Skip to 2.23 – vagina swivels:
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!
Interesting program available for the next 6 days:
“Jazz was once revolutionary, but is now arguably part of the heritage industry. Paul Morley meets performers, critics and passionate punters to test the contention that jazz is dead – a victim of its own history. Featuring Geoff Dyer, Paul Gilroy, Seb Rochford, Gary Crosby, Laura Jurd, Nick Smart and Chris Hodgkins.” [via LondonJazz]
First broadcast: Tuesday 01 January 2013
6 days left to listen
Duration: 30 minutes
Jazz Is Dead
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.
Another weekend, another workshop, another disappointment. I’m not going to name the workshop because many people (mostly leaders) enjoyed it and what you get out of a workshop has a lot to do with your own goals, experience, preferences and the level you are in.
Perhaps it’s enough to say that this was one of those workshops where (in my track/level) the leads got to try out new techniques, learnt new moves and got instruction from the teaching staff. The follows, well we got to follow (although manhandled might have been a more appropriate description at times) and then we got to follow some more. There was nothing for the follows to work on, no advice about technique other than a quick comment about keeping rotation going at the end of a turn, no correction from the teaching staff (e.g. follower not getting a move, leader tries it on teacher, teacher can follow it, teacher moves quickly on), no styling tips…
I tried to be positive, watched the teacher’s technique and styling and tried to emulate, embraced the opportunity to focus on following and meeting new people and so on but this was an expensive workshop, I learnt very little, I have a sore back and bruise on my side from some rather forceful leading, I spent my weekend in an overcrowded room worrying about/being rammed into someone else rather than following what my leader was doing and I danced with the people I always dance with due to uninspiring music and very long band songs (ok, this one is my fault).
I had high really high hopes. I am really disappointed. I feel like I have just wasted an awful lot of money.
Right, think that’s out of my system. Time to move on!
2 dance goals for next year…
1: Get over my counterbalance phobia and learn how to dance with a lot of counterbalance
2: Learn how to dance Hollywood style (as taught locally) and nail the styling