Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Lead Adjusting 101 - Patterns

Clueless Alert:
Adjust your patterns to your partner, or you will create a set of women who dislike dancing with you.

Here's a frustratingly common scene: Some lead is pushing his partner through a difficult double or triple turn, and she's holding on for dear life. Then he does it again, clearly ignoring the terror in her eyes. He tries a double hammerlock when she struggles on the singles. She stumbles or barely keeps up during a cross-body move, but he keeps trying complicated moves the whole song, yanking and pulling his partner while she is trying to catch her breath and get through the sequences.

Or the classic: A guy puts a lady into a "T-Stance" or releases her so she can solo, and her face flashes the “deer in the headlight” look; she's a newer dancer and doesn't feel confident doing those solo moves. He doesn’t notice and blindly leaves her hanging out there way too long, letting her do basic and feeling like a loser. If the guy is really clueless, he'll do some things he considers "fancy footwork," while she watches and does basic, wondering when this moment will end so she can go hide. Maybe he thinks his “magical dancing” will impress her. The reality, however, is that at this particular moment, she hates him.

When I see these things, I think, "That guy doesn't know he doesn't know." He isn't paying attention, he isn't dancing WITH his partner, he is simply trying to show the other guys that he knows some complex patterns and shines.

BAD CHOICE! Most of the time, these guys are doing intense moves that have no relationship to the music, and they really don't lead them very well. The look on the lady's face clearly shows she dislikes him, and anybody watching can see it a mile away. Do complex moves with experienced women when the music is right and give the less experienced partners room to breath. If you put your partner in a position to solo and you see she is struggling, go back to partner moves as soon as practical, and use your body language to let her know you're fine with that.

The real art of social dancing is keeping your follow interested without pushing her into the terror zone constantly, and scaling your dancing so you use appropriate patterns for your partner, while still creating the right feel for the music.

The Bottom Line
Watching your partner and adjusting is critical to success in social dancing. Do it badly, and she'll tell all her friends that you don't have a clue and they should avoid you. If you pay attention to their face, you'll see her light up when you are doing it right, no matter what her technical skills are today. She'll happily dance with you next time you ask if you simply watch and adjust to her level.

Nature's way is simple and easy, but men prefer what is intricate and artificial.
- Lao Tzu

1 comment:

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Don Baarns - Unlikely Salsero