Forum: General / Ballroom / Waltz

Turning and following lead tips needed
By NinaBallerina021
On Sun Apr 20, 2008 03:47 AM

My boyfriend and I have just started ballroom dancing. We've been managing pretty well with the rumba, and don't have any problems when it comes to waltzing back and forth, but as soon as we have to start spinning to the right everything turns into a mess.

I still need to learn to follow his lead, because I'm a ballet/contemporary dancer. I'm used to doing my own thing and whenever I feel like he's about to mess up, I don't follow at ALL. And I also have problems with it when he's not messing up.

So, any tips on how to turn to the right during the slow waltz and the vienna waltz?

5 Replies to Turning and following lead tips needed

re: Turning and following lead tips needed
By chorsinamember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Mon Apr 21, 2008 12:06 AM
I totally know where you're coming from with the problem of being lead! I've been a figure skater for years before I started ballroom and I'm used to just having a set of steps that I do on my own. In the end in my first year of ballroom I always settled for agreeing on a choreography before dancing and just repeating in over and over again (e.g. 2 basic steps, 2 promenades, 2 backward promenades, a turn, the fan... and repeat...). Obviously very boring.

What really helped me to feel the lead the Argentinian tango workshop I attended. Since this style is completely about improvisation there was no way really to agree on choreography and so my first piece of advice would be, in case you are communicating about steps e.g. verbally, to stop that and it's better to actually get stepped on a couple of times rather than continue having a bad habit.

Second of all, keep tension. One of the mistakes I was doing is, in hope of getting more responsive, I was getting "looser" so that it would be easier to lead me. It proved to be even harder this way because, true, that my partner could easily move me but I didn't feel when he was pressing at all. So do keep tension and keep the frame of the dance position. If he's pressing do not let just your shoulder move but change the position of the whole body.

Do not assume anything before you actually feel your partner give you some sign. Stay focused and don't think that you feel like doing something fancy. Be aware all the time that he is leading and even if three times in a row he did the same combination of steps don't start guessing that he'll repeat that again, just keep your guard :)

Change partners if you can. Do not always dance with your boyfriend. Especially, if you can dance with somebody with more experience it will be very useful to you. Just let him lead and if at some point you realise that you just did a figure that normally you have problems with try to ask the guy to repeat what he did and see in what way it feels different in comparison to how it feels when your boyfriend is leading you to this figure. It might be just that if he pushes a bit more downwards/upwards/to the side/with a little twist makes a huge difference.

Figure out how much time you need to respond. E.g. in rumba if you're about to enter a promenade your partner has to signal it to you a bit earlier than on the "2" because that's when you already need to step. Make him aware that although you don't have to think of choreography, he has to know not only what he's doing now but what his next step will be. Otherwise he'll signal it to you too late and you will not have time to react.

One of the really helpful exercises I was show on the Argentinian tango workshop was as follows: stand with your partner in a closed position but a bit more apart than you normally would. Play some music with clear rhythm (best choice is something rather slow and with constant beat). Your partner has to lead you by stepping on the rhythm either to the front, or to to the back or to either side. Rule is: you can step with one leg only once and the next step has to be with another. So, e.g. if you're starting with your right leg (he therefore starts with left) you can e.g. go one step back (for him it's forward) with right leg, then one more step back (which you have to do with your left leg now) and then if he wants to lead you to the side he can only lead you to your right (his left) because since you made the second step with your left leg now only right is free. I know my explanation is a bit convoluted but I hope you see what I mean. If you want, you can close your eyes to concentrate better. Doing this exercise helped me a lot (both with Argentinian tagno and with ballroom dances)

OK, this is getting unnecessarily long, sorry... But one last thing - the waltz. I'm not sure whether you mean just the right turn or the spin (like the 180 degrees turn). With both, however, what helps me is to think that steps that are straight should be long while steps that actually do the turning should be small. Otherwise the person who is turning at the time has to make huge steps and cannot make the distance. I'm not sure if that's the problem you have but I hope that you will find helpful at least some of the things I wrote about leading.

Good luck! :)
re: Turning and following lead tips needed
By Live4Dancemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Tue Apr 22, 2008 08:25 AM
Following is very hard at the beginning. You have to work with your partner (who probably doesn't have a very strong lead either) to improve.
I always do this exercise with my students, (and even with my partner before each practice). Start with Rumba, close your eyes, and have your partner lead you into simple steps, like basics, cuccarachas, New-Yorker, a random order of course. Feel the connection. After, try it again in waltz. Give him some feedback on what you need to feel his lead.
re: Turning and following lead tips needed
By Mrs_Tracy
On Wed Apr 23, 2008 07:02 AM
One thing that helped me at the beginning of learning ballroom (I am a kids' ballet, tap and jazz teacher), was realizing the woman should be a fraction of a second behind the man in timing. It isn't visible, but you can feel it. When I stopped trying to step at the exact same time, I could be led easier.

I also agree to try closing your eyes, but I'd start with a smooth dance since there is body contact.

One of the hardest things for me to learn is not spotting during smooth and just floating the turns.
re: Turning and following lead tips needed
By loveofChrist
On Mon May 05, 2008 09:49 PM
The above posters seem to give great technical pointers to following successfully. But I would have to say, that when I started to more fully ~trust~ my partner, he noticed that it was easier to lead, and said so.

Try to trust him a little more. Even if he does mess up, try to follow that too. As long as he feels that you won't follow, and that you are just waiting for the next time that he messes up, the follow/lead is going to be messy.

Good luck!

dance on,
re: Turning and following lead tips needed
By jenc1
On Sun Jun 01, 2008 04:20 AM
You definatley have to trust your partner and not lead yourself. If you let him take control and providing he has a good frame and topline you should be able to fel his lead.


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