• Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way

    Daniel couldn’t make it to Paula‘s class last night, so I went on my own.  It was a great class–Paula and Jim are really pushing everybody to work on technique and styling.  We worked on rumba and cha-cha and Jim drilled us on Cuban motion and on the different types of chassés (he called them chassés but I think I’ve heard other names too) in cha-cha.  By the time we’d done 5 different chassés (in place, left, right, forward locks, and back locks), I was pouring sweat.  Ballroom dancing is one of the few pursuits I’ve encountered that gets more strenuous as one becomes more skilled/advanced at it!

    After working a few minutes on technique for each dance, Jim switched to working on steps.  Paula asked me to learn the men’s parts.  As a follower, I find it extremely useful to switch sides and see what leading feels like.  It’s a good way to figure out how I can improve my following skills.  I have a bad habit of anticipating leads, but when I have to lead I can feel the need for the follower to wait to be led instead of doing the step she knows is coming.  I can also see how important it is for a follower to have good posture and a solid frame.  I’ve never had trouble keeping my frame up but I sometimes collapse inward toward my partner too much.  Last night we worked on a step in cha-cha consisting of (for the man) 3 forward locks, a rock step, and 3 back locks.  If the follower doesn’t have a solid frame, she can’t tell when to change direction.  Leading when one is accustomed to following makes me feel a little like my brain’s on backwards, but it’s such a great learning experience.

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