Ballroom Dance > 10 Commandments for Leaders

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by DanceMentor, Oct 22, 2013.

  1. cornutt

    cornutt Well-Known Member

    It's kind of splitting hairs with word definitions, but I don't really think the word that best describes what happens is not "guess" but "react". Or maybe a better way of putting it is, if I'm communicating the lead clearly, then you will "guess" correctly every time, or nearly so, so it really isn't guessing at all. You knew what the right answer was. If I give you a flat-out wrong lead (hey, it happens) and you react to it, you didn't guess wrong; you correctly answered the question that was asked. I asked the wrong question. If I give you an ambiguous lead or no lead at all, I should expect to get a random response -- the follow feels like she is having to "guess", and in a sense she is, but in another sense it's impossible to answer a question that was not asked. Either way it's on me.
    FancyFeet likes this.
  2. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    right...however you define my lived experience, I have to guess and I have to react, but certainly, with a good lead, it is less of the first and more of the second...if I only react in a scenario with a bad lead, it will usually go will go better wit a bad lead if I guess more than will go better with a good lead if I mostly only react....but there is a mental sifting process however brief and however you label it
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2013
  3. Purr

    Purr Well-Known Member

    Thou shalt not talk down to thy follower on the dance floor. This includes offering copious instruction on following what is your dubious lead (see commandment regarding seeking instruction on leading). Thy follower is not amused, and while follower may be polite to you on the dance floor, thy follower may not want to dance with you again.
    hereKittyKitty, cornutt and IndyLady like this.
  4. Warren J. Dew

    Warren J. Dew Well-Known Member

    I say, email Augusto and ask him for Bill Irvine's ten commandments for leaders. If Bobbie had a set for followers, Bill should have had a set for leaders, no?
  5. clumsy fellow

    clumsy fellow Active Member

    Don't step on the wrong toes....
    Bailamosdance likes this.
  6. stash

    stash Well-Known Member

    Going along the same lines, don't try to tell me how my frame should look and feel. Unless you have extensive training on lady frame, don't try to force us into a particular shape. What you want to feel, how you go about producing that feeling, and how we actually go about producing that feel can be (and usually are) completely different things. You could end us hurting rather than helping. If something feels off, bring it to our attention and then we can go to a female pro to go about correcting said problem.
    Purr likes this.
  7. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    - Project your steps before you move

    - Lead rather informally than just physically
  8. chomsky

    chomsky Well-Known Member

    thou shall love your partner more than yourself. I think it sums it up. And when you do, your dancing is perfect. Never in a romantic way, always in the way religions across the world aspire to...from a human being to another...
  9. Dr Dance

    Dr Dance Well-Known Member

    I cannot vouch for your past experiences because I don't know you. But I can tell from your posts that due to the varying quality of leads that you have received, you believe that you have been put in a position where you have to "guess" the intent: Is he leading an open promenade or a chase turn? Natural twist turn or running feather? You seem to be confusing guesswork with reaction, or you are at least linking them inseparably. Your interpretation of "guess" seems to take an all inclusive view of everything that we do. The intersection is empty so I guess that it is safe to cross. You seem to be stating that all of our choices are educated guesses, including every decision a woman makes to follow leads. In many cases, this is definitely true! I empathize with this view. And I almost agree, but not quite.

    There are some reactions that we have that are not based on guesswork. When the doctor tests our reflexes during his exam by striking our kneecap with his mallet, we don't have time to think about whether or not it is proper to raise our knee. The knee raise simply happens. I was taught that a proper lead does not allow time for the woman to guess what she needs to do because she needs to react instantly. She needs to be a fraction of a second behind her leader. If she takes time to weigh choices, then she has lost her window of opportunity. I believe that a successful follower needs to be more reflexive than interpretive.

    But what about "bad" or incorrect leads? Followers are never wrong if they follow what the man leads, incorrect or not. If the leader does not lead, then the follower has no obligation to follow. But if the follower decides to take the "interpretive" approach to vague or nondescript leads, then she has usurped the leader's role. This may indeed be more of the leader's issue than the follower. But I don't believe that the follower need ever step outside of her box to "guess" her proper response to any lead regardless of the lead's quality.

    Successful partner negotiation is all important. She has every right to say, "I moved here because that is where you led me." Or he has every right to say, "I intended to dance a whisk, not a hover telemark." "Right" or "wrong" would be bad qualifiers. Dancing is never a "blame game." You and your partner are attempting to move as one unit. You may only move as one unit if you move with one mind. The leader initiates. And the follower reacts. Anything less falls short.
    Warren J. Dew likes this.
  10. clumsy fellow

    clumsy fellow Active Member

    Pass the popcorn....
  11. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    we don't have a large disagreement...

    certainly, there is no time for prolonged thought...certainly with a good lead there is a quicker more trustworthy reaction time...and it always goes better with less thought...I would not argue that...I can recognize whatever he is doing with his body and what it is saying to me (not pattern-wise but positionally)and can trust into that...nonetheless, there is still usually (but not always) a flash of a guess/recognition of what is going on...

    it is somewhat different in terms of the knee reflex analogy in that one is completely involuntary...the other is not (at least not always)..though, in both cases it is best not to fight it

    as to the experience with a poor lead...I am wondering how much following you have done with very poor leads wherein you were not aware of what they were trying to lead(and that is a crucial distinction)...because, let me assure you that often, if a lady doesn't go ahead and do the less than ideal thing (which is to go ahead and guess)...and I admit that it is less than ideal...if she doesn't go ahead and guess, she may very well find herself least in a social may not agree...but we will just have to agree to disagree on that...

    now, if we are talking about the case of two intermediate level amatuers in a learning setting, I would completely agree with you, the lady should be moving toward the ideal of reaction (with and option to add a mental calculation)...though I have not had the good fortune of experiencing as much of that as I would like....but, in a social setting, often guessing is a survival skill and I say that as what I would fairly claim to be a follow of above average capacity....

    I get that one needs to let go and respond...I am only saying that the efficacy of that varies greatly depending upon the lead
    cornutt likes this.
  12. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    in short, the follow can only really leave her brain that far behind if the lead is trustworthy...but there is always something the follow is, in a flash (however rapidly and wordlessly) interpreting and responding to...the proportions of which, again, imv, depends upon who is leading...let there never be a doubt that my preference would be to completely and only respond...and, with the right lead, there is nothing more sublime...
  13. cornutt

    cornutt Well-Known Member

    Fasc, I have to admit that it took me a few minutes to get my head wrapped around that... my experience at following is limited enough such that whenever I have a communications breakdown with my lead, I tend to assume that it is because of my inadequacies as a follow. So I haven't experienced the react/guess spectrum, and this is actually the first time I've heard it described that way. So thanks for that... gives me something to think about.
    chomsky likes this.
  14. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    you are welcome...:)

    here is the thing, I am under no delusion that in my lessons, the fault for anything going wrong is 99.999999999% mine

    but, socially, at least where I am located, the likelihood that I am dealing with a lead who has virtually no technique very, for instance, if I don't think to myself; "self, he is going to dip you and when he does he is going to lean toward you and push you away from him toward the ground so you had better get ready to brace your legs"...we may end up on the floor with me on the bottom...and that is also not really going to be a pleasing outcome for me....

    guessing may also be neccessary on nearly every rotating figure and every lead to promenade..socially...

    obviously, with my pro, the less I worry about his job the better...and that works just fine by me

    and, if I was ever fortunate enough to have a parter of similar skill level to my own, I would do my best to proceed by only often as possible
    Miss Silly, cornutt and stash like this.
  15. Phil Owl

    Phil Owl Well-Known Member

    Thou shalt NOT lecture thy partner on the dance floor

    Thou shalt not make thy partner feel incompetent

    Deathgrip or twisting thy partner's arms/wrists is forbidden!

    Make thy partner feel like they're the most beautiful person in the world
    Purr likes this.
  16. Terpsichorean Clod

    Terpsichorean Clod Moderator

    Golden Rule: Lead others as you would have them lead you

    My little bit of experience following (social dancing plus a few comps) has helped me develop a *ton* of empathy for followers.
  17. Gorme

    Gorme Active Member

    Unfortunately, as a leader, that has happen so few times that I wouldn't know how I want others to lead me.
  18. stash

    stash Well-Known Member

    Solution same sex vwaltzs all the times. You know the steps, but you don't know when a close change will come ;)
    dancelvr and hereKittyKitty like this.
  19. Thou shalt not change your mind!
    When you have performed a lead and I have started the step, it's too damn late! (My beloved's jive leads!)
    stash likes this.
  20. Dr Dance

    Dr Dance Well-Known Member

    But doesn't this "flash of recognition" (good phrase!) typically occur "after the fact" when you have already "been led" for whatever? This is of course fine! But you may encounter trouble if you try to anticipate his lead before it happens.

    Thank you for expounding upon this very key point! Although the patient in my analogy responds "involuntarily" when his leg pops up after his knee is struck, his behavior is still voluntary when he submits to the exam. Followers exhibit both voluntary and involuntary reactions when they are led. The key is the ORDER of these responses. Example: We are dancing fox trot. I choose to lead a natural twist turn. As I shape strongly right into the twist itself, you are properly beckoned to syncopate your walk around. And you do so magnificently! To finish the twist turn, as a leader, I have AT LEAST two choices: I can assume promenade position to finish with something like a zig zag or weave from promenade position. Or I can shape sharply left and rise to interrupt this first choice to keep you in closed dance position to prepare to step outside for a hover feather finish. Let's assume that I pick door #2. As you are walking around, you then feel me shape left. Because your body is pliable and because you have voluntarily agreed to follow me, your body reacts before you have a chance to think (reflexive). It is ONLY THEN that your mind recognizes what I am doing (interpretive). Once you do recognize what I did, then you can further react by stretching your body accordingly to aid and abet my lead.

    But followers need to be "reflexive" first before they can interpret.

    One of my former teachers once snidely remarked to his lady partner, "It's not your job to think! Leave that to me! (The leader.)" This ALMOST hits the mark! But his point that she needed to "turn off" her brain to allow her to be reflexive first was spot on!

    Ladies, your mind is your best friend, but also your worst enemy when following. Don't allow your thought processes to anticipate or interrupt what the leader does. Wait until "it" happens, then interpret and embellish.

    Although I don't really care for the practice, my (standard) group instructor insists that we students dance BOTH ROLES to better understand what we are doing. So yes, I have had a fair amount of experience as a follower. Sometimes during socials, my lady instructor friend will offer to lead me in a standard dance to test both of our skills. Quite frankly, I generally stink at following. As a leader, I'm too occupied thinking like a "chess player" to organize possible moves and alternatives depending upon floor crowds and conditions. This handicaps me to no end when I follow. Closing my eyes has helped. This forced me to rely upon feeling what my leader is doing. My reactions improved accordingly.

    I have also been led by beginners who were not doing well. I have found myself "jerked around" or left in the lurch without a clue. So yes, I empathize with your rather poor following experiences. But guessing can actually contribute rather than prevent injury. I believe that your best recourse other than outright refusal to participate is to think of it like a martial arts fight or judo. Stay loose and pliable. If he accidentally throws you to the ground, you will be better able to react in time to break your fall or even save him from harm.

    I believe that you agree with me for the case of two intermediate dancers (or above). But I can't agree with you when your guy is leading sloppily, insufficiently, or inadequately. I insist that you "live and die" with your man. If he is off key, adjust to him, not the music. If you are not sure what he just led, then don't try to anticipate. Stop. Ask questions. Even advise him if he asks and is willing. But you endanger yourself and him when you attempt to interpret a bad lead before it happens.
    chomsky likes this.

Share This Page