with sensitive and insensitive. I know a lot of very sensitive but also very confident men and IME they make the very best leads....
  8. Albanaich

    Albanaich New Member

    No arguements that very sensitive and very confident is the best combination in a lead - what I'm saying is that beginner needs to be confident before they need to worry about lightness of touch and execution, which is difficult to judge when you are starting out.

    Machismo is a difficult concept, which looks different from different cultural perspectives, the 'manly confidence' which many Latin Americans expect in their dance partners can often appear comical to Northern Europeans, however, my Italian dance partner in AT uses it (flatteringly) to describe to me as a partner. As he 'He is not like these cold Scots - he has machismo. . . .' on passing me on as partner to a Chilean friend.
  9. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    NON, NO, niet; control first, then caring;

    I'm fed up of wayward women who dont know how to follow or how to move their bodies with you instead where they THINK they ought to be.
  10. Wolfgang

    Wolfgang Member

    'Machismo' and leading.......
    I'll try not to step on too many toes with promises......

    Dance studios, classes and lessons go out of their way to imprint on their students the concept of 'connection'.
    Which, in reality, is a concept most people don't get.

    In part, this has something to do with the fact that many people use dance lessons of various kinds as a sort of 'dating service' (which is understandable....), and don't really care about 'connection' with people they feel no 'connection' to, if you get my drift (which you probably do).

    Looking at this from a purely dance related standpoint, there are ladies who know what they're doing and leading them is almost unnecessary, I am the 'frame', she is the 'picture', just like what they said to do at the studio, it does feel a little 'robotic' at times, but looks great to the onlookers.
    Then, there's ladies who KNOW what they're doing (.....and you DON'T.....) and they will wrestle with you all the way, turning the dance into a sort of pushing the refrigerator/pulling the couch upstairs sort of thing. They MUST be in control or life is not good.
    Finally, there's ladies who have NO CLUE what they're doing - some admit it, some don't - and the reaction to actually being led by someone who does ranges from an endless string of 'sorrys' to embarassment to surprise to joy and anything in between.

    Confidence goes a long way, at least as far as leading a dance is concerned.That way, she can just kind of come along for the ride - if that's all she knows how to do - and still look good.

    Btw, the notion that certain ethnicities are 'naturally' gifted dancers is ridiculous and disproven right in front of my eyes every Saturday night......
  11. elisedance

    elisedance New Member

    WG - your post is obviously grounded in a lot of dance experience - and you are right, in essence, leading varies so much between different pairings as to maybe make term itself useless as a single principle. Still presumably two people who step onto the dance floor are looking for some sort of shared musical and movement experience. Each could get that for themselves in an infinite variety of ways ranging from groping to staring in eyes and swaying ;) However, enjoying amutually enjoyable experience means that both have to not only seek their own thrill but also care about the other. If you reexamine your encyclopaedia of dance experinence with that filter - women you have danced with where you both cared about the experience would you define leadership any differently?
  12. danceronice

    danceronice Well-Known Member

    LoL at the (bad) analogy--take too firm a grip on a TB and you'll find out quick what his top gear is! (Ask me how I learned not to pull on my greenie OTTB's mouth. Especially riding in an open field with a big straightaway.) Dance cues are like dressage--they should be firm but SUBTLE, invisible to those outside the partnership, and never more than is required to produce the reaction. It may just be the connotation of "control"--it's control as in providing direction, offering an opening, giving signals. It's not control as in FORCING a follow to do something. Try that with a horse, eventually they will throw you into a fence (or end up a deadmouthed, push-button plodder who needs the hard hands and spur to the flank and a crop to go at all.) In riding we use the same word, frame--it means the horse is engaged, he's 'on the aides' in that he's in contact with the rider's hands via the reins and he's alert to what their legs and seat are asking--but it's not about force or domination. In fact in disciplines like dressage or jumpers or reining or (especially!) cutting, if you start REALLY trying to dominate the conversation, you're going to make matters worse. It's the same feel for dancing--as long as the frame exists, if the lead's clear, it isn't about forcing the follow into anything.

    Regarding the whole confidence/machismo thing--I'm not sure 'machismo' is the right word, and I *profoundly* disagree it's at all related to the culture of the person dancing. Those here who know me IRL and know the pros I dance with can probably guess why I think that! ;) I'm not saying that a new lead should be THAT good or subtle, but I think telling them they have to have "machismo" and have to be in control is going to cause more problems for them than it solves--you can't have control without a technical foundation. I'd rather dance with a beginner lead who's a bit tentative but who has good basic dance skills than one who knows a few steps and is working on 'being in control'. The latter usually results in someone who is trying to push me through steps rather than asking me to go where he's indicating.
  13. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    It's necessary to be able to turn on a presumptious confidence, but it needs to be justified by a degree of competence within stretching range of sufficient for the task at hand.

    And it's equally necessary to be able to turn it off and listen, too.
  14. cornutt

    cornutt Well-Known Member

    Well, what it comes down to, in the context of the discussion on this page, is that the follow has to be willing assume the responsbilities of her role. As long as she does that, all kinds of problems in the execution are easily forgiven. If she doesn't, the lead is going to have a miserable experience no matter what he does. If I have to force a follow to follow, either physically or psychologically, then frankly it isn't worth the trouble. Dancing shouldn't feel like work. ;)
  15. elisedance

    elisedance New Member

    ah... but if only work felt like dancing...
    but I digress - unless there is a machismo here willing to save this damsel in dance distress...
  16. Well gee whiz, do you wanna, I don't know, I mean, you know, dance and stuff, a little, only if you wanna, I mean with me, if you wanna, huh?
  17. and123

    and123 Well-Known Member

    oh yeah baby, that kind of talk'll get me every time :cool:
  18. elisedance

    elisedance New Member

    hands off, he groped me first... !
  19. WaltzElf

    WaltzElf New Member

    RE: the machismo. I have never, once, made a woman do something on the dance floor. Not when I was a beginner, not when I now dance with beginners. I ask her, through my lead, to do something. If she doesn’t want to, or isn’t capable of following through with my request, I change what I am doing. It’s a conversation where the focus is very much on the lady and what she wants to do. Not an assertive “we’re doing what I want” – which is exactly what a term like machismo implies.

    Am I confident on the floor? Yes. Am I leading? Yes. Do I make the lady do anything? No.
  20. etp777

    etp777 Active Member

    "He's not the boss. He proposes the step. It is your choice, as the woman, whether or not to follow" or something along those lines. :)

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