Have you been struggling with leading your partner through dance steps? No matter what you try, when you are waltzing, doing the tango, dancing salsa, doing the two step, slow dancing or trying to swing dance, your partner never seems to know what figure you are trying to lead? You are not alone, many face this challenge when learning how do dance. What have probably discovered is that it is more than simply learning the figures. There is more to leading and how to dance. Let me tell you what it is so that you can start leading better now.
Step 1 - do you know your own figures?
I assume that you do. Usually when one starts to wonder about how well they lead it is when one knows the figures, but something is still not working. That's what happened with me. I knew the dance steps, I assumed that meant I knew how to dance, but evidence suggested the opposite. Still, it is wise to double check that you do indeed know the figures. If you are certain that you do, then read on; you're ready to take the lead.
Step 2 - who are you dancing for?
Much of leading comes from mindset- that's what turned it around for me. Once I took on the perspective that I was there to ensure that person I was dancing with was comfortable, able to perform their figures with ease and knew what I was leading, my ability to lead started to improve considerably.
Next time you're about to dance, anything from slow dance to Jive, think about who you are dancing for not just how to dance.
Step 3 - do you know the follow's steps?
This is something that has helped me. Just because you are the lead, you don't need to ignore the follow's steps. By learning these you not only know what the follow needs to do, but you then appreciate what is and is not hard about following. When you know this, you gain a greater appreciation of what a follow needs. From that you will gain a better intuition on how to lead.
Step 4 - expand your awareness
The follows on from who you choose to dance for and knowing the follow's dance steps. Once you have these 2 sorted, you are ready to expand your awareness to the follow. When your awareness expands like this, you will almost feel like you are not leading, but simply moving. It is a little like riding a surfboard, a motor bike or a horse. You get that sense of connection, but this time it is with a person so it's more intense. There are 2 things you can do to expand your awareness, which is a key to how to dance.
Step 4a - visualise
When you lead a follow, imagine what you expect to happen next. Doing this in your head as you practice dance moves alone can also help. If you can "see" where the follow is and what they are doing, even if you're not looking at them, then you will have a better understanding of how to lead them. This is ideal for when you do a fan in rumba or cha cha or maybe a back to back in jive or swing.
Step 4b - feel
This is the same as visualising, but you focus more on what you feel. Try to feel your follow, where they are moving to and where their weight is. This is especially ideal for slow dance, tango and waltz where there is a lot of body contact.
Step 5 - Do you know what a "strong" lead is?
This is something that seems to arise from the differences in the way men and women talk and that usually women file while men lead. I recall myself and other men thinking that if their leads were any stronger, then they would be lifting their partners and carrying them around the dance floor. Men often think of strength as a physical thing. Women usually mean clarity when they talk about strength. Much like a strong signal in communications, not matter the surrounding noise, the message is clear. When leading think more about clarity, direction and goals than about physical strength.
Leading is a major part of how to dance. It requires more than dance steps. You need to become more aware of the follow and be clear with what you want â€“ not forceful. This is true of all dances, two step, slow dancing, samba, salsa, foxtrot and all the others. Once you focus on understanding the needs of the follow, you awareness will increase and you will naturally take the lead.