Updated: Aug 24, 2022
No matter how much experience you have, partnership is key for dancing well. Now let's talk about you what you need to make your dancing go from good to great!
In partner dancing, there is always an action and a reaction that is taking place. In Ballroom dancing, the Leader initiates a dance move and the Follower reacts to, or follows, that lead. This process causes you to slow down and listen to your partner's body language. It also helps you to reflect on how your body language is affecting your partner which is a very important practice to get used to. In partner dancing, verbal communication is just as important as nonverbal communication. Even though the lead & follow connection should be communicated through your frame and hold, never forget the benefit of talking through it too. If you take the time to communicate what you need to your partner then it will certainly show in your dancing. Learning to listen and apply what your partner expresses to you will make you more comfortable dancing with them and is a necessary for building your partnership!
More Than Just Lead & Follow
We hear the phrase "lead & follow" a lot when it comes to partner dancing. But oftentimes we don't think about the depth of this partnership. If we take time to really focus on the partnership then we will see our dancing soon go to the next level. Partnership is more than just leading a pattern and then doing that pattern. Whether you are just meeting your partner or have danced together for years, you always need to remember to adjust to your partner. Just because a specific pattern is supposed to be done a certain way, doesn't mean that it always will be. You learn very quickly in partner dancing that a move does not always go as planned. So learning to adapt quickly will save you from amplifying your mistakes. For example, as the lead in a social dance setting, if you have a certain sequence of patterns in mind and the follower does not respond to one of them as you intended, try to change it up and go with a pattern that might work better with how the follower responded instead of pushing forward with the sequence you originally wanted. Always try to remember that listening to your partner and going with the flow is key. Learning to respond quickly will take practice, but it will pay off in time! Thinking of your dancing connection as a conversation can help with that.
It's a Give & Take
Partner dancing is like a dialogue between two people. We don't want to be too rigid in saying that "the lead always leads." Instead, we want to see it more as a dialogue - responding to each other the whole time we are dancing. When you are talking with someone, hopefully you don't interrupt them or abruptly change the topic right in the middle of a good conversation. Instead, you take a moment to think about what they said and then respond to it accordingly, as they do to you. So as the lead, each time the follow responds to what you initiate, try to take her response in mind when choosing what to initiate next. This could apply to the momentum you are feeling, her styling, the spacing between you two or the other dancers in the room.
Styling & Emotions
Partner dancing is all about working together as a team. Especially when it comes to dancing a choreography. But a choreography is empty with out the missing piece of styling and emotions. When we add these elements it is then that we are able to captivate the audience and bring them into the story of your dance. Whether you are interpreting the lyrics of the song in your dancing or expressing your own feelings, there is always a way illustrate a story in your dancing. A great way to start doing this is to get comfortable using your free arm. So whenever there is a time in your dance where your hand is not connected to your partner, style with it! Practice using your free hand instead of having it limp at your side. Instead, start with a rounded motion or bringing it parallel to the floor. If you know your partner well, even brushing their face or gesturing toward them can be a great addition. But when your partner adds an emotion or styling, remember to respond to it with your own as well. For example, if your partner brushes your face as part of her styling, respond to that with a facial expression or a gesture of your own. This response will immediately show the connection you have with your partner, and illustrate more of a story in your dancing.
Getting used to portraying emotions can be difficult at first. If you are dancing to a choreography, sit down with your partner and talk about what story you are trying to portray, then walk through your dance and brainstorm together what you could do at each part of your choreography. Thinking about what they lyrics say in the song can be very helpful as well. If it's a wedding dance you are doing then you can take some time and think about a special moment in your relationship that you've shared and try to picture that moment when you are dancing together. Each time you're about to perform your dance, get into your own "bubble" and think about those special times and dance like it's just you and your partner in the room. Adding more partnership to your dance can be a simple as having eye contact, so start small and build up from there!
Your partnership will grow more and more over time as you do. Just remember to always listen to your partner and respond thoughtfully...and just have fun with it!
Are you interested in partner dancing?
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Green Bay Ballroom
525 N Taylor St.
Green Bay, WI 54303