Defensive following

Went to a really interesting Bal class last week, the teachers were trying something new and I enjoyed the approach.  For part of the class the leaders and followers split and the followers discussed out and ins and how to cope when they are being poorly led. For me the conclusion was to follow less and think about what I would describe as defensive following.  Some of the things we talked about were:

  • Really relaxing right arm, hand, fingers/not responding to leaders tension
  • Ways to get out of the tension cycle
  • How to let go of frame to protect shoulders
  • Moving hand and arm position to protect ourselves
  • How to dampen the bumper car effect when you being pinged out and in
  • How to rotate subtly within leaders frame to avoid grasping and inappropriately placed hands

I think defensive following is something I do in Lindy Hop fairly unconsciously but because I’m far less experienced at Bal I try very hard to follow what the leader is doing.  (Plus I am trying really hard to focus on my the following at the mo and cut out some of the habitual things I do that are unhelpful)

I think that’s the first class I have ever taken where time was spent thinking specifically about a follower’s needs and what a follower can do to help and protect  themselves. Made a nice change to thinking about how a follower should respond and meet a leader’s needs.

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4 responses to “Defensive following”

  1. Freddie Karlbom says :

    Could you expand on “HOW TO LET GO OF FRAME TO PROTECT SHOULDERS” and where, and how that would apply? To me that just sounds weird as I think of frame as positioning your body so that you are ready to activate the right muscle groups in order to always be ready to respond and avoid getting hurt.

    • sleepingglitter says :

      It’s hard to explain this in words but during the class we experimented with matching frame when someone was yanking you around so you got a bouncing off the leader sort of effect. Then we experimented relaxing the follower frame whilst the leader did the same thing to ‘soften’ out the dance and to give the dance the appearance of smoothness.

  2. * says :

    Good things.

    Perhaps the harder thing is actually learning how to talk to your partner about what is going on in the dance, and being gracious about suggestions that will help the partnership. It’s tricky, but perhaps that’s why it needs practice.

    Teachers can also help their students *practice* an open communication, so in case you are continuously thrown around, you can practice graciously saying something to your partner, to work better together, and they can practice graciously receiving that advice.

  3. LadyD says :

    Interesting post…
    I find following so hard in social dancing, when I can’t ‘keep up’ with the lead…then feel embarrassed coz I haven’t been able to follow the lead properly like I’m messing it up for them.

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