A message to all guys wanting to become great dance partners!
I have about 10 years of partner dancing experience. Recently I danced with a beginner leader. The song was fast and for some reason he launched one of the hardest (but to be fair, fundamental) figures of the dancing, counting every step, starring on the floor bestween us while constantly apologizing for his dancing. I REALLY tried my best to make him feel comfortable, smiling and following also the “odd steps”. But the dance was a bit of a struggle, for both of us.
He made me think. This happens a little too often when I dance with beginners. Is it me? Is it the difference between our dancelevels? Is it simply a nature law that a beginner lead has a hard time relaxing with a more experienced partner? – Or has a beginner lead just per definition a hard time relaxing with any dance partner in general?
Then a few days later I danced with another beginner lead. It was amazing! We did’nt do much actually, but he was so relaxed and seemed to enjoy the dance and the music just as much as me. There were eyecontact, smiles and fun was had. More thoughts: Is it true that some people are just naturals, when it comes to dancing, while other have to learn the hard way? What if there is a shortcut for anybody who feels impatient about getting those great dance endorfines running – and fast ?
What makes a great dance?
I would claim that with some mental work, anyone can be at a beginners level and already be a great partner from the first steps! I think that the key is were to focus. What makes a dance great is, in my opinion, first of all a human connection, more than specific dance patterns (however, that can be true later on in ones dance “evolution”, when these patterns are working really well) Sadly, but somewhat understandably, most beginners dedicate all their attention to trying to make the dance work technically. Which is totally suitable in a class situation, but maybe not so much for the social dancefloor.
My humble suggestion to (beginner) leads who would like yummie dances with (advanced) followers therefore goes:
Simple stuff is GREAT!!! If you worry about her being bored of your simple dancing, give her some space and see what happens. It gives the follower the opportunity to sneak in fx. a footwork variation here and there, if she wants more action (she often doesn’t, you’ll see).As a beginner – please don’t get me wrong – you are not likely to impress me with your dancefigure repetoire anyway (yet!), but I promise you this : you can thrill me with your pressence and attention. Forget what your teachers told you! As mentioned, social dancing is not a class and you are almost always better of dancing without thinking too much about what you are doing. Have a beer instead and do simple stuff as bouncing to the rythm or just walking together. And here’s a good one: respond the music! If you hear a trumpet go “tooot”, show it with a movement – it works everytime, because she hears it too!
I believe that if this aproach is prioritised, it will build confidence and with great confidence it is easier and faster to learn and develop on other aspects of dancing too. Like great technique and a huge movement repetoire. But why wait for blissfull dancing experiences till you have danced for years?
Disclaimer: I realise that my motive on the dancefloor could be different from yours. Maybe you are not interested in dancing with ME, maybe you are just there to dance with SOMEBODY or as MANY as posible so that you can develop your dance? (I mean to provoke here, if you didn’t get that) So your turn leads: Please write your thoughts in a comment (top left corner). What could an advanced follow do to make you feel GREAT (and what should she avoid doing) ? What’s your recipe for an advanced follow getting great dances with a beginner lead? Other dance roles are welcome to contribute too, follows & leads on any level and from any dance style!
PS. I really do NOT intend to freak beginner leads out by writing this and I hope I don’t sacrifise too many dance invitations from you guys! If you worry, try me out once anyway…I am the smiling follow, remember?