BQOTD – What skills or concepts would you consider to be important for follows to be working on?

Liked today’s BQOTD:

“As a follow I get most out of classes and workshops when it is explicitly explained what skill or concept I should be focusing on during each exercise/move figure. What skills or concepts would you consider to be important for follows to be working on? If there were a list of the top ten skills for follows what would it include?”

Couldn’t agree more with Jake Miller’s comment:

“I really appreciate this question because (and I don’t think it’s just my scene) there is a shortage of follows going to classes and workshops. If classes are just learning new moves, it doesn’t do much good for follows who can’t make the decision later on to lead that move–they could have learned just as much from social dancing with people who did take the class”

I don’t have a list of skills/concepts but I’m interested this topic because a small group of us are trying to start a series of technique classes (probably followers only) and we’re thinking about what we can work on together.

I am currently thinking about waiting longer for the lead.

When dancing with people I know well I have gotten into the habit of responding to their lead preparation rather than their lead. E.g. them taking a deep breath in a certain way means a swingout is coming, or that weird tension in forearm/hand being the prep for a specific move.

It freaks out one particular lead because I effectively know what he’s going to do before he’s consciously done anything but it also means that I am subtly ahead of the lead.

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6 responses to “BQOTD – What skills or concepts would you consider to be important for follows to be working on?”

  1. sarahsellaphix says :

    Here are some major developments that changed my following that I didn’t learn in any class. Usually these I sorted out on my own ‘in the wild’ or some older, wiser follow told taught me.

    + TWOS. Follows have to juggle the changing basic steps of a dance, plus their own and their leads rhythmic improvisations. Follows should be aware of a basic set of footworks that add up to two counts. It’s not only vital to learn how to improvise WITHIN solid rhythm, but as a way to get out of a mistake smoothly like you meant to do that.

    — step, step
    — kick, ball-change
    — triple step
    — step, hold
    — hold hold
    — hold, ball-change
    ETC

    + UNDERSTANDING ARMS. It’s not just about relax and frame. Safety, strength and responsiveness are really helped when we understand the range of motion of our joints. Extending in the wrong direction can cause us to injure ourselves, look weird, and miss leads. Hard to describe, but an example is, most of the time, I want to avoid allowing the elbow of my connected arm to go behind me.

    + FOLLOW THROUGH. Follow through’s probably the vaguest thing here, but it has to do with continuing through a line or shape either your or your partner created for you. Following through makes your movement deliberate and complete, it makes you predictable (which means that your intentions are clear which is awesome for a cooperative dance) and you don’t kill the momentum. Following through finds those moments of extension and compression at the edges of our connection.

    + SET UP and OPPOSITES. This can totally be a lead thing, but it’s been important for my following to. Every movement has a prep to it. When we throw a baseball we wind up. When we jump we squat down first. Understanding and embracing set ups can help you cooperate more with a lead, but also communicate to your lead what you want to add.

    That’s all I have for now. 🙂

    • sleepingglitter says :

      Thanks for your comments.

      Not sure if it’s her term but I like Nina Gilkenson’s idea of flowmentum. It’s one of the things I think we’ll work on in our followers group. I would say it’s similar to following through but there’s following through and then there’s FOLLOWING THROUGH both might be right depending on the circumstances but as a follower it’s pretty hard to know where you are on that scale without any feedback.

  2. sarahsellaphix says :

    Also, I don’t have a Facebook, but I was super annoyed reading through BQOD at people who responded to a question of skills with softy-softy crap about how follows should emotionally feel. Patience, confidence, never say sorry, love yourself, hug your mom, live every day as if…!

    C’mon. Following isn’t this ethereal state of mind, it’s not magic that will just happen if your mind is open and you just relax. I once relaxed so much I fell asleep on the dance floor, but I STILL missed the lead to tandem Charleston. What gives?

    It is a good thing to talk about following being skills, strategies and dancing techniques. 🙂

  3. depresseddancer says :

    Ack, I was going with the fluffy responses, but if you want snarky specifics:

    Shape that Swingout!
    A messed up tango promenade position has no place in Savoy swing. Despite notions to the contrary, no lead wants your breasts rammed into his arm at high speed. I’m working on keeping my shoulders facing my lead and keep it all oval. You want to be the dogs b******s? Dance like you’re on a dog track!

    Four to the Fore
    Making it round by the four is one of the swing out grails to me. If you’re not round and facing your lead by then, you don’t stand a chance of making it back it, you’re going to get hoiked about, and you’ll be behind. It’s something I struggled with, and I see other follows have a hard time too, especially when we’re taught to swivel as standard, not decoration.

    (Tip)Toe the Line
    I like my Lindy dirty and grounded. If I wanted to flounce on tippy toes I’d have stuck with ballet. I reeeaaaally dislike Lindy Hop danced on tip toe, unless you’re going all the way en pointe like the fab showcase at Camp Hollywood this year.

    Goodness, I sound like a right mardy moo!

  4. kibblewhite says :

    PTTED – Those who know will know 😉

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