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Lead & Follow


The term "Girl Power", as coined by the Spice Girls in the early '90s, can be applied to most areas of life these days, with women enjoying equality and independence to make Ginger Spice proud. However, in partner dancing, two dancers are sometimes not equal. One becomes the Lead and the other the Follower.

The Lead (conventionally the male in a mixed-sex couple) is responsible for choosing appropriate steps to suit the music (if it is an improvised dance), and leading the Follower by using subtle signals to perform the dance. If the dance is a choreographed routine, the Lead is sometimes responsible for initiating each move, which ensures good coordination between the two dancers.
Of course, this demands a great deal of communication and respect between dance partners. Ladies taking up dance for the first time will find enormous differences between the way different people lead and will need to learn how to allow their partner to enhance the dance.
The degree to which the Lead controls depends on the dance style, dancer sensitivity, the social context in which the dance exists and even the experiences and personalities of each dancer. Some partner dances such as Lindy Hop involve an open position which encourages each partner to improvise alone, yet others, such as Argentine Tango may involve a "close embrace" or closed position which require Followers to follow the Lead more closely.
For the Leader and Follower to interact with each other, communication between them is paramount and this is often delivered via visual and physical cues. Dancers will recognise these cues through their connection, with the Follower using it to communicate feedback to the Leader just as the Leader uses it to suggest moves to their partner. The most accomplished dancers use connection as a line of communication which allows the leader to incorporate the Follower's ideas, abilities, and creative suggestions into their own styling and selection of moves.
This non-verbal communication is a real art and will improve with practice; harmony and understanding between yourself and your dance partner will take your dancing to another level.