Round Dance Tips by Tim Eum —
Follow My Lead
Good leading and
following will not only make your dancing look better, but will
actually make it easier to do. The first thing you need to know is
that "men cannot lead if the follower doesn't know the figures."
Some have said that this isn't true -- that the man can lead things
the follower doesn't know -- but the idea is
the leader shouldn't have to "muscle" a follower into the
next figure but instead make simple subtle leads -- and the follower
cannot follow if she doesn't know what the subtle leads lead to and thus
The second thing
know is a good closed position and the frame that goes with it. It is
from this that leading comes. The man moves the entire closed
position or at least the upper frame and the lady responds by moving
with it. Note that the man doesn't lead simply with his hands or his
arms -- he leads with the entire frame -- everything moves as one
unit. He moves the entire frame and the lady moves to keep it filled.
Here are a couple
clever training aids:
The first uses
a styrofoam cup. The man places this between his right hand and the
lady's back. If the man makes the common mistake of pressing the lady
into him, it will crush the cup. The man is to move his whole frame,
leaving his right hand out away from him the same distance all the
time. The lady "fills" the frame by expanding back into the man's arms.
training aid is a broom stick. A couple holds this with their lead
hands and on top of their trail arm elbows and it naturally lays in
between the couple. If the couple dips back and does not move the whole
frame properly the broom stick will move to choke or slap one of the
dancers. The proper thing to do is to move the entire frame as a single
unit even while dipping back and thus leave the broom stick evenly
between the dancers.
Once the man has a
frame that he can move as one unit, the lady should be able to feel
when the frame and the man’s body move forward, back, left, or
right and then be able to move with him by keeping her body full in
the man’s frame and thus being part of it, moving as one unit. Once
this is achieved, the couple can learn and practice subtler leads and
follows such as rising & falling, sways, hovering, turning from
closed position to other positions, visual leads in open positions,
rondes, slip pivots, and other such movements.
When a couple
the above techniques well, it is a joy to see. The couple glides from
one movement to another, as one, and it is beauty in motion.
Adapted from notes taken during a
technique clinic given by Michael & Diana Sheridan at
Round-A-Rama Institute at Purdue University, August 2012; published
in Footnotes In the Round, LRDTA, March/April 2013; reprinted Dixie Round Dance Council Newsletter, October 2013.