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Thread: Learning to follow

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    Learning to follow

    Greetings all! I am new to modern jive, and to this forum.
    My dilemma is due to my lack of subtlety, so, true to form, I may as well plough ahead with my question J
    I did look through the “beginners’ corner” threads, especially the ones on leading and following, and couldn’t find quite the problem I have in mind…and on the dance floor. After about three months in beginner classes, I still have difficulty following a lead, even in the basic moves I ought to recognise. I was warned about the havoc followers wreak when they try to lead, so I made a positive effort to avoid that pitfall by not memorising the order of the lesson’s moves, and trying my best to match the pressure my hand felt consistently. Fell into another pit. Many was the time I ended up stranded and confused, with my unfortunate partner looking sheepish, wondering what he had done wrong. I felt badly, and apologised (yes, I was told “it is always the leader’s fault,” but after all, they were just trying to learn, too). Then I started to say something like, “don’t worry, it’s just me: try leading me as though you were driving a JCB” . Actually, that worked quite well with the more experienced dancers: they just changed the pressure/tension in the hand leading so I got more feedback. Some beginners do tend to throw me around spins, and a pull can become a yank if they fall behind the beat and are trying to catch up, but I am not delicate, (and none have ever used so much force the lead became painful) so I don’t really mind. Besides, I do not miss those looks of dread when I showed up in the rotation at all! But I am not going to learn to read subtle leads this way…and more: my poor husband is trying to learn while practising with me! Before one of you says it, I will: what about all those other poor ladies on the dance floor? … this can’t be doing his learning curve any good?!! Advice please; thanks in advance.

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    Re: Learning to follow

    Quote Originally Posted by JCB View Post
    "try leading me as though you were driving a JCB"
    Must admit I've never driven a JCB.

    But I imagine what happens is you apply really light pressure to the controls, and the JCB itself amplifies that into a much larger movement. This probably isn't a bad analogy..
    Love dance, will travel

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    Re: Learning to follow

    Hi JCB, welcome to the forum!

    I've only been dancing modern jive for a year and I'm sure you'll hear from a lot more experienced heads than mine. But out of curiosity have you done any other kind of dancing, especially non-partnered? I've certainly heard of people from a (often very extensive) solo dance background having difficulties in learning to dance with a partner, and feeling the connection.

    Quote Originally Posted by JCB View Post
    [FONT=Arial]... I still have difficulty following a lead, even in the basic moves I ought to recognise...
    I know the temptation is to learn the moves but as a follower you really don't need to know them. Some of the best advice I can give you is to dance as much as possible, with as many partners as possible; that way the moves get into your muscle memory without you making a conscious effort to learn them. You also don't get too used to one particular way of leading, which can cause difficulties if you try to dance with someone else.

    One thing that may help, is to find a lead you trust then spend part or all of a dance with your eyes closed. (It might be good to warn him first!) That way you have no choice but to focus on the physical connection that you feel.

    Above all though, I know it's easy to say and sometimes harder to do, but try and relax when you're dancing without getting too worried about what you think you're getting wrong. After all, you're there to have fun! And being relaxed but still focussed on the dance is (I find) what leads to some of the most enjoyable dances.
    Last edited by firefly; 4th-April-2007 at 09:35 AM. Reason: tidying up

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    Re: Learning to follow

    Quote Originally Posted by JCB View Post
    Greetings all! I am new to modern jive, and to this forum.
    Welcome, congrats on your first post!

    It's hard to try and give useful advice without really knowing what's going wrong, but a few things come to mind:
    - does your difficulty at following happen with every lead or just the beginners? Have you tried dancing with the teacher and ask him / her what's going wrong?
    - is there a footwork (yeah I know there isn't supposed to be) issue? some moves will work better depending which foot you're on...

    Following is sometimes a thin line between doing exactly what's lead (and sometimes not doing the move that the lead intended to do because he didn't lead it right), doing what's lead but compensating a little for a slightly unclear / unprecise lead (usually required with beginners leads to make the dance work) and actually recognising a move and doing it yourself (also called anticipating which is a big NO NO).

    Hence when I read this:

    Quote Originally Posted by JCB View Post
    After about three months in beginner classes, I still have difficulty following a lead, even in the basic moves I ought to recognise.
    what comes to mind is: there's no need for you to recognise a move, and even try cause that's the best way to anticipation, which is Wrong.


    In any case, your teacher might be the best person to help you until you identify the issue more clearly...
    Good luck (and don't worry too much )

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    Re: Learning to follow

    I was going to suggest closing your eyes, but Firefly beat me to it! It completely changes the whole feel of the dance and you really become aware of what is being lead, not what you think is being lead. I would only advise you to do it with an experienced lead though.

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    Re: Learning to follow

    Dancing with other beginners when you're a beginner yourself is like the blind leading the blind. I'm NOT saying "refuse beginners" - but *do* try to dance as much as you can with leads that you know have some experience. Even if you're in intermediate classes, ask a taxi for some help - they are there "particularly" for beginners, but not just for beginners. Or ask the teacher if they stick around after the class - they are there for everyone

    Of course you want to be dancing with your life partner - but especially while you are both beginners, it's good for both of your dancing to dance with as many other people as possible. Until your partner is reasonably confident leading some of the beginners' moves, it might be best not to try to practise outside classes - this can lead to bad habits for both of you until you both gain a bit more experience.

    As Caro and others have said, it's difficult to know what's going wrong. But I suspect that it might help you to think about the direction your hand is being taken - and as your hand is attached to you, the rest of your body should 'go with the hand'. Try not to let your elbows go "behind you" - if you're being led to step back, the whole of your body should move in that direction - not your hand and arm first, followed by a step back. If you're being led to step forward or sideways, or into a turn, then again, the whole of your body should go in that direction as 'one unit'. (This is the very basic meaning of 'frame' - it's a whole lot more complicated than that, but there's loads elsewhere on the forum rather than going into too many confusing details here.)

    Summary: "Follow your hand".

    Where do you dance?

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    Re: Learning to follow

    I think That most of what needs to be said has been by LMC, Caro and Firefly. All of it good advice!

    Quote Originally Posted by JCB
    I was warned about the havoc followers wreak when they try to lead, so I made a positive effort to avoid that pitfall by not memorising the order of the lesson’s moves, and trying my best to match the pressure my hand felt consistently. Fell into another pit. Many was the time I ended up stranded and confused, with my unfortunate partner looking sheepish, wondering what he had done wrong.
    It sounds as theory wise you've got the right idea. One thing that might be happening and I think it has been touched on by Caro is that a good follower just follows but also can compensate slightly for imperfections in the lead especially with beginner and often intermediate (I use this in the sense of participating in intermediate classes and doing intermeidate moves during freestyle) Leads! In what you say here JCB I get the impression that when you follow your trying to follow exactly what is lead...Which is really good I might add...But if the Lead isn't being precise or clear in what their trying to lead then the move gets fluffed (Technical term!!!) And the lead can end up looking confused! This is quite good for the lead as well because it can sometimes cause them to work on their lead. But It's also a problem that many beginner women anticipate or back lead, Unintentionally mostly, but this can cause the Lead to become lazy!!!

    I would think that it's probably a combination of these things but without dancing with you or seeing you dance I couldn't say for sure!

    try leading me as though you were driving a JCB
    By Saying this to more experienced leads they will probably try to make their lead clearer and less subtle which you say leads to a better dance. As for subtle leads then it takes practice and alot of experience usually! Although I would recomend not saying this to people because it's a bit of a put down, and I'm sure your not really like a JCB!

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    Re: Learning to follow

    to all the good advice above.

    The only thing I would add is to take smaller steps:
    If you feel that you require more direction from the lead, then I would guess that it's because you are going through a 'feel this hand move: must move to follow it like this' thought process. The thought takes time, the more dominant lead takes some of the '...like this' away, so reduces the time taken to process the thought. To reduce it further and give yourself more time to react, take smaller steps so you are ready for the next 'command' from the lead.
    This will help you as you try to come to grips with the "frame" thing mentioned above - that cuts out most of the thought process and turns it into 'follow this hand as it moves'

    Good luck

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    purplehyacinth
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    Re: Learning to follow

    JCB - welcome!

    As has already been said on this thread, it's difficult to give advice when you don't know the person. Sometimes you can be of more help with a dancing problem if you have met the person and danced with them.

    Anyway. General thoughts on following. Please feel free to think about/ignore according to whether you find them helpful or downright useless.

    In one sense, it is useful to turn your brain off in class, as that encourages you to "follow" the moves rather than participate in them in a proactive manner. Proactivity in followers is not encouraged as it is generally regarded as "backleading" and therefor bad. (.... except when it takes the form of hijacking and then it is either good or a heinous crime, depending on whom you are dancing with). For my own agonisings over the subject of switching one's brain off in class and the various helpful responses - summary: switching brain off in class = normal and a Good Thing) see this thread here

    However, from the follower's point of view, there is still some merit in having the brain at least partially engaged in class. When first doing ceroc (and still now, but to a slightly lesser extent), I would find myself in a freestyle flummoxed by a lead (in the sense of a lead in a move, not a leader) because I simply did not know where this particular lead was meant to take me. After that, for a good while classes became a place for me to learn the vocabulary of the various lead signals. For example - taking some simple examples from the beginners' moves:
    • Leader raises your arm over your head - you turn
    • Leader pushes away and down with flat hand - you spin
    • Leader has his hand behind him in the small of his back visible to you when angled slightly side-on to you - you go behind the leader's back
    you see what I'm getting at.

    So if you can think of the moves in class not as moves, but as a series of lead signals, and what you are doing is learning the vocabulary of these lead signals and how to respond - even when these signals come to you in an order different from the order you have encountered them in class, it may help.

    My other most basic move for following can be put in a couple of simple sentences:
    • Always go where your lead is taking your arm/hand.
    • When turning, always turn WITH your arm (turning AGAINST the way you arm is going is v painful and carries possibility of muscle damage and bone damage).
    • When in doubt or feel that you've been left standing - spin!
    Other thoughts -

    This has already been mentioned - try dancing with your eyes shut in class. Shutting your eyes can sometimes help you feel a lead more: when you have your eyes shut, all you have to rely upon is your sense of touch. However, if your problem is not that you are poor at following, but you are being poorly led, it may be of limited assistance.

    Nab a willing taxi dancer and ask for assistance and feedback - that is what the taxis are there for, after all. Also a taxi should be at least a competent lead, so you will be able to work out whether your problem is really a problem with you as a follower, or whether the problem lies with some of the beginners who have been trying to lead you.

    Again - this has been said before - dance with the teacher and ask for feedback. When teaching a class, due to the sheer volume of numbers the teachers can't give individual feedback (as well as the fact that they don't like to single anyone out of the class -which is why teachers' feedback in class is always to the class as a whole " I see some of you are having a problem with Y....."). However, if you go up to a teacher, and ask them to dance and to give feedback then they are usually more than happy to oblige.

    In the freestyle, dance with as many people as possible - again getting experience of as wide a range of leads as possible will help you to follow: frequently, you will have to adjust your frame to suit the lead; and adjusting to different leaders styles and repertoires of moves will mean that you are having to concentrate on FOLLOWING what they are leading even if you don't have a clue what the move is that they are doing. (One of my dance teachers (non-ceroc) once said that her definition of a "good dance" (as a follower) was one where you came off the floor at the end of the track not having any idea what it was you had just done, but knowing that you had really enjoyed it). DO NOT BE SCARED TO ASK MORE EXPERIENCED DANCERS FOR A DANCE.

    AND FINALLY

    Do not think of yourself as a JCB. Again to steal a line from the dance teacher I've already mentioned - a man leading a lady is like steering a bicycle, the man using his torso/arms (frame)/wrist/hands to give the direction to and through the handlebars (ie the lady's "frame"). So if anything, think of yourself as a bicycle being steered, not a JCB having to be shoved around.
    Last edited by purplehyacinth; 4th-April-2007 at 04:21 PM. Reason: typo correction

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    Re: Learning to follow

    Quote Originally Posted by purpleheather View Post
    a man leading a lady is like steering a bicycle,
    Are you referring to anyone in particular, PH?!?

    Welcome, JCB.

    Some good replies above. I hope they help. Where do you dance?

    CJ.

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    purplehyacinth
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    Re: Learning to follow

    Sorry for doing this in two posts.

    You mentioned your "poor husband", so I thought I'd add on a couple of thoughts about him.

    Classes have a completely different function according to whether you are a leader or a follower. For the leaders, the class is where the leader learns (a) the moves and (b) to LEAD the moves. In one sense (and I'm sure someone else has said this much better somewhere else on the forum) the ladies/followers are "shop dummies" who are there for the leaders to practice leading, rather than the ladies being there actively to learn the moves.

    Both the rotation in the class and dancing in the freestyle should help your husband learn to lead - again as he will be dancing with a range of followers, so long as they do follow. One of the worst thing for leaders in the class is ladies who try to be "helpful" by backleading and putting the men where they are meant to be, rather than the men getting their by themselves.

    Again, taxi dancers may be able to assist your husband, as well as the teacher, and dancing with a range of followers in the freestyle.

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    Re: Learning to follow

    I am overwhelmed! Thank you everyone: a lot of good points to work on.
    I apologise in advance for this long post. I won’t make a habit of it.
    Hi Firefly ;
    … no I haven’t ever taken any other dance lessons. (apart from when we took a couple of Latin & Ballroom “taster” classes 5 years ago)
    Closing my eyes isn’t really an option if spins or faster turns are being led: an ear infection as a kiddie left me with dodgy balance, so I need visual cues, or I tend to fall over . On the plus side, since I took TKD classes to help overcome that, I can spin fast and on the spot. Actually, I have to spin fast, or else step around the spin much more slowly, I don’t have a medium speed spin (balance again: I can’t spot correctly if I am spinning too slowly ). But a good exercise provided I warn the leader first.
    Hello Caro;
    …we had another instructor join the class a couple of weeks back, and he said that some partners just like to feel a stronger connection, after I had missed a couple of leads, and he “amplified” the lead: I think he was just being polite. So yeah, I can misread the best!
    I understand what you mean about “muscle memory”. Bad phrasing on my part; except, is there a term for when your muscles recognise & remember something?(i.e.So you don’t have to think, ”follow the hand”, you just do)
    At our class the instructors (a husband and wife team) join in the partner rotation, after demonstrating the moves.
    Hi LMC:
    You said ”while you are both beginners, it's good for both of your dancing to dance with as many other people as possible. Until your partner is reasonably confident leading some of the beginners' moves, it might be best not to try to practise outside classes - this can lead to bad habits for both of you”
    I agree, but hubby doesn’t. I don’t know why he won’t ask others to dance during the freestyle (I think it has shaken his confidence: because I miss the lead so often, he thinks it is his fault, I guess. He said he wants to wait until his dancing improves) I can’t leave him sitting at the side, even though I don’t worry about inflicting my beginner stylings on other classmates (we’re all there to learn, right?) And the bad habits you mention have begun. F’rinstance, since learning the “half-windmill,” when he leads a catapult, his right arm, instead of being straight and angling down and back, goes into a hammerlock, bent at the elbow behind his back.
    I will try to follow your advice, and “follow the hand” (funny thing: when I try to do that without closing my eyes, I tend to “zone out” forget to smile, and get told “hey, don’t be so serious!)… so follow my hand, and smile (this dancing thing is getting complicated! )
    We dance at Dance Café and Jive+ (starting this week) in Aylesbury, Bucks.
    Hello Freya
    Hey, a put-down was the opposite of my intention, so I will definitely drop the “JCB” comment. But have you any advice on what I should say, to the next poor unfortunate who is struggling to lead me? Until I improve.
    I think I’ll keep the JCB moniker here, though. When we dance in the freestyle after class, sometimes style goes out the window, and we just have fun to the fast tunes with a lot of spins, and arms ending up at full-stretch, when I go flying off in the wrong direction!
    Who said smaller steps?
    Hello, Gadget. I remember that in the lesson, but must admit I can get carried away during the freestyle. I will watch that.

    Now, how do I convince my husband to get out there and dance with other partners?

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    purplehyacinth
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    Re: Learning to follow

    Quote Originally Posted by JCB View Post
    I
    Now, how do I convince my husband to get out there and dance with other partners?
    You may not have to....... in ceroc the ladies are allowed to - and generally do - ask the men to dance as much as the men ask the ladies. In most ceroc venues the ladies outnumber the men, so it will be a rare event for a man to be left sitting on the side all night - some lady/ladies will come up and ask him, and in ceroc as a general rule you don' t say "no" when someone asks you to dance (this rule is subject to exceptions, but there are other threads devoted to these exceptions).

    So even if you can't persuade your husband to ask others to dance, others may ask him! (And if you wanted to be really sneaky, you could always "encourage" others to ask him).

    Or you could simply encourage him by telling him that dancing with a range of partners will help his leading, as he will get experience of leading - and adjusting his lead to - a number of followers.

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    purplehyacinth
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    Re: Learning to follow

    Quote Originally Posted by CJ View Post
    Are you referring to anyone in particular, PH?!?
    CJ - I don't think I've ever actually danced with you, so I can't say whether your leading resembles steering a bicycle or not!

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    Re: Learning to follow

    Quote Originally Posted by JCB View Post
    I made a positive effort to avoid that pitfall by not memorising the order of the lesson’s moves, and trying my best to match the pressure my hand felt consistently.
    Over-focusing on this might make you a heavier or less subtle follower. Consider focusing more on reacting to the pressure on your hand, and movement of your hand, by moving your body. This might help you dancing with some of the folks you struggle to follow at the moment.

    Also, I'd recommend dancing with a decent teacher and asking them for feedback. They should be able to tell what's making you "unsubtle". There can be lots of different causes of that in terms of muscle tone and posture. It may be purely a mental thing, as I suggest above, but there may be something simple you can change about the way you're holding yourself that will help a lot.

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    Re: Learning to follow

    Quote Originally Posted by JCB View Post
    Closing my eyes isn’t really an option if spins or faster turns are being led: an ear infection as a kiddie left me with dodgy balance, so I need visual cues, or I tend to fall over
    Then open your eyes when you feel the lead for a spin (normally your momentum in one direction will be haulted for a 'push' in the other direction). It's very good advice - even if you only close your eyes for one move or a bit of a dance; it improves your "listening" through your hands.

    On the plus side, since I took TKD classes to help overcome that, I can spin fast and on the spot. Actually, I have to spin fast, or else step around the spin much more slowly~
    As long as you are aware that you spin fast; spin on the spot, finish, then step back.
    If you spin quickly, you will probably be stepping back too soon and out of time for the lead: no matter how long the spin takes, wait and step back on the next beat. You will find leads a lot smoother and easier to follow if you do this.

    I don’t know why he won’t ask others to dance during the freestyle~
    several reasons, but primaraly because he knows you. Socialise more and sit with different people - the more people you know, the more people will ask him and he will ask. We are all quite freindly

    And the bad habits you mention have begun...
    Please direct him to a taxi or teacher rather than tell him yourself. Or say "most other leads I've danced with do it this way....".

    But have you any advice on what I should say, to the next poor unfortunate who is struggling to lead me? Until I improve.
    You shouldn't have to say anything but smile and say "thank you" - if you feel the need, a simple "I'm a beginner" should do

    Now, how do I convince my husband to get out there and dance with other partners?
    Abandon him? Let him find his own way - you dance with as many people as you can. I would recommend always finding him for the last dance though

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    Re: Learning to follow

    Quote Originally Posted by MartinHarper View Post
    Over-focusing on this might make you a heavier or less subtle follower. Consider focusing more on reacting to the pressure on your hand, and movement of your hand, by moving your body. This might help you dancing with some of the folks you struggle to follow at the moment.
    I stole a tip from ElaineB (who, in turn stole it from someone fab ). When you follow your hand (as above), follow it with your belly button. This gets your body to go in the right direction.

    LMC made a useful point about not letting your elbow go behind you. That's a handy tip, too, as is Gadget's smaller steps. But most useful of all is the "smile" tip! After all, it's meant to be fun.

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    Re: Learning to follow

    Hi JCB,

    Thanks for a good thread! I'm sure it'll be useful to a whole host of people.

    Quote Originally Posted by JCB
    When we dance in the freestyle after class, sometimes style goes out the window, and we just have fun to the fast tunes with a lot of spins, and arms ending up at full-stretch, when I go flying off in the wrong direction!
    Excellent! That's what's needed - it's about having fun. When I first started I teamed up with another beginner by the name of Kelly. As we walked onto the dance floor people around us used to remove their jewellry and seek cover; we were truly awful and totally uncontrolled but we had fun!

    Taking smaller steps is a good idea. To achieve that it might be easier to focus on staying a little closer to your partner - try not to get too far away from him. That means you have to travel less distance in most moves and that, in turn, gives you more time. Quite a lot of people new to dance, both men and women, initially seek to protect their "personal space"; in consolidation classes I used to say "try to dance a tiny bit closer than you are comfortable with" and that seemed to help. (As you get more experienced your "personal space" will probably reduce to nothing!)

    Now, how do I convince my husband to get out there and dance with other partners?
    Learning to lead is tough. I clearly remember trembling with fear in my first class and being terrified of dancing with "better dancers". The first thing is to make a conscious effort to be kind to each other; for some reason, people who love each other are less polite to each other than they are to strangers (Have you ever taught someone you love to drive or played Bridge with them? Nightmare.)

    I'd ask one of the taxi dancers/coaches to ask Hubby to dance. Pick someone sympathetic and capable who is experienced enough to know that what he needs most is encouragement and positive feedback. A reasonably skilled follower with the right, sympathetic, approach will do wonders. A taxi/coach can also enlist the help of other followers; when I was coaching regularly I used to have a group of ladies who I would, discreetly, ask to dance with the leaders I'd coached that evening. The ladies weren't coaches, and some of them weren't particularly brilliant dancers, but they all had the kind of generous spirit that enabled them to provide encouragement without trying to "teach". I noticed that they tended to dance with the same beginner leaders on subsequent weeks and that provided a kind of progression. I was "taken under the wing" of a group of ladies when I first started and the encouragement and support they provided did wonders for my confidence - I didn't hit the beat, except in passing, for at least 3 months but they lied and told me I was doing well anyway! One of the delights is that dancers are, for the most part, generous spirited and like to "give something back".

    Your hubby is probably finding learning to lead intensely frustrating and difficult. I'd guess that his perception is that you are progressing much faster than he is and he'll be feeling that he's "holding you back". Try not to amplify that feeling - remember that he'll be very sensitive to criticism so be incredibly careful about what you say. I still have a habit of saying things like "Why are you doing that" to Julie when something goes pear shaped. She knows that what I'm actually saying is "Why did my lead cause you to do that" rather than critcising her but when I'm frustrated and annoyed with myself it would be easy for her to think that I'm blaming her. Because we make a conscious effort to be kind to each other that sort of misunderstanding and it's resulting tensions are avoided. (She does the same to me by the way - but I talk to myself when I'm struggling to learn while she goes silent and purse lipped so it's normally me that could be taken as being insulting).

    Being aware that learning the basics of leading is much more difficult than learning the basics of following will help you be patient - for every doubt you have about your own dancing your husband will have 10. It took me about 16 weeks to start to relax into the dance and be able to remember moves from one week to the next but I was a biff; most guys seem to take about 12 weeks.

    Have fun and remember that dancing is a learnt skill - rather than putting yourself down for the things that don't come easily congratulate yourself on what you've achieved . You're not a JCB - you're a dancer (but I like JCB as a forum name)!

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    Re: Learning to follow

    Quote Originally Posted by Lou View Post
    When you follow your hand (as above), follow it with your belly button.
    Thank you (and ElaineB) for a great tip. Tried it at the last couple of dance evenings: it is not as simple as it sounds, is it! But it improves your posture as well.

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    Re: Learning to follow


    I know: posting to my own thread again! . But I may have actually learnt something, and that's an event worth recording.
    Well, you weren't wrong: closing your eyes is a real eye-opener...if you see what I mean! . With top turns and returns, my poor partners would get a puzzled look, followed by a spin in a random direction, unless they disregarded the teacher's advice, and "stirred porridge"! It didn't improve with advice such as, "turn clockwise, unless you just finished a clockwise turn, when you should turn anticlockwise," (from an intermediate dancer, not a teacher or a taxi, BTW) But when I closed my eyes, I found I could follow the more subtle leads... sometimes. I couldn't figure out what was giving me the cue for a long while. But I think I have it now. Some leads were doing a little "polishing the halo" gesture over my head, and I found I couldn't even be sure what direction the circle was in, let alone follow it. But the lead I could follow was a tilt and gentle "twist" (sorry, I am finding it hard to describe) which somehow makes it obvious which way to turn. The instructor at our usual venue took care to try to describe the correct lead, but I couldn't feel it until I closed my eyes. But now, when an instructor, in an attempt to dissuade the porridge-stirrers, says “Just a little circle over your partners head…,” I do have an urge to shout, “No! No more halo-polishing, please!” (oh great, now everyone on the forum knows I get “urges”)
    But seriously, is the “halo-polishing” a correct lead variation?

    On a slight tangent, freestyles are still a hoot: I accidentally crashed through a cuddle ending to a loophole/octopus; I got badly out of step with my partner during a walk, and tried, and failed to get back in step, resulting in a Dawn-French-esque skippety-skip across the floor, with me nearly collapsing in silent giggles, and my bemused partner saying, “I am just walking: I do that a lot,” which just made my giggles worse: the phrase, “Can’t walk and chew gum at the same time,” jumped into my head. ( no, I wasn’t chewing gum!)

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