The role of the lead and follower in partner dancing – she learned how to dance in 5 minutes.

Many students that come to us are people that have difficulties dancing even after several months of salsa dance classes. Not because they don’t know any steps and figures, but because they simply don’t know what partner dancing is all about. Maybe their instructors forgot to mention it. Partner dancing is like a game. Do you know what the game is a about?

I was teaching a private lesson to a lady the other day. She wanted to improve her following skills and abilities to turn with balance while dancing. After explaining how to create Latin body motion and explaining the concept of connection in partner dancing, I asked her to dance for one song. She seemed nervous and the dance did not flow very well.

When the song was over, she told me she was uncomfortable going out salsa dancing because she has low self esteem and feel very insecure on the dance floor. She said that whenever she is out dancing, she is worried about not remembering or knowing any of the moves she has learned. She continued: “It does not help when the guy who is leading does not do a good job”.

I said – “well sure, if the lead is terrible, it is hard to feel sure about what to do.”

She continued to tell me that last time she was out dancing, she noticed that the man she was dancing with seemed unhappy with the way she was following. The man did not even follow her off the floor, she felt he was rude. He then went on to dance with another girl. “But this other girl must have known his moves, because she had no problems following” she said.

“I understand” I said, “but I don’t think that the other girl knew his moves. In fact, I don’t think she even cared what moves he was going to do at all! You see, the worst thing you can do as a follower is to think that you are supposed to do something.”

Your problem does not come from how you move, it comes from how you understand the dance. The reason you don’t follow so well right now is that you are not trying to be following, you are trying to be doing. And you are not alone. Many men don’t know what leading means. They think they are the leader of the lady but in reality they are supposed to serve her.

Partner dancing is not about two people trying to create beautiful movements for those who are watching. Partner dancing is about the man (the lead) giving the lady (follow) an experience, much like when you take a ride in a amusement park.

It is fun to dance alone, but a gentleman can give a lady a dance experience that is impossible to achieve while dancing solo.

I see it like this: As a man it is my honor that the lady allow me to dance with her. It allows me to have a conversation with her, getting to know her without having to speak a single word. If she can just keep the rhythm of the music, I can lead her body while she enjoys the music AND the movement of her body that was created by me. My gift to the lady is that I make her body flow across the floor, towards me, away from me, and maybe even with some turns. In return, the lady will receive my gift, allow the movement to happen and maybe even add her own touch as a decoration.

I took her hand and asked her to dance again and said “This time – don’t expect to do anything, just expect to receive an experience that hopefully feels much more fun than dancing alone. Instead of actively moving, observe how it feels when I make your body fly across the floor. Replace your desire to do with just observing. Following is about happening not doing.

She was dancing amazing and we both had great fun!

Men: Dancing is not about you using the lady to look cool. Don’t try to be her master. Think of her as a princess or a queen that deserves to be in the company of somebody who respect her – you! You should give her a nice experience that put a smile on her face.

Ladies: When following, don’t act like a servant who is trying to make the man or those watching happy. Act like a spoiled princess who demands a smooth, clear lead before you move anywhere! You deserve the best!

When both are clear about their roles, the dancing can become a magic experience.

Salsa dance style

Salsa dance style

Salsa dance style

Author: Erik Roland

Author: Erik Roland

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