Sharing The Joy Of Dancing

THE GENTLEMAN'S DILEMMA


The dilemma Men have when Ballroom Dancing is quite different than the Ladies Dilemma. Someone has to be the "Leader" in the partnership and somehow the men were given the job. The "Leader" has to determine what to do and effectively communicate this to the other partner. The "Leader" has mental and physical actions all occurring at the same time for the duration of the dance. All of this is going on with the assumption that the partner can understand the actions of the lead and respond appropriately.

Solo dancers (Jazz dancers, etc.) have a completely different mentality than partnership dancers. Solo dancers have only one concern (themselves). Their movements can be almost completely spontaneous because there is only one entity involved. It seems as if there is no mental involvement. Partnership dancers have many other considerations. The "Leader" must create and accommodate the movements of a "two-headed four-legged animal".

In Ballroom Dancing the "Lead" is composed of many parts. The dance frame is a major communication link between the partners. It is the source of both physical and logical "Leads". I call "Logical Leads" "Invisible Leads". Weight distribution and the direction of movement are parts of the lead. Footwork, (rise & fall, ball steps, heel steps, etc.) are also involved in the lead. Movement momentum and centrifugal force are used too. Body offset and body shapes are key elements of the "Lead" as well. The use of the head is an often overlooked part of the "Lead". Ultimately, the "Lead" is composed of the whole body plus the power and the direction of movement.

The "Leader" defines the dance framework (the physical space relationship of the two partners) and initiates the power and direction of the partnership's movements. The "Leader" determines what dance elements to execute and in what order and creates the necessary body shapes and directional movements required to dance these specific elements. The "Leader" coordinates the partnership's movements to the music and navigates the partnership around the dance floor. The "Leader" must also infuse into the movements the character of the specific dance (for example: Rise & Fall in Waltz, staccato movements in Tango, Latin Motion in Rumba, etc.).

The "Leader" also has to figure out how to dance with a variety of different partners. Partners come in all different sizes, shapes and skill levels. The leader has to adapt to each partners size, skill level, participation, athletic ability, etc., etc. Some partners try to guess what to do instead of trying to respond to the "Lead", and often they guess wrong. Some partners actually try to "Lead" instead of responding to the lead.

One of the biggest challenges of being the "Leader" is developing the ability to combine all of these various aspects into a smooth flowing moving entity (the two-headed four-legged animal).

After reading the above, being a "Leader" sounds like an impossible task. It is not quite as complicated as it seems. Many of the items stated above will become natural physical and logical actions. Ballroom Dancing grows and continues to evolve over time. The great thing is that you can dance right now at a very basic level and continue to dance as you evolve to the higher the levels of dancing. You don't have to wait until you know everything before you can start dancing. <.P>

The learning process is a very enjoyable experience. As your Ballroom proficiency progresses, so does the enjoyment of Ballroom Dancing. When your dancing is pretty good it has a great feeling. When you advance to the higher levels of dancing, it is incredible. It is well worth the time and effort to become a trained and proficient Ballroom Dancer. Just remember, there is no wrong in Ballroom Dancing, there is just better. The learning process never ends, so enjoy the process. No one is ever a "Ballroom Dancer"; they will always be a dancer in progress.

DISCLAIMER: I really, really, hate the term "Lead and Follow" and in particular I hate the word "Follow". There is much more of an equal participation of the partners than the term "Lead and Follow" implies. It is hard to effectively communicate the dance partnership information without using at least the term "Lead".