Like the symbol of Yin and Yang, a partner dance is one dance of two complimentary halves.
When you think of partner dancing you might easily imagine Ballroom,Latin or Tango or another style of dance you know. What these have in common is two people creating a dance together. In fact, there are many types of partner dances and you can partner dance to all sorts of music. That’s what I teach here, the fundamentals of connection in dancing together. Once you know these fundamentals, you and your partner can throw away the rules and create an improvised dance to whatever music you like.
In the improvisational partner dance there are no set ‘steps’ or ‘rules’ which dictate when you must dance a particular step together, or even how. What I teach here is how to be inspired to move with the music and how to let that be your guide, rather than dancing a pre-set pattern or remembering footwork.
The most fundamental part of partner dancing is two people coming together to make one dance. It’s a dance made up of two halves, each with a different, but interconnected role. These two halves are known as ‘lead’ and ‘follow’. Traditionally, these roles would have been danced by men as leads and ladies as follows, but in truth anyone can dance either of the parts. As long as there is one person to take on each of the roles, then you can make a partner dance, no matter what gender you are.
Think of a conversation. You need two people to have a conversation. One person speaks and the other one listens, that’s how a message is communicated. If both people talk at the same time the no messages are communicated. Similarly, if both people listen at the same time, nothing happens and again no message is communicated. It’s not possible to be talking and listening at the same time, at least not for effective communication. It’s the same with partner dance, except instead of sending our messages through words we’re doing it through physical movement, so that’s why each role is crucial to making the other role work, and also how they fit together to make up the whole.
Neither role is more positive, stronger or in any way more or less superior than the other. They are both different and need to other to exist satisfactorily. Here’s the fundamentals of what the different roles are:
The leader is the giver of the energy in the dance, or the initiator of the movement. We could say that leading is directing the movement of the dance. Leads initiate in which direction the dance is moving, or which parts of the body are being used to express movement.
The follower receives the energy of the dance and the movement. The follower receives the directional momentum initiated by the lead and uses it to make their own body move and complete the movement.
This, in a nutshell, is what partner dance is all about. No one role can exist without the other, that’s why it’s called partner dance. There are many wild, inspiring and amazing combinations that happen within this dynamic. You could dance the same role throughout the whole dance or you could switch roles throughout the dance. As long as one person is leading and the other is following then you are completing the circle and creating a dance together.
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