by Sandi &
We hear a great
about lead and follow these days, but we prefer to call what we do in
round dancing as partnership dancing. Lead and follow are techniques
in ballroom to allow one person to think up an amalgamation and
nonverbally “tell” his partner what that is. Aren’t we lucky
that the “amalgamation” part of our dancing is not something
partners need to guess.
We think of
as a conversation, a constant exchange of non-verbal signals. We both
know (or hear cues for) the routine. It is the job of the person
“leading” to provide clear timing and direction, and the person
responsible for moving, doing her part, in response. It becomes a
conversation because sometimes the “leader” has to listen and
react to what the partner did, on purpose or by mistake. Like
participating in a conversation, each partner must be attentive to
what is being said, so the response is appropriate.
How trite it
when we say each partner must maintain proper posture and frame and
be responsible for moving. But it is through the frame that any
conversation can occur. When connected through a good frame, one
partner feels a step being led when the other’s spine begins to
move through space or shifts weight from one foot to the other. That
connection is called tone.
Tone, not tension.
Tension is the engagement of isolated muscles with no countering
force. Flex a bicep. Lift something heavy. That’s tension. Tone is
working muscles groups together. Lifting an arm shouldn’t feel like
flinging the arm out to the side; think about lifting it from the
muscles in your back while using the muscles in the front of your
shoulder to keep the shoulder down. You now have tone in the arm that
your partner can feel.
Working on a frame
lifelong project, but assume you think you have a good one. What’s
wrong with the partner that she can’t “follow,” you ask. Look
again at the frame. Here are some points to ponder when assessing
your frame: Are your elbows in front of your spine? Are your blocks
of weight (head, shoulders, rib cage, pelvis) aligned? Are you
dancing your part or worrying about what the partner is doing? Have
you engaged your core muscles (tone) so she can feel when and how you
move or did you try to move her with your arms or step without moving
your aligned blocks of weight?
Some leads come
shaping. Did you rotate your upper body to change shape to lead a
semi-closed position? When you turned your chest and shoulders
farther to the right than your hips did you keep your right elbow in
front of your ribs?
Other leads can be
visual. Did you extend your hand at waist level to ask for the
partner’s free hand when initiating a wrap? Or sweep it out to show
partner “the way” to travel, as into a fan?
and Sandi host two weekly
Carousel Clubs and teach a weekly figure clinic on advanced basics in
Southern California. This
article comes from their club newsletter,
October 2013, and
was reprinted in the Dixie Round Dance Council (DRDC)
Newsletter, March 2014.