Ballroom Dance > Discussions on following

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

  1. wooh

    wooh Well-Known Member

    What I'm working really hard at following wise (in addition to the good old technique of everything else):
    Stay in or aim for or head towards the guy's right side, unless I'm not supposed to.:) I don't tend to have to stay in the guy's hand, I'm often running off on my own, so THAT isn't a problem for me, as I'm always trying to take his hand with me.:p
    And as far as my dancing in general, countering my own personal bad habits, when in doubt, get down into my knees more, my core probably needs to go forward, my upper body needs to stretch up. When I think of those things, the other things tend to fall into place for me.

    ETA: Forgot my other thing I'm working on. Maintaining a bit more resistance against my partner. I've heard it described in a couple places as that "level 5" resistance. Pressing back against my partner though. I'm not noodly, but I have to work to remember to give that resistance so I'll feel the lead sooner rather than later.
  2. Izzy20

    Izzy20 New Member

    While I have very little experiance in this something my instructer said the other day about following has stuck in my mind. He's always telling me not to think at much. As someone said about dancing with your body. We were do the cha cha and I stepped forword even though my mind told me to step backwards and I thought I had done it wrong but he was like no you were following my lead instead of your own.

    Another thing I do is walk like a duck trying to avoid his feet. lol. :oops:
  3. Laura

    Laura New Member

    The teacher I compete with is a brainiac/analyst kind of guy, and there have been many times when I've done something that really made him happy and he'll stop me and say "whatever you were just thinking about, keep that with you and always do this that way." And more often than not, I'll exclaim "but I wasn't thinking about dance, I was thinking about the Jetsons!" (or something equally silly and non-related to dancing).

    My other teacher makes me think so hard sometimes that I break out in a sweat. I wonder if she's just trying to wear my brain out so I'll give up on thinking.
  4. Gumby

    Gumby New Member

    G is always telling me she can see me think - which is pretty much universally Not.Good.

    And of course she keeps going back to that conversation the three of us had at ADC - in which the pair of you informed me that you both knew a differnt me than I knew. sigh --- think you could arrange an introduction? :(
  5. tanya_the_dancer

    tanya_the_dancer Well-Known Member

    My thought on this is that following is something that sort of impossible to quantify the same way we do with the lead. It is something that has to happen in response to the lead without concious thinking process. If I have to engage in the latter (like - he's leading promenade, I better go to promenade), by the time I finished my thought, I am already too late in my reaction. Which is why all the leaders here can have these analytical conversations about how to lead what, but for the follows there is no such analytical platform.
  6. reb

    reb Active Member

    Yeah, I feel like that often too. I often want to contribute, but don't because . . . .

    That's how I feel about technique discussions in general - I find it near impossible to discuss in a few written words to a wide audience, yet its infinitely easier to discuss with, or learn from, one person who has shared the exact same coaching for a period of time with a common vocabulary, etc.

    and for the record, as a male / lead, when I've writtem similar statements to this, and then am told how I was wrong and that it could be all written in the book, I have just let it go too - but now that I've confessed that, I'm ready for another - go ahead!

    Maybe forums of the future will allow 3D or live demonstrations, but that still won't be the same as the actual touch-and-feel, and doing.
  7. wooh

    wooh Well-Known Member

    There is that definite je ne sais quois quality to following, that's for sure.
  8. wooh

    wooh Well-Known Member

    There was on time it was discussed that your instructor will tell you what you need at the minute. So two students, one can be told, "You need to get higher" while the other is being told, "You need to get lower," to get the EXACT SAME result. The problem comes when someone thinks that because they were told to get higher or lower, EVERYONE needs to go the same direction. I think it's useful to share, "I have to think of it like this... because I tend to..." I don't think it's useful to share, "You are stupid, it says right here that you need to x, obviously any good coach would tell you that."
  9. reb

    reb Active Member

    Sounds like good input/feedback from the ladies / follows. After waiting a moment, and since you did specifically ask for a male / lead input, here's a try . . .

    Keep trying and we'll all get better!

    And it helps to recognize when its sometimes is a bridge too far or we are trying to get more out of a tool than it can handle - particularly when discussing technique which (at least for me) may be too difficult to convey/understand through simple posted words and needs to be learned from an instructor and discovered over time.

    A Latin technique question asked recently comes to mind. As I recall, Angel Hi gave good marks to DancerForLife and Josh (one male, one female, and I'm not telling which is which!) for their replies. How effective was it? Well, it answered the question. Both replies were respectfully offered - and respectfully taken!

    But that is also different than an ongoing detailed discussion of technique. This medium is useful to share, but is insufficient to fully learn dance technique, particularly next-stage concepts (or at least for every person who could possibly learn that way - not everyone can).
  10. Me

    Me New Member

    :shock: Thank you so much!

    Maybe I will change my signature. That would be fun. :cool:
  11. Me

    Me New Member

    Me, too...

    Coach says, "Do push-ups." I say, "*whine* Is there anything else I can do?" He says, "Why yes... more push-ups!"

  12. Me

    Me New Member

    Uh oh. Well... that was... uh... kinda'... me. :D

    I started it. I'm sorry!
  13. Laura

    Laura New Member

    She's the woman in your avatar! Intense, in the moment, strong, with a twist of humor and style. It's the acid green on the sleeves of the dress! :)
  14. waltzgirl

    waltzgirl Active Member

    Honestly, I think DF has gotten much better at technical discussions that are respectful and acknowledge that there may be more than one way to approach technique. It seems to me in recent months that we've all become aware that there are, loosely speaking, different "schools" of technique that may have some fundamental differences in concepts and what they are attempting to achieve. To me, everyone has been less dogmatic recently.

    There is an inherent problem in trying to discuss dancing in writing that will always be susceptible to problems--it is so hard to be clear since most dance teaching is presented in relative terms--what you need to do differently from what you did before. So, for example, the correct amount of tone in the core may feel to one person like "relaxed" abs and to another like "contracted" abs, since it is based on the degree of tone they had before their teacher told them to do something different. So it's easy to get into an argument about whether abs should be "relaxed" or "contracted," when in fact both people have about the same physical state in mind.

    For me, it's hard to talk about following because it is something that has to take place below the level of conscious thought. It's about trained reflexes and trained muscles reacting to a physical communication without the intervention of conscious decision-making (or as Me put it so well, smart body and idiot mind). But, when I'm following really well, my mind is assessing what's going on in a more global way and offering the body general guidance, usually noticing consistent trends in what the lead is doing or realizing some adjustment I can make to make things smoother.
  15. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    I basically agree with you, the only thing I would add is that while immediately and practically about how to lead something, those types of discussions are ultimately about the mechanics of how dancing works, and that's not a topic that really needs to be exclusive to the guys.

    It does leave open the question of what aspects of following can be discussed once the dance mechanics and enabling skills are stripped away. If you internalize all those skills to the point where they are as natural as breathing, what exactly is the "following" thing that is left? When mixing and matching dance figures to noodle around a floor full of lesson trios is as natural as navigating a rush hour sidewalk, what exactly is left to call leading? Is it even dancing anymore, or is it simply living?
  16. reb

    reb Active Member

    So you're saying there is a chance . . . !

    Maybe we're developing/improving our communication?
  17. Laura

    Laura New Member

    When I'm following really well, I feel as if it's the moment before a roller-coaster goes over the first big drop. It's exciting, it's thrilling, time is suspended, I feel strong, I feel what my partner thinks, I go where he goes and take myself further, not knowing what I'm doing. I don't just feel the music, we are the music.

    Then I mess something up and it's all over.

    This is why I dance, for those moments.

    Sometimes the teacher who I compete with and I just dance. He doesn't know what he's doing or what he's going to do, we just have on a piece of music that we both like and things happen and it's wonderful.

    Until I mess something up and it's all over.

    But this is why I dance, for those moments. And lo and behold if one ever happens on the dance floor (it has in the past, but not lately) then I'm going to feel like the Grand Champion Queen of May no matter what placing I get from the judges (and it will probably look pretty damn good on the tape).
  18. DrDoug

    DrDoug Active Member

    Suppose you could arrive at a mental state where just because you mess something up, it doesn't mean the moment is all over? Could messing up, recovering, and going on with the dance all be part of the moment?
  19. Laura

    Laura New Member

    That is the next phase in my personal and dance development :)
  20. Me

    Me New Member

    Well... This can be hard to do when the lead is staring at you like you're an idiot! [​IMG]

    But yes, to echo Laura's reply... I also strive to achieve this and it is on both a personal and dance developmental level. I think that is a very accurate description.

    I think you make a good point. The art of 'covering'... I mean, honestly. What are we as dancers if we cannot do this? Sometimes wonderful things happen when we screw up and 'save' the dance, and this is where roles become blurry... Let's say the follow 'messes up.' What does the lead do, plow through a pattern/routine? No... A good lead does what he knows to 'save' the dance. It could be said that at that moment, the lead is following...

    (and this is where I duck behind something large and sturdy)

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