A follower’s perspective - swayingswetha
About a year ago, I felt like I had hit a plateau in Latin dancing. More often than not I found myself thinking “I haven’t learned anything in the class today.” Sometimes I felt like I was in the class just so the leads can learn to lead. I didn’t know how to articulate this concern though. Was I following new moves? Sure. But did I feel like the learning was worth the time and money? Maybe not. With all these questions in my head, one would think I’d discontinue classes but I’m glad I didn’t.
My perspective totally changed when I realized that a follower's role isn’t to “just follow”. It is way more than that, and it is as difficult as a leader’s role if not more.
It’s a no-brainer that Connection, Posture, Musicality, Grace, and Balance are very important ingredients for an amazing dance. Skills like Grace, Posture, Connection and Balance are indispensable for a good follower. It takes time, effort, and more importantly a good teacher who helps you with the right technique to learn these skills. Finding a good teacher who can help you as a follower is key to this. Here are a few blunders of mine that would have remained blunders, if they weren’t corrected by the right technique.
Connection - Giving your partner connection even while doing a spin
Posture - Having a strong frame to avoid delayed jerky reaction
Musicality - Dancing to different instruments, and not just to the lyrics or bongos
Grace - Keeping the shoulders relaxed.
Balance - Keeping the knees bent
These were a few things I had to rectify. But every follower is different and so are the mistakes in their technique. Balance, for instance, not keeping the knees bent, tilting backward while doing a spin, and not spotting while taking a turn are just a few ways of doing it wrong. Your technique could be wrong for a completely different reason.
Maybe you are not generating enough momentum. It takes a good teacher who understands a follower’s role to help you identify where your technique is off. This blog post articulates this very well. I highly recommend you read it.
It takes two to tango, a good leader is only one part of this. Followers should want to put in the work too. Progress is the key to keeping any interest alive. If your strategy is to just learn on the floor, chances are you’ll get bored sooner than later. The dances will start to feel mundane as the months pass by and after a while, they’ll stop being fun.
To be able to extract maximum returns one needs to invest little time and effort into learning the art form.
As you keep learning, the progress will be visible and it will help you increase the life of your epic Latin socials as a follower.
Having said all this, having fun still remains the core of it all. Break a leg :).