Read: lindy hop followers bring themSELVES to the dance
Life has got in the way of dancing and blogging recently but I’ve been catching up with the Lindy blogosphere over the weekend and the following post really resonated with me. Dogpossum’s “lindy hop followers bring themSELVES to the dance; lindy hop leaders value this“. There’s some good stuff in this post and the breakdown of Mickey & Frida’s Invitational Jack ‘n Jill dance at ILHC 2009 is definitely worth a read.
I think the idea that a female follower (and I am talking about women, because most followers in Australia are female) should somehow moderate her creative self expression by ‘just following’ a leader is utter rot.
This made me think about my previous post and I’ve changed my mind about leading and following analogies, I think they are useful but they need to change depending on the level of the people who are dancing. I’m probably not alone in having danced with a beginner, unconsciously thrown in a variation (possibly just a twist twist instead of a rock step) which has thrown the leader to such an extent that he had to stop the dance to regroup. I think there is a level at which a follower needs to ‘simply follow’ and many beginnerish leaders ‘need’ a follower to be passive to develop their skills. As leaders and followers become more experienced and develop their communication skills then the dynamic changes and the analogy needs to change. I’ve yet to make up make up mind where I think the other end of the spectrum should lie. All I know is that I do not have the skill to start adding clouds to a dance without seriously disrupting the Lindy Hop leaders I usually dance with. I really like Dogpossum’s comment:
Much more importantly, a good leader should be continually adjusting their leading – the moves they select, they way they change their weight, the way they make the music visible – to suit the follower. This is how I try to lead. I feel that because I have the power to choose the moves, I owe it to the follower to accommodate her abilities, interests and mood. This is what I owe her.
This seems like something Frankie Manning might have said and I can only imagine how awesome a lead Dogpossum must be. The second part of this post that really grabbed my attention is:
There is almost always a shortage of men of a higher dancing ability in a scene, and there is often a sense of competition between women dancers for the attentions of male partners. On the social and competitive dance floor. This competition is seldom articulated, is demonstrated more through the oblique social manoeuverings that characterise women’s power dynamics more generally, and to speak about these issues at all is to jeopardise your future possible partnerships.
The reason this resonated with me is because I want to improve my dancing. To improve my dancing I want to dance with the better leads. To dance with the better leads I need start competing with other women for their attention. (Of course to really be in with a chance it would help if I changed how I dressed, lost a few pounds, was at 10 least years younger, etc.) Trouble is I’m really not interested in playing the necessary games right now.
I feel like I am at a crossroads. Do I carry on dancing with the more unusual leaders who care about having fun, come up with strange combinations of ballroom jive, Ceroc, rock and roll and wedding/Dad dance moves, don’t give a dam about how their dancing looks, but do care about responding to the music in a way that’s full of creativity and self-expression even if it’s horrible to do watch. Or do I change in a way that allows me to dance with the better leads who want to focus on proper technique, known steps, looking good and accurate following? Do I drop the fun factor and tone down the self-expression for dedication, constant criticism/review and advancement? I’m not suggesting either approach is right or wrong, just feel somewhat frustrated that it seems impossible to do both and that followers must make a choice that leaders don’t have to make.