Fascinating stuff from Nathan Bugh – Ladies first

Fascinating stuff from Nathan Bugh – Ladies first

…when it comes to learning and teaching lead/follow skills, the follower’s technique is a much higher priority than the leader’s. Her dancing ability, her awareness, strength, balance, use of the floor, etc. are the elements from which spring her following ability AND the leader’s leading ability. She is the beginning of the logic in the dance. In class, the followers empower the leaders to learn. Leaders judge their progress according to the results that their partners embody. Followers are the focus of the lead/follow process, and they have to follow before the leaders can lead….

Although I agree with this:

“Oftentimes, good following is the answer to bad leading. For example: the best way to help a slow leader is to wait for him”

You also need this to happen:

“If you are a leader, have patience with the teachers who are follower-focused, because they are actually working for you too! Be kind to your partners, and encourage your partners to dance honestly. Don’t make your partner feel pressured to act out the steps you are attempting to lead. Make sure she gets, from you, the support she needs to master her technique.”

In my experience, it’s pretty rare that a lead will give you the support necessary to do this. I know I am a pretty sh*t follower. I know this because during class I get tutted at, given disapproving stares, been told I am not doing it right, been told it must be me because the move works with everyone else, get plenty suggestions about how to improve, and during one particularly humiliating class, I’ve even been told by a leader that they didn’t want to practise with me because I was doing the move wrong and they didn’t want to learn the wrong technique!

Sometimes I wonder why I still dance!

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2 responses to “Fascinating stuff from Nathan Bugh – Ladies first”

  1. sothatshowiwork says :

    I’ve never danced with you so I cannot speak to your actual abilities, but you speak to following in a way that makes me think you can’t be all that bad. I’ve occasionally switched dance styles and in the beginning had people socially “lead” moves that everyone in their scene knew. When I didn’t do anything, some have looked at me with confusion and some have tried to let me in on the secret of what they were doing. From your description of people not wanting to practice with you, I’d guess that they are Nathan’s catagory B lead. Unfortunate you’ve had to take classes with these people.

    • sleepingglitter says :

      My comments really relate to workshops.

      I learnt to dance in an extremely friendly welcoming scene, lots of very supportive leads who would offer very helpful feedback (not trying to teach, more supportive suggestions). Getting feedback from your partner in my local classes is pretty unusual; it’s one of our cultural norms that teachers give feedback not students.

      Workshops are another matter entirely. I think there’s something about workshops that brings out a competitive streak in most of us. Pretty understandable, if the workshop is levelled then most of us are going to want to prove we belong there, immediately get the move right and impress. If your lead or follow isn’t “doing it right’ it makes us look bad and so on.

      The leader who made the comment about not practicing with me is well known for not having the best people skills and for being a little odd – it was still humiliating though!

      Follows can be equally dismissive and badly behaved!

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