"Women Have No Choice But to do the Right Thing"

Discussion in 'General Dance Discussion' started by Generalist, Feb 27, 2014.

  1. Generalist

    Generalist Active Member

    I can't stand it in group lessons when the instructor does an impossibly long pattern that no guy on the planet Earth could remember. Of course it will contain weird turns, alternate timing, and unconventional moves. Then he/she says:

    "If you men lead this right, women will have no choice but to do the right thing".

    There are many things that bother me about that myth. For one thing it puts undue pressure on men who could be newbies. It's also very insulting to experienced men who perhaps can't remember gargantuan pattens. Also, it seems to imply that women are merely autonomic machines.

    Why isn't this statement equally valid?

    "If women are given a choice, they will usually screw up".

    But of course these instructors usually say that:

    "Errors are always caused by the leader."

    I think if a successful lead depends on forcing women to do bizarre moves there is something very wrong with the pattern being taught.
  2. davedove

    davedove Active Member

    I think these ideas come up because the instructor needs to "fix" the leader first. Then, if everything is okay with the leader, the instructor can see what the follow may be doing wrong.

    Yes, follows can make an error, usually by anticipating what they think the leader wants to do instead of following.

    There is a lot that depends on the leader, but knowing how to follow is important as well. My biggest peeve are those who state "A good leader can lead anyone." NOT true, it may be easier for them, but the follow still has to do their part.
  3. Bailamosdance

    Bailamosdance Well-Known Member

    As you evolve as a dance, the 'impossibly long' patterns be come easier to conceive of and execute. And the 'weird turns' etc will be welcomed.

    I think the teacher is correct in the context of his/her class, but of course not in all cases - in all cases, it assumes that the follow has the dance education to understand what is led. And, if they are at their dance education level that a group class move looks 'weird' or 'unconventional', they will have this as well as other problems.

    Steps do NOT equal dancing...
    danceronice and atk like this.
  4. Lui

    Lui Active Member

    Following is a challenging action with a lot of technical finesse, when done right. I always wonder why women don’t insist on a class thought by a couple - with a qualified lady teacher that is really helpful.
    Lilly_of_the_valley likes this.
  5. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    well look...I think it is simpler than that...lots of people say sloppy or imprecise things or aren't very considerate in what they say.... or, none of that and the listener is just hypersensitive.... none of those things has to get under your skin unless you let it...if you feel really strongly about it, you can politely address that person privately...

    any real professional knows that a woman can, in fact refuse to follow anything she wants....I usually only dance with superbly skilled men, and I am a good dancer, but I can in fact, refuse to pay attention to their lead or respond differently because of stuff that is in my muscle memory...so sure, the instructor is not completely accurate and probably could have phrased it more deliberately, sensitively and accurately, but I also cannot imagine having something that nuanced irk me overly much...being stressed on a group lesson is a choice...honestly if the people who attend them would just lighten up a bit I might actually go to more of them...these things are going to be a series smooth and not so smooth attempts.....no harm, no foul...and they would be way more fun without the blame game....
  6. Dots

    Dots Active Member

    This kind of sounds like one of the many version of Murphy's Law. I pay serious attention to Murphy when important projects or life and death situations are on the line. For dancing, I take it with a grain of salt :p
  7. ralf

    ralf New Member

    Classes taught by couples are standard practice in the non-ballroom swing world (lindy hop, WCS, and balboa from personal experience). In Lindy, in particular, most of the top instructors are best known by the couples they are a part of: Kevin and Jo, Juan and Sharon, Max and Annie, Chiles and Kristen, etc.
    IndyLady likes this.
  8. danceronice

    danceronice Well-Known Member

    I would rephrase it as if the leader leads it well, the easiest thing for the woman to do is the correct thing. She can always do the wrong thing, but the most comfortable, path of least resistance will be what the lead is leading.
  9. Bailamosdance

    Bailamosdance Well-Known Member

    It's easy to blame the instructor when the instructor moves outside of your comfort zone, but you're there to change that zone boundary, right?
    leee and atk like this.
  10. Loki

    Loki Active Member

    I'm curious what sort of patterns are being taught. Some syllabi tend to prefix a bippity-boppity and append a boopity-bippity to every step, thus making them seem more complex than the actual "meat" of the step.
    I'm also of the belief that even a very skilled lead can't necessarily take a complete novice through everything he can think of. Following requires some skill also.
    Hedwaite likes this.
  11. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Because it's not a very diplomatic thing to say.

    Well, at least "leaders" is gender neutral. Did you register my displeasure about men being asked to pay a cover charge while women get in "free?" (There is no Guys night. But maybe they should have a leaders' night.)

    The conservative guard of Argentine Tango will tell you that the dance requires 100% from both the man and the woman. People who are more in line with contemporary thinking in the US and Europe, and who, I would like to think, have not had a formalized education in dance, would probably use the thinking and vocabulary that you cite, except maybe using the word "follow" rather than "woman.

    And, while Skippy Blair will admonish you if you let on that your partner is to blame for something not working, she also is an advocate of West Coast Swing dancers being "educated," meaning knowing technique and conventions that make things work.
  12. bookish

    bookish Active Member

    The correct action is usually only "easiest" or "most obvious" for the follower if they have actually trained that action.
  13. Jag75

    Jag75 Member

    Uhm - the assumption would be that the follows in that group class will be familiar with the following techniques as well as much of the syllabus (certainly the fundamentals) to get to that class in the first place. Whilst not entirely true that the follow will flawlessly follow a good lead, it should at least be presumed that they can follow in a given group class provided they have developed the skills to get to that class in the first place.

    As an instructor, if I had a dollar for every incident where a lead would blame the follow when in fact it's the lead not leading properly, I would be a wealthy man. I'm not taking about absolute beginners class, I'm talking about a class where the majority of students have been dancing at least a year.
    danceronice and Lioness like this.
  14. Jag75

    Jag75 Member

    My point is - as a lead you should always keep an open mind, and if a pattern doesn't go well, to look at your lead first, and the execution of the pattern. Humility is the source of the most rapid development as a dancer.
    Sania and Larinda McRaven like this.
  15. Hedwaite

    Hedwaite Well-Known Member

    I usually teach the 'common problems' and 'if it's the leader's fault, it's usually this, here's how to fix it. If it's the follower's fault, here's what IT usually is, and now to fix it.' But mostly 'So you're dancing and this happened. Quit crying and keep dancing, this is a dance class, not a Whose Fault Is It Anyway class.'- of course, not (usually) in those words, or "the best thing you can do for your partner is to STFU teaching them."

    God forbid a teacher take the blame for just sucking at breaking something down or teaching something THEY don't quite grasp, also.
    twnkltoz and danceronice like this.
  16. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member



    First.. what you described ,is a " grouping ". A " Pattern/variation " is a single entity .

    The comments you revealed, are adages that seem to get passed down ,and have little or no validity .
    atk likes this.
  17. bookish

    bookish Active Member

    The whole idea of "fault" makes it sound as if the other person doesn't have anything to work on. Which is almost certainly false.

    Granted, sometimes one partner is doing something that stops progress no matter what the other partner does.

    But the language of "fault" implies that once the first partner is fixed, the move works and the situation is resolved, but really, that just allows both partners to go on to the next improvement.
  18. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    Yeah, the idea that "it's always the man's fault" is rubbish. There are times when I'm led into something and I anticipate or presume instead of follow, even with a good leader. I'm just a little too independent for my own good, even after nearly 19 years of partner dancing. Now, a skilled leader can go with it and make something of it instead of stopping or saying "that's not what I wanted" or otherwise letting it be a mess, but that doesn't mean it was his fault I didn't follow.

    But, yeah. Most patterns are designed in such a way that if it's led properly, the easiest thing for the follower to do (assuming she understands the basic tenets of the dance) is to do the correct thing, or something reasonably close to it. It always surprises me when I lead a beginner girl in an under-arm turn or something (where I'm using one hand and there's more room for error), and she resists me to try to go where she assumed she was supposed to go...And then stares at me, because she doesn't understand what's happening. Dude...really? I'm pulling your arm to the right, and it doesn't occur to you that you should probably go to the right? Of course, they're beginners and haven't learned to follow yet, but I would think some of this stuff would be obvious. LOL
  19. Hedwaite

    Hedwaite Well-Known Member

    Have you ever tried to gently yet firmly grasp a person's upper arms or shoulders and try to rotate them? Normal humans move away from the pressure applied to get them to do so, but some people push hard right INTO it- like for parallel breaks, or rotating half of a box.

    I don't WANT to think it, but I do believe that people have been dumbed down and desensitized to subtle mechanics, and I think that people who consume more than a moderate amount of alcohol or even prescription medication on a regular basis are dulled to things unless you actually almost talk down to them like a child. "WHEN MY LEFT HAND- that's the one that's holding YOUR RIGHT HAND- goes UP and OVER HERE, YOU turn UNDERNEATH THOSE HANDS," doesn't even make a dent. They look at you, completely wide-eyed and slack jawed, and you can see that brain-wall just behind there that says your words didn't get over it. We had one student who could not mimic or translate "Step forward ONE step onto your left foot and don't move your right foot. Now, while you're standing on your left foot, point the toe of your right foot to the side of your left foot, but don't step over ont- no, don't step.. wait, over... like.. ah, f*ck it, I need a drink..."
  20. Generalist

    Generalist Active Member

    Group teachers should never assume such things. I have been to large group classes where 75% of the ladies have no clue how to execute even the simplest moves. Then of course, the instructor usually says that if things are led right the pattern will go as expected. They should explain that if the ladies follow right a good lead will give a good result.

    I'll give an example. In a WCS class I attended an instructor said: "Let's begin this pattern with a reverse whip". Fine, but the first ten ladies I got in rotation didn't know how to do a standard whip. They knew nothing about whip timing. No clue at all!

    So, just how would you suggest a guy try to lead these ladies according to the pattern being taught? According to these types of instructors it doesn't matter if the follow knows anything as long as the lead is done right.

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