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Flowing as a follow

As a follow, your part in the partner dance is to take the energy/momentum that your partner gives you, carry it through your body and embellish it. How you hold your body is important to give you the best chance of feeling and responding to the momentum your lead is giving you. So I would like to propose the concept of 'yielding' to help you understand the way to do this. In yielding we let go and become immersed in the experience that is facing us. This is in contrast to resisting or controlling.

In my work teaching dance, I find this a difficult thing for follows to allow. I feel it is in large a reflection of society, always asking us to be 'on', 'ready' and in charge of everything we do in life. To be controlling of the outcomes we want to see instead of allowing the flow of where life is taking us. This is a huge teaching partner dance can provide, but once that teaching has been realised, there's pure pleasure in yielding to the dance as a follow.

What does yielding look and feel like?

When I stand with my partner, even before we've begun dancing, I yield myself to my partner, and what this looks like is relaxing into the physical hold that we have. I let my partner take the weight of my hand and I relax into the arm around the back, or any other places that we make a physical connection. Just like you might do if you were hugging someone. You don't collapse your whole weight onto them, but connect with them in a soft, gentle way, letting them know that you are there and receptive to what they're going to bring to the dance.

My lead will be strong and assertive but not forceful or aggressive in their movement in the dance. I call it an invitation. When I feel this invitation to move I can let go into yielding to the movement and find my flow. As a follow, I also yield and accept what my lead wants to bring and is capable of bringing to the dance. There's no space for wishing this dance were different or hoping that 'this' or 'that' might occur. I feel what is given and respond.

When two people are respecting of how the other moves, then a beautiful dance can unfold and the follow, like the flow of a river can be carried away with the momentum the lead is giving.


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