Follow My Lead

April 14, 2010

Partner dancing (in many forms) is finally gaining popularity (again) – in bar rooms, ballrooms, dance halls, saloons, restaurants, studios, and even television. What sometimes seems to overlooked is that what makes partner dancing unique and special (from dance in general) is NOT the dancing but the partnership (required).

The difference between dancing alone, or in a formation, and dancing WITH someone is that you can NOT just do whatever you want – even if you think that it is “right” (or “better”). You HAVE to do what works with the person you are with! Both beginning and “advanced” dancers often over-estimate their or their partners abilities – and thus do not really move or enjoy their time together as much as they could if they remembered to pay more attention to their partner than the music, steps, patterns, or desired body movements (mainly for show).

Lead, follow, or get out of the way? Followers are in many ways more important than leaders – for without anyone to follow, no one is a “leader” (no matter what they think, say, or do).

Women sometimes claim that “most men can’t lead” and that they know how to follow someone who “knows how” to lead. What this says to me is that THEY do not know how (or want) to follow! Even the best leader can only dance to the level of his partner – and her ability to follow his lead. I think many men either can’t, don’t, or won’t lead mainly because women won’t let them. Women who can’t or won’t follow basically give most men only two options: force her to follow (and risk being too rough) or abdicate control completely (and either follow her or just dance apart next to each other).

How people play games (and roles) is often VERY similar to how they behave in other circumstances. Dance is an appropriate metaphor for many things. When, how, and why someone dances with someone else (as a partner) often reveals many things about them (both) – especially regarding relationships (both on and off the dance floor).

In many dance classes and performance teams, a lot of women seem overly concerned with learning “their part”, doing things “right”, and trying to “look good“. What these women seem to forget – or not understand – is that they do NOT look good nor are they fun or desirable to dance with when they don’t move together (by letting the man they are with lead). Every man will do something different. It is up to the lady to adjust as much as it is for the man. Regardless of how bright, beautiful, and competent a dancer a woman may be, she might be surprised to find out that she probably doesn’t follow as well as she thinks (or even as well as many male dancers). Instead of anticipating, trying to help, back-leading, or worrying about choreography and styling, she will look, feel, and be more attractive and desirable when she simply (smiles and) follows.

A good leader is usually also a good follower. A good follower, however, would do best to NOT try and lead – even when their “leader” is not doing as “well” as s/he would like. A good follower will make them both look (and feel) good – just as a good leader will (attempt to). People will notice (and tell others) about how you are WITH someone MORE than how well you (may or may not) dance (on your own).

The most important PART to remember in dancing is usually not timing or technique, but your PARTner! The more women (as followers) are able to relax, trust, and follow their partner(s), the better the experience on (and also often off the dance floor as well) will be for everyone.

How does YOUR dancing reflect your relationships – and how you lead and/or follow in other areas of life?

© 2010 – 2015, Oren Pardes. All rights reserved.

Oren Pardes

Oren Pardes has written 48 post in this blog.

One Response to “Follow My Lead”

  1. […] just stop or hold, the body keeps moving as weight is transferred from one foot to the other. The follower typically mirrors the footwork (in reverse). True “LA style” is more than just dancing […]

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