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

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

  1. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    I find that staement to be overly simplistic and a gneralization that isn't always true dbk...first of all...I always assume that I can be is good dance frame...if, as I come into position, the man wants something more casual, social or not, I will adjust as I have no intention of battling with him...I have danced with pros with horrible frame that has nothing to do with social or competitive setting, I have danced with dancers who I know have every idea of how to dance full out but simply want to enjoy a more relaxed frame...something I loved to do with FP...b/c then it was able to just be a fun dance not having to worry about getting a lesson in a social setting...and in fairness to good leads who don't compete; many times they have to cotned with follows who, without even knowing it, expect to be pushed around b/c they have never learned to move themselves...some of those follows compete, some don't...
  2. dbk

    dbk Well-Known Member

    Yes, yes, exactly, you need to adjust your frame. What I'm trying (and probably failing) to explain is why competitive followers might complain more about being jerked around by social leads, when social follows don't. They're probably expecting one certain kind of frame, and don't adjust to fit the leader and the situation, so they feel jerked around. It has nothing to do with skill level at all, just expectations.

    It's generalized, yes, because I was trying to explain someone's generalized observation on that same subject (competitive followers feeling jerked around). I'm not saying that all competitive followers can't adjust - just that the ones who complain don't realize they need to adjust.

    I have a friend, for example, who is an amazing social dancer - fun, inventive, great lead. But I need to switch off the "competitive" part of my brain, because his frame and movement are just... different. It's not for lack of skill - he learned to dance on the same team I did, and he's been dancing far longer. He can do "competitive" if he wants. He's just primarily a social dancer.

    Another example is my boyfriend, who dances gold smooth/standard. If I give him a competitive frame at a social, it feels awful, because he relaxes his frame at socials. I feel jerked around, because he moves differently and leads just feel different with the change in frame. If I relax my frame, however, it feels just fine, and the dance can be a lot more inventive, playful, and less exhausting than if we had competitive frame.

    If I had little social dance experience, however, and I gave these two guys a typical competitive frame, I would probably feel jerked around. So it's not a skill difference between social and competitive dancers that would cause competitive follows to feel jerked around, just a difference in frame and expectation.

    I hope I'm explaining this well... and I'm in no ways saying I'm 100% right. Just trying to find an answer to wooh's post:

    "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?"
  3. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    look, competitive and social dancing *are* different... the objectives are different overall, but there's still lead & follow involved at the heart of both.

    [i would say that how the dancers appear is far more important (most important) in competition, but with the social dancing, it's primarily about the connection and mutual pleasure. well, some social dancers care more about the appearance, but i've observed that those who value this above the connection & mutual pleasure tend to be much less pleasant to dance with, as they are focused on externals and not really connecting favorably. and they can seem pickier, snobbish, and insecure.]

    social dancing is such a wonderful place to cultivate lead & follow develop the listening and responding to the follower's action that's required in order to be a very good leader. and that "listening" is only going to translate into being more attuned in general on the comp floor. so... i just don't see that the two are really as separate as many like to say.
  4. dbk

    dbk Well-Known Member

    I agree completely! Lead/follow is at the heart of both. If I had to pick the one big difference, it's that the goal of competitive dancing is to look good, while the goal of social dancing is to feel good and play around with your partner. Ideally, you could do both at all times... but we're not all world pros, and some things end up getting neglected :D

    Social dancing was probably the best thing I could ever have done for my competitive dancing. I see so many competitive dancers forgetting (or purposely ignoring) the importance of lead/follow in favor of just routines and technique. But dancing neither LOOKS good in competition, nor FEELS good at a social dance, without lead/follow connection.
  5. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    LoL...well said. :D

    excellent... so true!
  6. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    If a lady's shoulder is getting tweaked, isn't it likely a lack of basics on the her part? To actually tweak a shoulder is totally breaking frame. So if a follower has good alignment, core strength, frame, turn technique etc, it should be kind of rare to get tweaked right? That doesn't mean the dance might totally lack smoothness. Still, there is a huge difference between dancing with a guy who is learning and just isn't very good and getting hurt all the time. I would just suggest Pro-Am is pretty good proof that professional dancers can survive some terrible leads and not get hurt.

    Plus, the difference between following a basic pattern and an advanced pattern often has to do with the complexity of direction and momentum changes. So the more advanced follower has to be able to start one direction and suddenly go a different direction faster than a single beat. She is at the opposite end of Eddie's "Beginner's Hell for Men Dancers" learning curve. If her alignment and turns aren't right on, she creates the jerkiness.
  7. Artemia

    Artemia New Member

    *giggles* I think I'd like to give you guys a chance to dance with this guy before you go blaming me. ;)

    If you're presented with a wholly unexpected experience... like, say, walking down the street and you fall in a hole, what do you do about it? You were still continuing on the planned route (walking) but an unplanned circumstance arose (there was a hole where you were expecting to go!)

    If you're dancing and suddenly your arm is yanked in a direction that it's not meant to bend in, you cannot blame the arm for not bending in an unnatural shape. (Bad arm, joints should move 360 degrees in every direction!!)

    There's no way that you can tell me two things as absolutes -- one that you're an experienced dancer and two that you haven't been presented with a situation where your partner and you have not been completely in tune. If you dance with another person, one of you is going to be more advanced than the other. This doesn't mean that it's the more advanced person's fault when they are injured, does it? You can't predict another person's movements, leader or follower, and mistakes happen.

    I am afraid that this thread has turned into a blame game and has become very offensive to me. It is not my fault my shoulder was injured because the leader I was dancing with felt that it was time to rip me around to turn. I asked for assistance in how to discuss this with the person politely, I did not ask for people to go about blaming social vs competitive dancers, nor to tell me what -I- did wrong.

    I think that if you have issues with social vs competitive lead/follow, you should bring it up in a different thread, one I will not contribute to. As it is, I feel that most of the people in this thread just felt like adding another post to their count by yelling unnecessarily, rather than providing anything constructive to my question.
  8. latingal

    latingal Well-Known Member

    Artemia, I do believe that the posts here have been very civil. I don't think anybody is blaming you, I think most people are trying to provide a well rounded view of the different possibilities.

    Our members normally do not intend to offend, so I would not take it as such. The written word has it's drawbacks because we receive little in the way of body language or tone of voice. Please do try to give others the benefit of the doubt when deserved...
  9. dbk

    dbk Well-Known Member

    For what it's worth, most of my posts were in response to wooh's post. wooh was wondering why competitive followers feel much more jerked around than social followers, in her experience. It was not aimed directly at you, since yours was an individual example, rather than an observation of MANY people.

    In your case, yes, your leader was doing something wrong to hurt you. But if we were to assume that was happening in all of wooh's examples, that would mean (like she said) social leaders are somehow out to hurt comp followers, since social followers don't feel jerked around nearly as much by the same leaders. That's not to say that some leaders jerk around any follower he dances with - like you experienced.

    Everyone is being polite, and no one is attacking you. You're right in saying that this conversation has moved a little off topic from your original question, as so often happens here. But i think that SHOULD have tipped you off, had you read it carefully, that we were not talking attacking you or talking about you.
  10. hereKittyKitty

    hereKittyKitty Administrator Staff Member

    I would talk to the teacher. Perhaps it can be arranged to where you don't have to dance with him. Lets face it, no matter what you do, some dancers don't get it and they try to force the movement (sometimes its the guy, sometimes its the girl). I don't think speaking to this person on your own would carry much weight, unfortunately. If he has a private lesson teacher, you should speak with them. If not, speak with the group teacher. Other than this, the only person you can take care of is yourself. Learn your steps, technique, etc...which it sounds like you're working on this already. Perhaps also you should move on to a more advanced class. There comes a time when dancing with newer dancers hampers more than it helps, because you are trying to advance.
    Ultimately it sounds as if you are pretty serious about your dancing. Which is to be commended. Take care of your dancing, and the rest will take care of itself:)
  11. hereKittyKitty

    hereKittyKitty Administrator Staff Member

    One Idea I had about this is competitive dancers can be more sensitive to arm tension. This is because, for the competitive dancer, strength in the top can lead to imbalance and make the muscles tired sooner and less responsive. Most of the action is derived from the legs/base. However when you are in a crowded social/competitive setting the tendency is to freak out and use the arms much more.
    Fwiw, there should not be tension in the arms in either setting competitive or social. As my coach says: the dance moves the dancer, the dancer does not move the dance:eek:
    She also says:your muscles don't hold you, your muscles move you.
    A good competitive dancer should be able to dance "socially" and dance without tension in the arms. Its just not necessary. Like wise social dancers can dance with good form without tension. Its all possible....In an ideal world!
  12. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    It is important to me that you not think I am blaming you. I am just suggesting that there are ways to protect your shoulders. I suspect there is at least one rough lead at any dance you will ever attend.
  13. Terpsichorean Clod

    Terpsichorean Clod Well-Known Member

    I hope you don't feel anyone is blaming you.
    There have been discussions of social vs. competitive dancing pretty much since the founding of this site. It's nowhere as heated as before, but many members are still pretty passionate about the dancing with which they identify. But as you said, it's off topic. I'm sorry for having contributed to the hijacking of your thread and hope you won't be discouraged from starting future threads. :)
  14. bclure

    bclure Member

    In the classroom situation, I would ask the teacher: "could you please explain the lead/follow for this move? I am feeling..." That is what you are in the class for. If it is him, it can be discussed, if it is you it can be covered also..

    In my classes I spend a lot of time talking to the leaders about what we are doing to the followers, and conversely for the followers, how to protect yourselves.
  15. JohnLL

    JohnLL New Member

    Well I wanted to put my "two cents" into this debate so here goes. My experience with social v. competitive has been that where social dancing is primarily lead/follow, competitive dancing (at least at the higher levels) is more about choreography. Where social dancing can and does result in dancers switching partners many times, competitive dancing is all about dancing with your partner and connecting with your partner. The end result of this (and what I am trying to say I guess) is that a competitive couple ends up looking GREAT together on the floor but those same dancers may have a really hard time simply leading or following at a social dance with different partners. It's nobody's fault but simply differences in what people are taught and how they practice.
    As for the original question that was posted, I have known a couple leaders like the one that is being described and quite frankly, as a leader myself, I would want to know if I was hurting my partner! You can be tactful and nice about telling them they are hurting you or you can simply avoid dancing with that person. However, if all else fails then my advice as a leader is to TELL ME in no uncertain terms that I am hurting you. I may be offended or feel bad but I will feel much worse if I put you in a cast for 6 months.
  16. wooh

    wooh Well-Known Member

    It's so funny, I've got a bit of a mea culpa here. (Oh my goodness, call the news, wooh might be admitting she's wrong!) A few weeks ago, I ended up dancing with a guy in what was supposed to be a mixer, but nobody mixed, so it was literally 9 minutes of waltz or foxtrot. And it was the most uncomfortable frame ever. 3 minutes, I'd have been fine, but 9 minutes hurt. And I could not figure out a way to make it comfortable, and I had, well, 9 minutes to come up with a way. My arm was so twisted back I couldn't get any leverage to push back into a better spot. And relaxing was impossible where it was. Not sure what was going on either, because I've danced with him before, and since, and it was never that weird before.
    But then again, like I said, 3 minutes would have been fine. So I think the solution is don't dance for 9 minutes with anyone. (The DJ got a talking to after that, I mean, when people aren't mixing because well, the announcement apparently wasn't well heard, who leaves the music playing for 9 minutes? What was he thinking?)
  17. TinyDancer109

    TinyDancer109 Well-Known Member

    Agreed. Artemia, you are self-admittedly a newer dancer with 9 months experience. It might be helpful to learn such a valuable skill.
  18. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    This is most definitely not true of skilled competitors (they'd be helpless as teachers if it were) but is instead confined to those who have tried to take a shortcut and misdirected their energy - those who have tried to learn to perform without learning to dance.

    And the problem is not confined to dancing with others. As soon as a couple whose dancing is about a battle of energies moderated by the routine goes up against a couple of comparable individual skill who actually dance with each other as they compete, you see how much performers-only couple is missing.
  19. Oekiwi

    Oekiwi New Member

    Hi Guys,

    Been trolling a little through the forums today and decided to register and post my first post here :D...

    I apologise if I rehash things that have already been discussed - I read a fair bit of this thread but I missed a couple of pages.

    I believe something like this should be handled by the teacher. I know this isn't always easy timing wise, but if you can it is best to talk to the teacher after the class and mention the person in particular. Even say it could be you (adding a little humility ;)), putting yourself in the wrong place but you don't have that problem with other people leading in the class. Before the next class, remind the teacher about the problem and the following "should" happen. The teacher should start the class out with a special section on leading. He/She should then take each guy into practice hold and show them the pressure the partner should feel and also get the guy to lead it to them as well so that they can correct anything wrong. Knowing the person in particular that is causing the problem, during the class while the music is playing they can wander around and "notice" that this person needs a little more correcting and help them get the correct feel. Just as a sidenote, the teacher should also dance with each girl and let them know what they should feel from the guy and what they should be giving them as far as tension (no fish arms... no leading etc). This way no one is singled out apart from when the dancing starts and I can guarantee that this won't be the only guy or girl that the teacher should break up to show them proper leading/following techniques.

    I say this because one of the most common things said (and there is a thread here to prove it) is that "(Why) guys don't dance". Well we are self conscious about it. We (and I am talking from a Australian/NZ perspective) are brought up with the mindset that guys don't dance - we drink and watch sports. You can see the difference when someone from a country where music and movement are more prevalent growing up first starts to dance in comparison to someone who has been brought up with the previous mentioned mindset. If you say something, even though you may be very correct - you are telling him from the perspective of someone who in his eyes is "equal" to you and also - you know something is wrong, but maybe not how to fix it. When the teacher tells him then it is from the perspective of the person who is supposed to be saying when things are right or wrong.

    As a sterotype, dancing does not come naturally to guys (see above for my comments on location differences) and it can be very hard for us to even walk into a place which we have shunned for so long. The girls as a general rule pick the steps up faster which only adds to us feeling awkward and uncoordinated.

    I don't mean this to sound like only the guys ego should be taken care of as this sort of thought should be taken into account for both sexes, but in my opinion this is the answer to the original question. With a little care we end up with more of both men and woman to be able to dance with... and hopefully neither that ends up injurying the other :p

    Oh and sorry for the long first post.
  20. latingal

    latingal Well-Known Member

    Welcome to DF Oekiwi!

    Glad you decided to register and post!

Share This Page