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Follows need no moves

If you want to advance your dancing as a follow, and indeed pick up any partner dance quickly and easily, your job as a follow is to forget doing 'moves'. To advance your following you don't need to know any 'moves' at all. That being said, when beginning to learn partner dance you do need to learn moves and configurations so that you know what the possibilities are in partner dance. Having an understanding of what is possible on the dance floor is background knowledge all follows need to know. However, if you really want to advance your following then once you know many moves put all of that knowledge away and listen with your body.

Dance configurations are for the most part are taken and shared between all sorts of partner dances, from salsa to swing to kizomba to blues and other partner dances*. What differentiates these dances is posture and rhythm, but in terms of actual 'moves' and configurations, these are by and large very similar and if you understand the two following tips, you will be able to follow any of these dances easily without 'learning' them as such.

1. Weight shifts

Weight shifts are which foot you, or your partner, are standing on in any given moment and the change between one foot and the other. When dancing, like in walking, you are either standing on your left foot or your right foot or shifting between the two. If you aren't matching the weight shifts of your partner, this is something that will trip you up (quite literally) as a follow.

When you are able to match which foot your partner is standing on, you are able to step in the direction of the flow of energy your partner is giving you. When you don't do so, you won't be able to step in the direction of energy that your partner is giving you, you will feel off balance or clunky in your steps. Being light on your feet is the ability to weight change easily, and sometimes quickly and unexpectedly, in response to what your lead is leading.

2. Listening with your whole body

Your whole body is a listening instrument. That's why the partner dance hold is vital because it's where you make your physical connection. You want your dance hold to be connected in a way that gives you maximum chance of knowing where your lead is asking your body to go.

Your dance hold will look different with every partner and will look different depending on the type of dance you are doing. It's dynamic and flowing and will change throughout the dance. Where you connect to your partner physically will be what allows you to understand what direction to move in. This requires relaxation and response throughout your body as a follow. Working on these two things is truly the art of following, not knowing 'moves'.

When dancing you don't actually need to know which moves your partner is leading you if you can listen to them with your body when dancing. Following a dance becomes an adventure of listening in the moment to your partner's leads and adding your energy and joy to whatever you create together in the moment.

*The exception to which I have found is Argentine tango. However, Argentine tango is all about weight shifts and doing a little study of this partner dance will greatly improve your ability to listen to weight changes.


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