In the social dancing jungle, we all generally want the same thing: To score as many good dances as possible. Beginner followers will often display this by trying to ‘force’ a dance, by adding tons of styling, yanking themselves around the floor, and generally ignoring their leader. However, wise followers know that the best way to improve their dances – and the caliber of their leaders – is to practice paying more attention to the opposite end of the partnership. The following tips will not only make the dance more fun for you, but for your partner as well.
1. When asked to dance, be polite.
Many articles have already talked about this, but here’s my 2 cents: Accept any and all dances from beginners or advanced dancers, men or women, old or young. Dance socials survive by ensuring that everyone has fun, and that means allowing everyone at least one dance. HOWEVER, you do not have to accept a dance with someone who you believe will be inappropriate or harmful to you in any way. If they come knocking, let them know you are taking a break, and give repeat-offenders a more direct ‘no thanks’.
2. Put your partner first.
It’s like this: If you don’t want your house to become a pigsty, you and your romantic partner must work together to keep it clean. Likewise, you and your dance partner each have your roles to play, so that you can both have fun while putting forth the effort needed to sustain the partnership. For a follower, this means paying attention to your leader and responding quickly, so they can lead you into more exciting moves. After all, if you aren’t willing to work with your partner, why are you dancing with them in the first place?
3. Stay alert.
A follower who tenses up at a step she hasn’t seen before is in for a tough time at a social, where only the beginner dancers are predictable. The biggest challenge every follower faces is being able to respond to the unknown as quickly as possible. Two things have to work together to make this possible: muscle memory, and a blank mind. Muscles gradually learn to react to the patterns of movement over time, so even if you weren’t prepared for a lead, you still react in the correct way. Quieting the mind is just as important however, so it doesn’t interfere with what the muscles are doing. Practice meditation, put all your mind into the connection, distract it with math sums, whatever it takes.
4. Never hang on, and never let go.
What the heck does that mean?? Well, it’s the leader’s decision to create a connection (ex. offering a hand), or to release it. But a nervous follower can easily fall into the trap of ‘hanging on for dear life’. Alternatively, they may be predicting the moment when they are supposed to take their hand back – and in doing so, they miss the cool move the leader was about to send their way!
5. Style, but make it compliment your partner.
For more experienced followers only! If you want to add your own styling, you must first know it will not interfere with your leader. For example, if the leader asks for a basic underarm turn by raising his left hand, you can likely add styling with your left hand on the turn until you face him again. Other forms of styling – body rolls, shaping, syncopated taps and flicks – have specific places where they can be executed without smacking someone’s butt by accident. Stay alert for the unexpected however, as a less experienced leader may give you less ‘room’ for styling than others.
Author: Ian Crewe – SocialBallroom.Dance
Exclusively for Dance Comp Review