Ballroom Dance > How to tell someone they're a bad leader... tactfully?

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by Artemia, Jul 29, 2009.

  1. ireniecat

    ireniecat New Member

    That's an excellent suggestion!!
  2. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    quite agree
  3. Artemia

    Artemia New Member

    Oooh very good idea indeed.

    In this case I wouldn't want to stop the group class (there had to be like 20+ people in the class, awesome.. and I don't want to embarrass him) but it's a good idea to see if there's even a way I can minimize impact IF he leads it like that, until he learns.

    I may or may not go to the studio tonight since my shoulder is causing me to be a hypochondriac (I don't think it's really hurt, you guys are just pitying me so I seem to be feeling invisible pain) but if (when) I do I'll ask the teacher from the class last night a bit more about the move.

    Maybe it's just my luck with that move, I've managed to poke a guy straight in the eye trying to do the arm styling with the peekaboo... he never leaned in towards me again! :p
  4. wooh

    wooh Well-Known Member

    Well here's my response to the "spin-off" thread:
    Spin-off: How to tell someone they're a bad follower

    As for a partner injuring you, I've had my bad shoulder (from old basketball injury) get sore before, but unless you're letting the guy dip you or flip you (in which case, stop letting him do that), some of the injury can be avoided by protecting your arms and toes. Dance instructors dance with these "dangerous" guys all the time, and they aren't living in constant arm braces and bandaged up like zombies because they protect themselves. If you're getting regularly "injured" then maybe you need to take a lesson to learn to protect yourself. Since I've learned to hold the right amount of tension in my arms, my shoulders have remained safe, even my bad shoulder. With one exception, that being the time it was an old guy, and I was trying to be nice and go where he wanted instead of where he'd actually lead me. So my body and arm were going two different ways. If I'd gone where he'd lead, I'd have been ok.
  5. DL

    DL Well-Known Member

    Oh, I *almost* totally agree.

    But I so worry about that word, "flip". See my first post ever on DF:

    Chicago Suit Charges 'Negligent Dancing'

    My second was over 8 months later, 2 posts further down.

    I still have no experience at all with that in dancing, but I still can't help but take the view that one is operating under entirely different rules once people's feet start to come off the ground. Happily I've also never seen this happen at a social dance, ever -- although one local venue feels the need to remind people at the beginning of every evening to not do it.


    And also, while followers can do much to protect themselves against arm-cranking and the like, this absolutely does *NOT* absolve leaders of the responsibility to make it a non-issue in the first place. And, it's everyone's job to raise it as an issue when it happens, so that everyone can stay safe and have fun.
  6. wooh

    wooh Well-Known Member

    I just do a LOT of social dancing. A whole LOT. And it always seems to be the people that rarely social dance have the excuse that their arms are getting pulled off. And I'm thinking to myself, how bad is their luck that when they dance socially 1% as much as I do, that they're meeting 10000% more dangerous leaders? I'm not saying that arm cranking doesn't sometimes happen, but I've got to think that sometimes us girls are doing something that makes them crank them. Holding them funny or what, I don't know. I just don't understand how i can dance so much more with men that aren't pros than a lot of the women here (being a social dancer through and through) and not run into this much more often if it's really that big of a problem? Obviously, the plural of anecdote is NOT data, but it just doesnt' make sense to me that it's that common, unless the social dancing men are just out to destroy the competitive dancing women? Like they all of the sudden turn on their crankers when they see fake tan residue?:)
  7. DL

    DL Well-Known Member

    Well, but by the same token, some leaders who dance only a little, end up cranking far more arms than leaders who dance a whole lot. Are they just unlucky and getting followers who don't know what's what?

    Some time ago, I once yanked an arm badly in a cha cha group class, in a syncopated new yorker. Yes, my partner, had she been more skilled, could have avoided that. But the same could be said of me, and there she was with a hurt arm, anyway.

    Incidentally -- will it not tend to be the case that experienced dancers will have more dances with other experienced dancers, than newbies will? That probably skews extrapolations that could be made from your anecdote, I think.

    Anyway, I just think that yes, followers should learn to protect themselves, but also that yes, leaders likewise should strive to avoid potentially causing injury.
  8. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    A leader may find that his subtle lead is not being "heard" the follower, so he may feel he has to amplify...
  9. chica latina

    chica latina New Member

    I think there is no good way to criticize your partner. If you're social dancing, you know you are putting yourself out there to dance with different leaders.. and some may be too strong/disconnected, etc... best thing is to ask your teacher how to prevent it when it does occur.
    I dont social dance anymore but when I used to I got some discomfort after going to some salsa clubs. I personally just drop my arm tension to 0 and try to do whatever he wants even if it's off time or wrong direction... don't fight it, so it will not hurt..

    but remember... we are all there to dance and have a good time, not to be criticized (is not a lesson)... how can you be certain it's the leaders fault and not that you had too much tension in your arm/body? There are not enough men brave enough to dance and if we give them too hard of a time, they may not ask you again... unless you prefer that for the sake of not getting injured ;)

    By the way... I've seen men fingers that got swollen amazingly after dancig w some ladies who grab them and twist them during turns... so we all do damage!! :)
  10. DL

    DL Well-Known Member

    BTW, I keep myself from being hurt in this case by, among other things, never letting the follower grab just one finger. I also usually have another hand free that I can use to stop her rotation if it seems like a dislocation is imminent.

    (So that coin has two sides too. But THANKS for being aware of that "gotcha".)
  11. Artemia

    Artemia New Member

    We have another salsa class at the studio tonight. I don't think we'll be in the same group class as thankfully I'm a higher level than he is, but I will be keeping out for a way to bring this up as I am worried not only about myself but about others. Paranoia perhaps but my shoulder just seems to be feeling better today and that's far too long of a time to heal when nothing should have happened in the first place.

    As for the question of whether he feels the need to whip the arm around because I don't know the steps, in this case I have to say that's not true and I can't imagine where he might have learned that, because his teacher would know the steps as well. I can do that step in my sleep, with styling, and if he figures the slight delay in the turn is enough to whip my arm around.. well.. I don't think his mind moves fast enough to keep up with that. (Also, since we're doing this pattern as part of the class... if he doesn't think I know it's turning time I have to wonder what he thinks we're doing.)

    But yes, silly response on my part. I really appreciate all of the insight and even if I do choose to avoid dancing with him (which I will unless he comes up and stands in front of me and I'm not able to grab another partner quick enough) I will still look into who his teacher is and mention the concern regarding my slight injury.

    Thanks and keep the discussion coming, of course!
  12. dbk

    dbk Well-Known Member

    I'm primarily a competitive dancer -- not an amazing one, but I might have an answer for you. As a competitive dancer, I'm used to having my frame big, light, and always in the same place. It has to be big and always in the same place in order to take up space and look good for competition. That means it also needs to be light, or we will get tired almost immediately holding it up/big and mostly stationary. Social dancers don't need or want their frame to be big or always in the same place, so it doesn't have to be light. Leads also need to be a little heavier, so any follower can follow regardless of experience or familiarity with the leader. So a competitive follower is going to feel cranked/pulled when his frame moves around or if his lead is heavy.

    Competitive leaders also train to make sure they're not pulling their partner inwards with their right hand, because this can shrink the frame, pull the follower off balance, and ruin the leader's right shoulder position. Social leaders tend to pull inwards this way... it's not "wrong," just a different frame for different goals. Competitive followers can make it worse if they're not used to the position/frame (used to stretching left more, having their partner's hand/body in a different place, etc.) by not returning that pressure, which inevitable makes the leader pull harder to find the connection.

    There's also another issue/example... please, please don't take this as an insult, but social dancers almost never do promenade right... or at least "competition right". When a leader jerks me into promenade using hands/arms and not his back, e.g. pulling/extending his left arm further left, that counts as cranking my arm in my book. Everyone starts out leading promenade this way, but competitive dancers have spent hour and hours and hours training to do it a completely different way. This might just be social dancers in my area, and your mileage may vary.

    I love social dancing, and please, god, don't think I'm hating on social dancers. It's just that social dancing can have a different frame, and it does feel like being jerked around if you're used to competitive dancing. At least, that's my opinion... I'm not exactly an expert :D
  13. dbk

    dbk Well-Known Member

    As someone I think mentioned, the best way to avoid injury is to let your arm go completely slack... it's harder to pull muscles if they're not tense. Fighting the pressure might make him push harder.

    And hey, you never know. Maybe he will notice your connection disappearing on that step, ask you, and you can flat out tell him "because you're turning my arm funny and it hurts."
  14. ireniecat

    ireniecat New Member

    You're probably on to something, dbk, with the social/competitive frame comparison. I'm also primarily a competitive dancer, but when I dance socially (especially with my dad and grandfathers at family parties... they are all considered good dancers by my family), I have to completely disregard what I consider a "proper" frame in order to enjoy it. I just completely loosen up and let them lead how they want.... and it works out! But until I realized to do that, I always ended up fighting them.
  15. j_alexandra

    j_alexandra Well-Known Member

    So, it's not just me. I feel so much better now -- thanks!
  16. New in NY

    New in NY New Member

    I am just a beginner, so actually none of us in class are good leaders or followers yet! Personally, I am happy to get feedback from a leader, so long as it is said politely, because it helps me to be a better dancer. At this point, most of us in the class are comfortable enough with one another that we try to give each other pointers from the perspective of the other dancer. Many of the leaders even will ask if the lead was clear enough, etc. But in this case, I would either speak to the teacher privately and ask if he/should could work with the dancer, or use the method mentioned before of calling over the teacher and putting the focus on you: "I just don't get this step, could you help us?"
  17. pinkstuff

    pinkstuff Member

    Had a similar experience to original poster recently and still nursing the injury. I knew that Lead & I don't "mesh" on the dance floor before agreeing to the dance but usually don't like to say no as feel rude. I think the combination of poor timing and a recent lesson on Alemana turn leads resulted in him yanking my arm around with the resulting shoulder injury (I was still stepping across & not ready to turn). My current technique to avoid further injury is to just ask if we can stick to basics, no turns and that way we seem to get by. I don't like to turn down some-one who asks so I think this way we are both happy.
  18. Terpsichorean Clod

    Terpsichorean Clod Well-Known Member

    I think it's more of a good vs. bad dancer than a competitive vs. social dancer thing.

    -keeping the frame "light, and always in the same place"
    -providing enough space with the leader's right arm
    -correct promenade
    These are characteristics of good dancers, whether social or competitive.

    -heavy leading (all the time)
    -pulling with the right arm
    -chicken wings
    These are characteristics of bad dancers, whether social or competitive.

    -having a big frame
    -taking up space
    These, I think, are more characteristic of competitive dancers. Though you'll see it in social dancers, who have competition-oriented teachers, and are still figuring out how to scale things down.
    I'm sorry you have that impression of social dancers. I hope someday, maybe you can come out here (or Atlanta ;)) so we can give you a better impression of social dancers. :)
  19. soshedances

    soshedances Active Member

    Yup. Also fits in with CANI's thread on not-differences between competitive and social dancers. A good dancer is a good dancer no matter what their goals are. :D
  20. dbk

    dbk Well-Known Member

    I think what I said came out a bit wrong... I don't mean that social dancers are worse than competitive dancers. It's just different. If you approach a social dancer expecting competitive frame, you will feel jerked around. That's why so many competitive followers feel jerked around by social leaders, when social followers don't. Competitive followers need to learn to relax their frame in social situations, because competition frame doesn't work well on a crowded social floor.

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