So I know that I a few years ago, I wrote a very passionate article about the roles of ballroom dance and how in this one aspect of your life, the man is in control with the woman following. Up until we moved to the new dance studio, this was the mantra that my wife and I had been operating under… and in social dancing, this may still be the way to look at it, but in competitive ballroom, all bets are off.
In competitive ballroom dance, the lead and follow transitions from partner to partner throughout the dance. This actually makes sense when you think about it because otherwise the “lead” would be back leading all the time and back leading blind in a number of cases.
The big thing to remember is that ballroom dancing is a partnership where one partner waits for one and another partner then drives through… and vise versa.
The first big challenge with migrating to this new frame of thought is getting your brain to think in these terms. For the longest time, I was taught that I did all of the leading and my partner was simply docile and waiting for my instructions. So allowing your brain to think in more of a “partnership” way is the first step. Then, with learning anything new with ballroom dance, it’s about then getting your body to do what you want it to do. For any of the moves where we’re in open position, this makes sense because there’s an obvious positive and negative connection that guides my path. When we’re in closed position (or in frame), it is more difficult because those signals aren’t quite as clear.
In the end, the main point is when you truly start to train as competitive ballroom dancers, you will dance bigger, different, and rethink everything you though you knew about the sport.