6 Tips to becoming a great lead
What is a good dance?
I was recently asked what makes a “good dance” for me. My answer went something like this.
A “good dance” is one where I feel safe. One where I don’t spend the entire song praying for my rotator cuff because the lead is using far too much force. One where I do not feel like a human bumper car, being repeatedly crashed into nearby dancers. One where the lead’s frame is grounded and strong. One where if I am stepped on or crashed into, the lead expresses concern for my well-being and inquires as to it. When I say yes to your request to dance, I am trusting you to keep me safe for the duration of that song.
A “good dance” is one of mutual consent and respect. A dialogue or conversation. An ebb and flow. Not a dictatorship. One where the lead views his/her lead as a suggestion or invitation, not a command. If you suggest a move and for whatever reason, I do not do exactly as you intend, move on. Don’t repeatedly drill the exact same move. Perhaps try it once more later in the song and if it works the way you intended, fabulous! But realize that there may be a reason I am not executing the move exactly as you had wished- perhaps I have an injury or fear of injury, perhaps that move makes me uncomfortable, perhaps I don’t feel safe doing it with you, perhaps I just don’t understand what you are trying to lead- and the social dance floor is not usually the time or place for dance instruction or critique.
A “good dance” is one where the lead is clear about what he or she is non-verbally communicating. Ambiguous, hesitant movement is confusing. And so is a ton of extraneous movement. Lead first, style second. And be confident and clear with your movements.
A “good dance” is one where we are dancing on time! Listen to the music and work at being able to pick out the appropriate counts. As a follow, I am expected to do just that- follow the lead no matter how off-beat he/she is. However, being on beat is a much more enjoyable experience.
A “good dance” is one where the lead not only stays on time, but also displays some degree of musicality. Listen to the mood, feeling, emotion, and tempo of the song and become an extension, a reflection of it! Nothing is more satisfying than being connected to my partner and the music in a manner than transcends other human connection.
A “good dance” is one where I feel connected to my partner and that he/she is connected to me. This starts with eye contact or a smile. And follows with “listening” to me as a follow- my level of dancing ability, my style of dancing, etc., and results in a beautiful, collaborative creation of living, breathing art. My favorite, most memorable dances have allowed me to transcend all other experiences of human connection to some ethereal space of peace, joy, adventure, exploration, and beauty. Connection is so important. Connection is the reason I dance.
Would be interesting to hear what other followers think or could add to this list.