I have a question concerning the use of the terms Leader and Follower based on an article by one of the experts. They in the International Standard Style condem the use of the words Leader and Follower. It says that the Leaders steps , style and so on will suffer. We cannot think of two things at the same time. Its not possible. And with leading uppermost in our thoughts our own dancing will suffer. What is the answer. Is it that the followers should be called a Dancer and should know their own steps and not to be pushed or forced into their dance steps. Is it that some studios go overboard with their teaching and try to teach too much too soon. I was at a lecture where this former World Champion said that if he were introducing a new group into his dancing. He would practise it for three months before bringing it to the competition floor.
that sounds asinine. If a couple are going to dance together someone has to initiate the moves. The dancer/follower can't do their steps unless they are given the signal to do so, thus they are following the other person's lead.
That seems very strange. Can you cite a reference so we can see exactly what "they in the International Style" say? I learned American Style first, but for several years I took lessons from an instructor who taught only International, and I never heard him say anything like that. In fact, many times he said things like "How do I get her to do ___? Because I lead it."
In Foxtrot (American or International), for example, if I step forward on my left foot while beginning to turn left, I might be starting any of several figures. My partner can't just do the steps because she knows what's coming next (and if she's simply doing memorized steps we aren't dancing together). I have to communicate to her what's coming next. I have to be able to lead, and she has to be able to follow (which in my opinion is harder).
While thinking of how to dance the pattern being danced, the leader also has to think of what pattern will follow it, and also has to be aware of other couples on the floor. And did I mention listening to the music? Whether that is actually thinking of two (or more) things at the same time is a subject for those who study how the brain works, but that's what you have to do.
O.K. I would like to read the article to which you refer. Regardless of whether I'm dancing Standard with my competition partner or my wife, such things as the decision of which figure to dance or our alignment falls to me as the male partner. However, leading is much more than this. At every instant throughout each figure my partner needs to understand what is to come next. I suppose you may label the roles anything you like.
I can appreciate the notion of not thinking of two things at once and when forced to consider what I actually do while dancing, I do not "think" specifically about leading. For me, the process is more like allowing my partner to do the correct thing rather than making or forcing her do it.
When preparing for competition we do choreograph a sequence of figures but there is no way we can simply "dance our own parts by rote" and be successful. Traffic often compromises perfect alignment or requires modification of a practised sequence. It becomes my task to "lead" alternate figures. There is a huge amount of learning required to dance well in all situations and it is certainly possible to try to teach too much too soon. For me, good technique is of much greater value in coping with the demands of a crowded floor than is any specific notion of lead and follow.
I have heard coaches talk about this before. I can't speak for this particular article that you read, but usually what these coaches are getting at is that if a lead gets too wrapped up in the act of leading (i.e. "making" the girl do something), it is easy for him to break his frame in order to shove the girl into position, or in some other way sacrifice his own line/movement in order to "lead" the girl. In the case of the ladies, sometimes they won't go unless the lead is "perfect" or forget that they need to be pro-active about their own posture and movement within the framework of the lead.
Ultimately, this is all just semantics, and I don't think most people actually believe that there is no lead and follow. It is just that by putting the focus back on your own body actions and lines, you often often lead or follow more effectively. This is not always true, of course, but as dance teachers, we assess our students and sometimes over-correct in order to break a bad habit. In the case of writing an article, this teacher may have encountered a very high percentage of couples that look like they are arm wrestling rather than dancing and was inspired to address the topic in the best way they saw fit.
I haven't read the article but I am going to guess what was meant is that the two partners should be equal in the movement...if you think about it the woman does lead sometimes....whenever she is going forward and her partner backwards which does happen in the course of a dance...but the partners should balance each other...move together, create powerful movements across the floor which means one can't be dragging the other. But if nobody is leading...then how will you stop if another couple is in your way? Do you just charge forward like a mindless beast doing a series of steps you have memorized but don't do with heart? Because that is what this boils down to...if there is no lead then there is just choreography that two people have learned to do simultaneously and in that case what is the point of ballroom dancing in the first place?
I think you are getting "leading" and "manhandling" mixed up. Just because you lead doesn't mean you have to manhandle. Most ladies do not like to be manhandled. I do know of one who likes a very strong push and/or shove in the right direction. Sometmes when we dance together she'll miss my lead, get upset with me and tell me to push her harder or pull her harder. I refuse to get rough with her because that is not how the steps are "lead." She needs to learn how to follow the real lead not just be pushed and shoved around.
I know of no one in the international style that condemns the terms 'leader and follower'. Anyone who knows anything about dance understands the terms. It is beginners, especially women, who get all insulted when told they are the follower. Okay then, use 'facilitator'. Changing the terms is just stupid in my opinion. The 'follower' can not decide where to go or what to do. They have enough to do just interpreting what the leader wants. That being said, the follower must know her steps. She has to know how to do a heel turn if she wants to dance international foxtrot. There is no way around it. When women want to be pushed or pulled, it is because they don't know any steps and don't want to spend the time or money needed. They are heavy and unresponsive and good dancers don't want to dance with them. They never have a partner and come to our studio demanding that we find one for them that is "a strong lead". They won't dance with a beginner because that would require work.
Heres a concept for all to consider ; in real terms, the MAN is the " follower.
He suggests/initiates a direction, the lady commences to move, to create space into which the man may "step " . Its a law of dynamics; if a "force meets a stationary object, then theres a split second ,when that " force ", is " arrested", before allowing it to continue in its designated direction ( the created space by lady (in fwd directions , for e.g. ).
This, of course, is predicated upon the dynamic, caused by the "leaders "motion from the core .
Let me put my two cents in. In this discussion one should differentiate between social dance and competitive dance.
When I social dance and I get a complement you are a good strong leader or something of that sort, I know I was over-leading, pushing and shoving. However, as there is no set chorography in social dance, the lead has to be more definite, even with ladies who are good followers.
I knew one social dance teacher who actually demonstrated forceful how to shove the lady-partner around. But, she could teach almost anyone, who never danced, walking in from the street to the studio, in 6 weeks, actually dance, not well, but following the rhythm of the music and not stepping on the partners feet.
Of course when it comes to competitive dancing big force is a no-no. The judges immediately see that and downgrade such couple, and they look at them negatively as well if a couple does the opposite, which happens often in pro-am competitions that the male-student is not leading, but waits for the pro-lady to lead.
The leader must initiate the move and the follower, as Brian Watson tells us in one of his video instruction, hopefully decides to join me in the move.
There is a special harmony when the man initiates and the lady follows arriving at the same time. Of course, there are special instances when the man follows her lead. After all, the idea is dancing together.