Receiving many compliments on the previous post ( A Leader’s Take on Following ) and with the many compliments came many tips for Leaders. With help from Nadini and Jane, the salsa addiction centre has put together a mighty list of Tips for Leaders. Without further adieu, here are:
The Follower’s Take on Leading:
A Great Leader Guides, Not Forces:
Lead as if guiding your partner through the move – not pushing or propelling – there have been times where I felt exhausted by the amount of force being extended through the patterns; there is difference between being firm/tension and being rough with the follower. A follower is more likely to dance with a lead that is guiding and not roughly propelling them through a pattern.
A Great Leader is Assertive, Not Aggressive:
Be assertive with signalling moves – nothing worse than having a lead that does not commit to the move – in which case a partner may up and decide to back lead because they cannot tell what direction the lead is signalling etc.
A Great Leader keeps their Followers Close and Bachata Partners Closer:
Get close to your partner – one thing I have observed is the distance between the lead and follower varies based on comfort level. Oft, a newer dancer – still getting comfy with being close to a partner…will have some distance btw themself and the follower. This makes it difficult to follow, as the follower ends up having to take big steps or the arms are over-extended and this makes it pretty uncomfortable for a follower. Also when you are in a club, your real-estate in which to dance is much smaller – thus you really are dancing in the slot within a small area. Smaller steps helps with control of distance between yourself and your partner.
A Great Leader Feels the Music, Not Fights It:
Musicality – big one for a follower. For me, I find I enjoy dancing more with a partner that is hitting the counts right. The salsa dance moves coordinate better with the music if you can figure out your counts. As a follower, its much more enjoyable for me to dance with someone whom is on time. The main reason, I relax and can listen and enjoy the music and basically respond to the signalling/cues from my partner – as we are both synced to the music.
A Great Leader Connects, A Poor One Distracts:
Introduce yourself and maintain eye contact – for the connection factor. I usually try to chat the person up to get em to get comfortable with me as a partner.
A Great Leader Steps in Sync with their Followers:
Tall or take large steps? Think of your partner’s height and how large their stride is. Chances are you’re big steps are causing them to move uncomfortably and travel mass distances. Attempt smaller steps to conserve space (which is most ideal), but often forgotten.
A Great Leader Dances for his Followers, Not TO His Followers:
A big mistake many leaders make is thinking that they have to unleash a torrent of dance moves/combos, etc. Many times you’ll see Leader’s putting their partners into a million moves with no consideration to the feeling of the song as well as how comfortable their partner is. Trust me, start with a few easy moves ( basic, right turn, cross body lead, etc) and then add more as you get a sense of their level. Always pay attention to how your partner is responding to your moves and make sure they’re smiling and happy.
A Great Leader Keeps Their Frame:
It definitely takes two to Salsa not just Tango 🙂 Leaders need to keep their form just as much as the followers. Keeping your elbows at the right angle, and not over extending is key when executing double turns, waiter turns etc. Having a good support/form allows for more flow of movement without throwing off our balance and most importantly preventing us followers from straying from our dance space. Leaders play a big part in controlling the dance slot. The leaders may take smaller steps, but it doesn’t necessarily remind followers to do the same if leaders don’t maintain their frame.
A Great Leader Leads by Listening:
I also believe if you have a light spinner in your hands do not force the spins, your lead should compliment the spinner (the halo feel on spins is the best). Once your comfortable with your partner you can determine their speed and control in which leaders should adjust their energy. Sharon reminded me last night (as a follower) make sure to look at your partner as a focal point, instead of all directions while doing turns (keeps you grounded and steady for the next surprise move).
Ultimately, great leaders listen to their dance partners and make sure they execute a smooth, on-time dance that keeps their interests. It’s all about connection. Have any tips or comments? Feel free to post them!
Till then ,
Stay Shining Salseros!