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Leading and Following

by Irv & Betty Easterday

It may seem strange to talk about leading and following in round dancing, since both partners know their part equally well, and there is a cuer telling both people what to do. However, if two people dance independently to cues, the chances of perfectly matched dancing is slim. No matter how good the timing of each partner, there will probably be a subtle difference in interpretation of the music. Another problem is length of step. If one person decides to move out and the other does not, a bumpy ride is surely to be in store.

There is no substitute for the man's lead, even if the woman is the stronger dancer. The construction of the closed dance position has the man's lead in mind, and the woman is in no position to lead effectively. The advantage to good leading and following is nicely matched dancing.

The closed position frame is the key to good leading and following. There are five points of contact: the man's left and woman's right hand, the diaphragm, the woman's left hand on the man's right arm, the man's right hand on the woman's back, and the man's right wrist just under the armpit of the woman. None of these points of contact should ever be used independently. All five should be used as a single unit. The most important points are the diaphragm and the man's right wrist. By thinking more about these two points and less about the other three, some common faults of leading can be avoided. These faults include the independent pushing and pulling of the man's right and woman's left arm, the grabbing of the woman's back with the man's right hand, and grabbing of the man's right arm by the woman's left hand. All three of these faults lead to poor dancing and should be avoided.

Putting the bodies into closed position and locking the frame, and using body rotation and sway is the key to good leading. Following is accomplished the same way. The follower should not be putty in the leader's arms, but at the same time, must trust the body cues that the leader gives.


From clinic notes prepared for a URDC Teachers Seminar, 1984, and reprinted in the DRDC newsletter, December 2014/January 2015..

(Some issues remain ever important.)


dingbat




If you would like to read other articles on dance position, technique, styling, and specific dance rhythms, you may visit the article TOC.



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