Social Dancing: Why So Critical?

Bailamosdance

Well-Known Member
I'd hate for my partner to not be active and responsive. Beginners are usually told simply react but more advanced responders are expected to dance. As your dancing becomes more sophisticated your body moves in a much different way, and interaction with your partner from both sides is inevitable.

Showing expression in dancing is much more important than "following". All the good followers that I know would take great exception to somebody told them their role is limited to reaction.
 
But west coast swing (and perhaps hustle as well) has (have) different rules pertaining to lead and follow. There is also an accepted practice known as "hijacking" where the follower can "take over" at any time, usually a brief time for a maximum of one to two measures where she may be allowed to "play." The leader freezes in place to allow her to dance her little solo sub routine for this brief time. Skilled hijackers return the lead at the same beat that they stole it to allow the leader to continue his progress.

But as a ballroomer who also dances WCS, hijackers always surprise me when they steal my lead. But I am nothing if not flexible. The hijackers will always do something "cute" when they pilfer my lead. I enjoy it!
In Argentine Tango, this is called interleading where the woman leads the man to stop so she can do whatever embellishments she wants. The woman needs confidence to stop the man and the man doesn't freak out and assert his ego and override the woman.
 

flightco

Well-Known Member
. Funny. I had a partner who would do this to her students. If she didn't feel a lead, she would stop... cold; sometimes, mid feather, etc. Hysterical... the looks on their faces.
My favorite instructor would do this to me; she would stop cold; my comment was usually, WHAT? I actually loved it, she would only let me move on when we had that part figured out. (Obviously she didn't do this every time or we would never dance and almost always be stopped)
 

twnkltoz

Well-Known Member
In Argentine Tango, this is called interleading where the woman leads the man to stop so she can do whatever embellishments she wants. The woman needs confidence to stop the man and the man doesn't freak out and assert his ego and override the woman.
Something I've been learning as I learn to lead Tango. It's so exciting when my follower hears something in the music and pauses to embellish and I remember to wait for her rather than blindly going through with my plan!
 

twnkltoz

Well-Known Member
My favorite instructor would do this to me; she would stop cold; my comment was usually, WHAT? I actually loved it, she would only let me move on when we had that part figured out. (Obviously she didn't do this every time or we would never dance and almost always be stopped)
I do this when I teach leaders. Once they know the step well enough that I can expect them to lead it, I do exactly what they lead, often exaggerating for comedic effect, so they can see the result of their incorrect lead. It's pretty effective.
 
Something I've been learning as I learn to lead Tango. It's so exciting when my follower hears something in the music and pauses to embellish and I remember to wait for her rather than blindly going through with my plan!
But the key is you have to wait. She has to tell you to wait. Her embellishment is not the lead to wait.
 

Bailamosdance

Well-Known Member
You will find that 'waiting' is more instinctual and not actual. And actually, feeling a partner doing something/anything is a strong cue to react on your side.
 
You will find that 'waiting' is more instinctual and not actual. And actually, feeling a partner doing something/anything is a strong cue to react on your side.
Not in Argentine Tango. A woman's embellishment occurs when she pivots, therefore, she's not stepping so the man shouldn't move. If he moves, he's robbing the woman of her individuality.
 

Dr Dance

Well-Known Member
Showing expression in dancing is much more important than "following".
This depends upon what type of dance it is. For ballroom, especially smooth and standard, following successfully IS the most important thing for a follower. This does NOT however preclude expressiveness or "danceability." As a leader, I simply direct each action. "Following" in ballroom in no way assumes "passiveness." Advanced followers are very assertive when they follow. Example: When I lead a move where I am moving backwards, my follower becomes the driving force. Although she isn't "leading" (directing), there are many instances when she needs to "take the initiative" after she receives her lead. Her initiative can best be served after she "reacts" to my lead. This "he goes, she goes" method goes a long way to "dancing as a couple" or "dancing as one unit" for ballroom.
 

dbk

Well-Known Member
Not really. She was teaching them to lead/maintain a lead during a lesson. Of course, she wouldn't do that during a social dance, or even during a lesson that was not for that purpose. I always thought that it spoke more to her ability to exceptionally feel to follow, though that was not the intent.
Do you mean maintain his posture and correct movement? Then that makes absolutely 110% sense. And posture/movement are definitely important to leading, especially when you're working on having a more sensitive connection. So that's probably where we weren't seeing eye to eye :)

I was more reacting to the way you phrased it ("didn't feel a lead") which is what tends to happen with followers who expect to be dragged through everything instead of putting their own power into the step. Would you agree that "didn't feel the connection" or "felt a lost connection" describes what she was responding to?
 
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Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
I haven't had time to add a bit of information regarding Argentine Tango and the recent direction this thread has taken.

This text WAS on Jennifer Bratt's site www.close embrace.com years ago.

Tango Embellishments

Welcome to a new section just for las mujeres. Scroll down for a general overview of embellishments and how to do them. Or visit the 'Embellishment Tutorials' pages for specific embellishments, drills, and exercises.
Tango Embellishment Tutorials


1. What are embellishments?
Embellishments are little flourishes that the follower does to decorate the steps that the leader gives her. In tango followers are always standing on one leg or the other, never both. The leg that the follower is standing on belongs to the leader. He put her there and it is her job to stay on it for as long as he wants her there. However, the free leg belongs to the follower and she can do whatever she wants with it as long as she is ready to step again when the leader proposes.
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5. How do I find the time to do an embellishment?
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That said, once you become good at an embellishment it should no longer disrupt the lead in any way. You must always be ready to cut an embellishment short, even if you weren't 'finished' and move again. How do you tell when the leader is going to move again after a pause? You will be able to feel that the next step coming if you pay attention to the bodies of good leaders. Usually he will flex his knee slightly (or a lot) in preparation for the next step, or start to move his center forward. You should prepare with him, stop embellishing, and match his movement.

Sometimes leaders will wait for you to finish your embellishment before stepping again. Don't be greedy and bake a whole batch of cookies. Taking more than a couple of beats to do an embellishment looks fake and baroque and doesn't not flow with the music. Not to mention, you are stopping in the line of dance and may be causing a traffic jam behind you!
 

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