Sharing The Joy Of Dancing
ROLE PLAYING IN PARTNERSHIP DANCING
The gentleman and the lady have distinct and different roles in all partnership dancing. This is especially true in Ballroom Dancing.
The role of the gentleman is to lead. Leading involves a variety of responsibilities.
- The gentleman dances elements which means he must plan his next move ahead of the actual lead.
- The gentleman dances from the partnership center except during solo movements in which he moves from his own center.
- The gentleman determines the tempo and feeling of the dance through his body movement and weight changes.
- It is very important for the gentleman to have clean foot work. That means very distinct weight changes which allow the lady to be able to respond correctly and on time.
- The gentleman must slow down, speed up or stop his movement to control the lady's body momentum. Example; he slows down his movement for a Waltz hesitation and speeds up his movement then stops abruptly for a Tango fan.
- All of the gentleman's leads are designed to initiate a natural response from the lady.
- The gentleman's lead is usually a step ahead of when he wants the lady to respond. This makes it feel very natural for the lady to perform the body movement. In fact, it is very hard for the lady to do anything else.
The role of the lady is to follow. Following has its own set of responsibilities.
- The lady dances one step at a time, the one she can feel from the gentleman's lead.
- The lady dances from her center during solo movements and from the partnership center the rest of the time.
- The lady maintains her off-set position in relation to the gentleman.
- The lady provides power to the partnership during forward movements.
- The lady's action and reaction to the gentleman's lead completes the total feeling of the dance.
- The lady needs to learn the correct response to the lead. For example; the Bolero, Rumba, Cha Cha, and Samba have the same fundamental underarm turn. The Rumba & Cha Cha underarm turn feels different because of the music's timing. The Rumba underarm turn happens on slow, quick, quick; the Cha Cha underarm turn is quick, quick, quick; the Bolero has the same timing as the Rumba underarm turn but because Bolero is based on a slip pivot movement, it feels very different, Samba has ah, quick, ah, quick timing and a pendulum movement that makes the underarm turn feel different.
- The lady must keep in mind that she is responding to the gentleman's body movement in reference to the center of the partnership.
- Sometimes it is very difficult for the lady to follow when the gentleman's body is telling her something different from the music. 90% of the lady's wrong or slow response is because of the gentleman's incorrect, slow or fast lead. When a gentleman is in learning mode, he is often not with the music.
- The lady must not anticipate the lead because it is designed to get a specific natural response from the lady.
- The lady should let her body move in a natural way and not try to figure out what to do.
- If the gentleman leads you incorrectly, still try to respond to what is lead, don't try to correct it. If you correct it, he may never know that his lead was wrong.
Although each person has their own role, there are common responsibilities in the partnership as well.
- The gentleman's lead and lady's follow is continuous and on going.
- The gentleman and lady need to know the feeling of Cuban motion (American or International style) for the Latin dances.
- Both need to know how the body moves to develop the specific feelings for each unique dance. For example; rise/fall - Waltz; staccato movement - Tango; smooth gliding action - Foxtrot, etc.
- The action/reaction, leveraging off each other, lead/follow of the partnership is what makes turns, swivels, dips, head flecks, spins, over sways, speed, control, and power work.
- Each must keep in mind that you are half of a four legged animal with a common center.
The gentlemen and lady by themselves does not make the partnership work rather it is the oneness of the two that results in the wonderful feeling of power, strength, movement and music that is so addictive.