Ballroom Dance > Discussions on following

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

  1. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    I,m typing this slowly, because i know you cant read fast ;)
  2. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    Do you prefer the left eyebrow on one, or the right?
  3. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    Maybe purely for following (social dancing). But when we're practicing for competition you should hear how much Skwiggy and I complain to each other about how not-relaxed we have to be. ;)

    IMO, the reason for the male domination of such conversations as this is that following is a skill very much on the "feeling" side of the thinking/feeling spread, whereas leading is a skill more on the "thinking" side. It's harder to write about (physical) feeling than it is about thinking.
  4. skwiggy

    skwiggy Well-Known Member

    I agree that following is more of a feeling or abstract concept and therefore difficult to explain in words. But since everyone seems to be playing nice in this thread, I'll give it a shot.

    This is all in the context of Standard.

    First a bit on responsiveness...

    I agree that often times one needs to effectively turn off their brain in order to follow well. But not the whole thing necessarily, only certain segments of it. ;)

    And following can happen on autopilot, just going on feeling. But active, dynamic following is a collection of learned responses. The example was given of how we don't have time to think about going to promenade until we're there. But that doesn't mean that we go to promenade exactly where the man puts us. If we are just passively following the position we are likely to end up somewhere in an incorrect or less effective space. We feel the thing we have come to recognize and feel as promenade without needing time to think about it, and respond with the learned reaction of what our best and most effective promenade position should be.

    As follows, we cannot think of what step is coming next. But we can think of what direction is coming next, based on the set up from the lead. Based on which side is forward, the direction we're moving, etc, we can take the feeling and run with it. We don't have to wait for the actual lead where the figure matures in order to dance it actively, because that would be too late to do anything more than the passive autopilot follow.

    Now a bit on encouraging the man...

    People speak of the follower being light, and providing the invitation to move. I see these qualities as all being part of the one of the main themes of my job as a follower -- to make the man's job easier. I constantly feel like I am trying to lift him up and encourage him to move and give him all the space he needs to do it while remaining reliably available for him to lead in a favorable relationship to him and position. And in doing these things for him, I am actually making my own job easier. In trying to lift him up and encourage him to move, I improve my own stretch and movement.

    And finally, enhancement...

    Another big part of my job as a follower is to enhance the actions created by the man. This is the "flowering" people speak of. The thing they're talking about when they say things like, "the lady is the picture and the man is the frame", "the lady is the flower and the man is the stem or vase", "the man is the painter and the lady is his brush". So when I'm given the lead to stretch, I try to take as much rope and I can and dance that action to my fullest capability. I don't wait for the man to lead me to stretch fully, I feel him give, and I start to take. And ideally, since this is an interactive thing, he feels me take and that encourages him to give more. So I take more. So he gives more. I try to take the direction he gives me and make it as big and beautiful and dynamic as I am able.
  5. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    I'm sort of just jumping in...but I saw this thread title and couldn't help myself. Two weeks ago I went to a dance lesson and the instructor was talking about following and said..."one always delays ones response a response to the guy's lead..." That dumbfounded me. I saw what he showed and didn't like it...even though the delay was almost imperceptable. And this guy has taught ballroom and swing and other dances for years. He also teaches some classes at the university etc. Has a masters degree etc.

    I have learnt that one signals before the move..prepping the follower so that a delay is not necessary...which is why we place importance on connection and paying attention to one's partner. Am I totally off base?
  6. elisedance

    elisedance New Member

    In my - maybe - naive view, the energy starts from the floor and goes through the man then connects almost impreceptibly to the woman and flows through her to her generally to the tip of her head (in standard) - though it can be a foot or any extremity I suppose in the other ballroom forms. I agree with your instructor in that there is a delay but it is the delay between two ripples in a pond - one can not identify where precisely the delay occurrs - there is no abrupt step in timing.

    IMO this is what gives ballroom its emotional expression and what I aim for...
  7. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    let me give you the famous quote by Irvine when asked" what is Bobbie like to dance with "--

    his reply---------- "A ghost "
  8. Ithink

    Ithink Active Member

    Funny my partner was *just* asking me to be more relaxed in our last practice because I was working on a lot of stuff from our (or was it "my") previous lesson and thus concentrating extra hard and not being relaxed enough...

    I think there is a fine line between lax and stiff and I actually do call it relaxed. If you are not relaxed you cannot move your body freely, respond to lead or follow effectively and quickly enough, and in general make your dancing look effortless which is what we're all striving for. I think as a follower I need to have tone in my body to ensure that I know where my weight is at all times and not wobble around searching for my place in the partnership. However, I cannot have so much tone that my body just becomes stiff and unresponsive.

    So I agree with Sam: I think that hitting that fine line most of the time is the goal.

    TT: funny, but I think that's what I am working on from my last lesson - being more of ghost to my partner than I was before:)
  9. skwiggy

    skwiggy Well-Known Member

    I think you should not be stiff or tense, but I wouldn't call it relaxed either. If you move and stretch to your maximum, you will be working HARD, and therefore can't be what I would call relaxed. But hopefully doing so without unnecessary stiffness or tension.

    When I feel like I'm dancing to my maximum, I get tired and out of breath much quicker. :)
  10. samina

    samina Well-Known Member


    love it... beautifully stated. inspires me to go deeper into that synergy & really maximize...
  11. elisedance

    elisedance New Member

    Well TT, has he gone down in my estimation.

    Got any others? How about the famous one:

    "the man dances and the woman gets out of the way..."

    I think what drives me nuts in the technical discussions here is not the depth and detail (though I admit I don't understand a lot of it) but the descriptions that are basically in agreement with the quote above. Ballroom dancing to me is first and formost a conversation between a lead and a follow. You can not converse with a ghost, a ghost simply does not impede your actions. The Irwin quote sounds awfully like the one above - and, IMO, sounds arogant. You can not describe it without considering not only the initiation of steps and actions and spectacular sequences but in terms of that conversation. The men who subscribe to the above seem to have no idea to what extent it is the follower who makes the couple work as an artisitic expression and not just as an effective machine.
  12. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    yes... relaxed but active
  13. Ithink

    Ithink Active Member

    Since this is a following thread, I will say this: I think being very tired and out of breath is a sign that someone is working too hard, that the work in the partnership is unbalanced, that someone is pulling too much weight, as they say, and someone is not pulling enough. When I stretch a lot and my partner does the same, it all feels very easy. When he doesn't (or I don't and he does), I am sore as hell:)

    When I think of the word relaxed, I think of things being easy, of things happening naturally because each partner is doing their part correctly and fully but not overdoing it to compensate for the other. There have been times when I finished dancing 2 minutes of waltz in a round and I was not out of breath at all and the dancing felt great, moved very well, was very balanced; and there have been times when I was left gasping (or my partner was left gasping) because we were working so hard at keeping things together or one of us wasn't doing enough leading the other to overcompensate.

    I've never seen Katusha, Alessia or Anna Mikhed (or their partners) look out of breath after they have danced and I wouldn't say they weren't dancing to their maximum:)
  14. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    He tends to come across that way-- but -- no one can deny his accomplishments and dance mastery, plus his understanding of the subject at hand.

    You have to look a little deeper into the meaning-- he was trying to convey how effortless the process was made, by her prescence . ( but still arrogant in other ways ! )
  15. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    This is quite frequently more a "stamina " problem ,and usually becomes quite evident in many comps during the final rounds-- altho the above could be a contributing factor .
  16. skwiggy

    skwiggy Well-Known Member

    I think that both members of the partnership have to work hard individually in order to make things easy collectively. And I think the reason why you never see those top ladies out of breath is a combination of the fact that they are all in excellent shape and are great at hiding how hard they are working to make it look easy.

    Granted, if your partner is doing more you can achieve the same things with less individual work. But I still think to push one's limits is hard work. Whenever I'm so relaxed that it's really that easy, I know I'm not doing nearly enough.
  17. Ithink

    Ithink Active Member

    TT: I agree with your deeper meaning. I think a lady can also feel her partner as a ghost, meaning he's not manipulating her but letting her dance her own body, her own weight and be on her own balance. That's what I see a ghostly presense rather than saying a ghost means she or he doesn't exist. Quite a few men who've danced with Lyn Mariner in a lesson have said that it felt like she wasn't there but man was she ever:)
  18. skwiggy

    skwiggy Well-Known Member

    This is also interesting because I know in offline discussions with Ithink we have discussed that I am always taught to do MORE, MORE, MORE, and she is always taught to do LESS, LESS, LESS. I'm not sure if that's a result of where we're starting from and the corrections we have to make, different coaching, or a combination of those.
  19. Ithink

    Ithink Active Member

    Yes, they are all in excellent shape but you take an olympic sprinter or a marathoner who in equally excellent shape and make them ballroom dance, and their being in shape is irrelevant until a) they acquire the technique that these ladies have AND b) until they acquire partners that these ladies have.

    I would argue that it IS easy for them to dance because there is no fighting involved and there is adequate help on the other side:) Hard work to me implies stress on your body. I would argue they don't feel stress...
  20. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    Trying to describe lead/ follow and all the ancillary parts, is akin to describing an elephant to a blind person .

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