Competitive DancingDance PsychologySocial Dancing

The most important skill of every Ballroom, Latin, Smooth and Rhythm dancer!

Lead and follow in ballroom latin rhythm and smooth blog article by marcin raczynski

Every dancer has heard of “a man” leading and “a lady” following in a dance. This has been the principle of Ballroom and Latin since the very beginning. But interestingly, it’s mainly dancers at the high levels who choose to practice it, rather than the ones who just started their dancing.  Why is that? and Whose fault is it?

Let me first tell you some of the benefits of leading and following:

  1. Competitive dancing:

    – great look together as a couple, rather than a duet of synchronized dancers
    – no pushing or pulling each other around the dance floor (more energy and focus on dancing, than survival)
    – no unnecessary stopping when other couples dance in front of you
    – chance to interpret the music
    – no panic in case you forget the choreography
    – less strain on your back (that’s actually a really big one!)

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  2. Social dancing:

    – you can dance with literally anyone
    – you don’t need to remember or even know the steps
    – no pushing or pulling your partner around (more pleasant for both dancers)
    – no more responses like “oh sorry I don’t know foxtrot” or “I can only dance latin”

So knowing how good this whole “leading and following” is why don’t dancers spend more time doing it? Well, here are some of the reasons:

  • it takes more time and patience so dancers get discouraged early
  • it’s actually easier to teach “new sexy steps” than it is to explain “lead and follow”
  • more “solo” parts in choreographies than together (again, it’s easier)
  • “new dancers” start with choreographies and technique, rather than “social dancing”

The point I’m trying to make is that if you want to actually be a good dancer, you must “fall in love” with leading and following. Believe me- understanding and learning “the principle” will fast track you to much higher level of dancing because you can apply it throughout!

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So what should you do now?

  1. Start your lesson/practice with a social dance
  2. Learn at least pre-bronze figures for each dance (more info and free full list HERE)
  3. Practice “pauses” in your choreographies (leader decides when)
  4. Dedicate part of your training to focus on dancing without choreographies
  5. Follower- don’t hang on the leader, but stay active and light (ask your teacher what that means)
  6. Leader- leading should be invisible and effortless (also, ask your teacher how to achieve it)
  7. If you’ve been with a dance teacher for over 2 years, and still can’t dance socially, get a refund!

Trust me, once you get the hang of it, anything you dance, will feel so much better, more advanced and in fact, easier! You will have a lot more energy and power to actually dance, listen to music and feel one another, which is the essence of Ballroom, Latin, Smooth and Rhythm after all!

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Photo credits: Maggiore Fotografico

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