Ballroom Dance > Discussions on following

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by elisedance, Jan 31, 2008.

  1. elisedance

    elisedance New Member

    I have tried to raise issues relating to following in ballroom both within threads and even as new threads. I've noted that when we discuss issues pertaining to leading the discussion is dominated by technically-inclined men. That is to be expected (although maybe not alwasy satisfactory) as often the lead has to scrutinize these methods to the point of having a constructive opinion.

    However, when we discuss the follower, with the exception of myself, the same thing happens. The men contribute with discussions of how to set up the follow. Despite numerous outstanding follows on this forum (way more accomplished than me) I often find myself as the sole contributor to the discussion. Frankly, this makes me feel a bit uncomfortable since although I think I qualify as a reasonably strong intermediate dancer, I do not think I should act as any kind of authority on the issue.

    So, my question is why is this the case? Are follows timid (don't think so) reluctant to share (not on other issues) or maybe they feel the issues are not worth discussing or too difficult to address. Either way can someone enlighten me (men, please do also try since I fear my question will meet the same fate...).
  2. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    reality is-- lead and follow are very complex issues , and tho many may be able to express how they " feel " whilst being, or not , lead, to place it into a technical realm, is a whole other issue .
    Add to this mix, the variety of styles we are addressing, with sometimes conflicting Prof. opinions .

    Human nature tells us we do not normally wish to be criticised for our thoughts and or opinions, particularly on a public format .

    And, lastly, many may not have a precise answer ,to many of the Qs , that are posed . This--- seems to be one of those .
  3. skwiggy

    skwiggy Well-Known Member

    While I agree the men do contribute to more of the technical discussion than the women on this forum, I definitely don't think you are the only one who contributes. I know I contribute sometimes, and just off the top of my head I recall contributions from other ladies as well including Larinda, Kitty, Ithink, fascination, Peaches, and samina, just to name a few. I know there are others as well, but again this is just off the top of my head.
  4. elisedance

    elisedance New Member

    Oops! I certainly did not mean to say that the follows don't contribute to the discussions - thats patently not true, its just on the issue of how to follow - on that there seems to be so little input. That is amazing since its the main thing that we do, Perhaps its as TT says, maybe following goes beyond formal technique the issues are very personal. But if that is the case isn't that an even better reason to discuss? I have tried to verbalize what I am doing - and I would readily admit that this can be contradictory depending on the context. I just feel that the whole subject does not invoke the kind of interest that one might expect on DF.

    Of course, maybe there is a whole thread in 2004 on this that I have yet to find!!
  5. Laura

    Laura New Member

    Part of the reason why I don't contribute much to the technical discussions is because many times when I do, one or more of the men who dominate the discussion start coming across to me like either I don't know what I'm doing or that my teachers don't know what they're doing. I'm really tired of that, so I just don't bother much unless I'm really really sure I can fully articulate what it is I want to express about the topic.
  6. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    "following" vs. "dancing the lady's part of a figure" are two very different things, but they often tend to get merged in the discussion.

    Dancing the lady's part is mostly about dancing, with some unique aspects in poise, etc that differentiate it from what the men are doing.

    Following itself is rarely discussed - perhaps it should be, but the major enabling skill is being able to execute common dance actions with good technique by automatic reflex, and being able to do so with the strength to reserve enough capacity to be open to all possibilities until something specific becomes known.

    This tends to mean that unless the discussion is really specifically about the "following" part of the puzzle - if it is instead about the dance technique parts, then it veers off into a discussion of dance technique, which really isn't very different regardless if you are the person doing it, or the person dancing with the person doing it.
  7. skwiggy

    skwiggy Well-Known Member

    This is the exact same thing that holds me back from contributing more often than I do as well.
  8. madmaximus

    madmaximus Well-Known Member

    I had to learn how to follow properly before I learned how to lead effectively.

    When men are first taught how to dance, they are trained to view the follower's role as purely 'reactive' (ie they create a continuing series of frames that they expect the lady to follow).

    Missing from this knowledge (and most discussions on technique) is the second half of the man's role: they have to follow what the lady has reacted to, to effectively create and lead the next phase of the movement.

    I've always thought that the terms LEAD and FOLLOW are very wrong in the context of ballroom dancing--but by the same token, I realize that those terms are needed in the beginning of one's dance life.

    I think both men's and women's parts require both lead and follow (one part more subtle, the other more pronounced).

    The act of leading in a woman's part is deciding the magnitude of the response to the gentleman (and what the gentleman followed as a result of her response).

    The act of following in a man's part is acknowledging the magnitude of what the woman led the couple into, and adapting the next phase of the lead as necessary.

    The height of the craft is being able to blend the two seamlessly with one's partner.

  9. cornutt

    cornutt Well-Known Member

    Er,... I didn't realize that the ladies here felt like the men are dominating DF so much. Especially considering that there really aren't that many regular male contributors. So maybe I need to pull back for a while. Go ahead, ladies, knock yourselves out.
  10. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    my view as well... there's a listening back & forth... seems to me the man has to be highly responsive and tuned into his follow.

    there's so much information-exchange going on between the two...
  11. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    I wouldn't agree with all aspects of maximus's comment, but I would agree with the central premise, and to me it's basically that the two jobs really aren't all that different. The leader has some floorcraft strategy and phrasing to learn, the follower has bigger shapes and wobblier shoes to contend with, but the basics skills and tasks really are almost the same.

    And yes, you can't lead very well unless you can follow the person you are dancing with.

    I still think that the #1 missing physical skill on both sides is insufficient foot strength move in a way that creates a responsive and compassionate connection to a partner. If your foot can't hold you up in the position that your partner needs, and lower you slowly at the rate that they need, then you cannot accommodate your partner's needs.
  12. madmaximus

    madmaximus Well-Known Member

    Sorry ed,
    Upon reviewing my reply, I realized I hadn't directly answered your Q ('swhat I get for rushing).

    Anyway, I agree with Laura's view (that a number of us men tend to dominate the technical conversation, with some to the point of judging a follow's technical contribution as lacking merit--when it is clearly not).

    Personally, I'd like to hear more of the ladies' technical views.

    Like you, I have noticed the same trend (and we're the poorer for it).

    I often think that if the ladies had a technical voice (or presence?) as strong on this board, we can only benefit from another valuable perspective.

  13. elisedance

    elisedance New Member

    I said the same thing recently - the technical discussions became way to intimidating too fast that I ended up feeling like a 'spanner in the works', as we used to say. I think it relates to the nature of learning to dance for leads and follows. While we all start the same way (steps, holds, etc etc) and we all have to understand to some extent all aspects of the dance, there is no question that we specialize differently - and in opinion, the specialty achieved by followers is misunderstood and also dedicedly under-appreciated.

    When it comes to ballroom it all starts with the lead - even if its only a few milliseconds difference, it still begins with the lead. And most technical discussions are dominated by what the lead and then what the follow have to do. Thats natural. Many of the leads become amazingly proficient at not only doing this but also at discussing it - and yes, maybe there is also a male/female difference with respect to the technical aspects.

    However, the lead is only the beginning of an amazing conversation and expression sequence. As mentioned above by leads (though a bit too assetively and, frankly, even too patronizingly for my taste) both men and women follow - the woman responds to the lead and the man feels this response and adjusts his subsequent actions. However, IMO it does end there - the woman executes actions that end each step or sequence that are beyond the domain of the man. These latter two stages - the response and the 'terminal expression' for want of a better term, are truly the domain of the follower - and when it comes to that specialty its something that the full timers - that is the women - are the experts at. Why do I say that? If not, any man could be led by any other man. Sorry guys although you can follow crudly unless you put a lot of time into it you do not come close to the ability and perfection achieved by the full timers, the women.

    Thats was the reason I originally started 'the follower's thread' - I had hoped it allow and encourage the (full time) follwers to discuss this art - and I know the leads would learn a lot from it. However, as you can see from the reactions here to permit this and to learn from this the leads are going to have to defer and tend to asking rather than declaration.
  14. elisedance

    elisedance New Member

    MM: please note - you wrote your sensitive response while I was writing my doctoral thesis! thanks for that... :)
  15. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    Please allow me to interperate--- spanner == wrench ;)
  16. elisedance

    elisedance New Member

    Oh, I thought it was a wench... :eek:uch:

    Actually, anyone who plays the board game 'clue' should have come accross it as a murder weapon!
  17. Me

    Me New Member

    In the defense of some of the men who chime in with technical opinions, I generally keep quiet because to be quite honest, if the man is dancing properly, we can follow them (if we know how). [​IMG]

    What annoys me is discourse along the lines of: "No, you are wrong. On page 67 of [insert manual of choice] it clearly states the man should commence to raise his eyebrow on the one, not the two. Clearly, you lack a basic fundamental understanding of lead." This is when I want to start hurting people.
  18. skwiggy

    skwiggy Well-Known Member

    It's not so much about domination. It's about being made to feel that what we contribute is wrong. I don't want to have to defend every statement I make, so after awhile I get tired of arguing and just don't bother to make statements in the first place.

    cornutt, I never recall you doing anything even remotely like that. Please don't pull back. Your contributions to the discussions are always constructive and positive. Please keep sharing. :)
  19. skwiggy

    skwiggy Well-Known Member

  20. madmaximus

    madmaximus Well-Known Member

    Actually, it's raise the eyebrows--at end of one :)


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