6 Secrets To Being An Awesome Dance Partner

November 19, 2020

Secret #1: Use Good Lead And Follow

Secret #1

Being a good Leader or Follower is the first secret to being an awesome dance partner.  It is the real and true grit of two partners dancing smoothly together.  There are two pieces when we talk about a dance partnership.  When two people are dancing in close contact, the two partners have to coordinate their moves.  If each person is making their own decisions, choosing their own timing and doing their steps independently, then the partnership doesn’t work. To be an awesome dance partner, you have to do your part!  So one person has to lead, and the other follow. 

The leader directs the movement, and the follower reacts to the leader’s directions. A good leader cares about what is comfortable for their partners.  They offer the lead in a light and clear way.  They refrain from exerting more force than necessary to get their partner to accept the offer, also known as a heavy lead.  And no, a heavy lead is not one of the secrets to being an awesome dance partner! 

The secret is to communicate in a way that is certain without being too forceful.  A good leader is the “navigator” of the dance, and you will need to use good floor craft to ensure you avoid collisions with other couples (another secret discussed later in this article).  Another big part of your role as a leader is to bring out the best in your partner, which we will also discuss later in this article.  So as a leader, secret #1 is focusing on your lead, which will make you an awesome dance partner.  And you will be a very popular partner to dance with!

As a follower, your role is to respond and interpret the offer from the leader.  That means you have to “listen” to the communicated nonverbal signals the leader is giving you.   You, as a follower, have the great pleasure of being the most creative one in the partnership while still responding to your leads. It is you who observers will be watching.  You will have the privilege to create exceptional lines and execute beautiful spins without having to worry about what comes next.  You become an extension of the leader’s vision, and can enhance the partnership with your sense of style. 

So from the follower’s perspective, if you want to be an awesome dance partner, you will not try to take control of the lead, or hijack the lead as it is sometimes referred to.  A good follower never tries to do that even when dancing with a weaker lead.  When you have no care about the level of your dance partner, and don’t dance appropriately to their level, then you become an individual rather than a partner.  This kind of follower chooses to sacrifice the partnership to fulfill their own personal vision.  And no, this type of behavior is not one of the secrets to being an awesome dance partner. 

As a follower, it is your job to make your leader still feel good about the dance even if they need more practice. So you as a follower will remain diligent in your role as a follower, no matter what.  This is secret #1 for followers if you want to be an awesome dance partner.

Secret #2: Don’t Teach, Correct Or Critique Your Partner’s Dancing

Secret #2

And now we move into an area which I am very adamant about, and this one thing will cause you to be very Unpopular as a dance partner.  In our list of 6 secrets to being an awesome dance partner, this is the one that will make you or break you as a desirable dance partner.  Simply stated, don’t teach, correct, or critique your dance partner for any reason.  In general, if you’re in a social dance situation, the whole point of being there is to relax and have fun. A good dance partner does not get worked up or upset that your partner isn’t as good as you’d like them to be.  From either side of the partnership, nothing feels worse than for your partner to correct you or give negative comments. 

If you want to give a complement, those are always welcome, and will go a long way in making you a popular dance partner. But criticism or correction of any kind, even when your intentions are good, will not go over well. 10 out of 10 times the person you’re giving negative comments to will think you’re rude. This is the most common complaint that I hear!  Unless someone hired you to be his/her dance teacher, you should not be telling them what to do on the dance floor.

Trying to give corrections or teach on the dance floor just leads to frustrations and hard feelings. It’s one dance after all.  Just be polite, dance out the rest of the song, and thank them for the dance.  If it was truly a terrible experience, you don’t have to invite or accept another dance with this person.  But during the dance, just treat your partner with kindness.  So Secret #2 is one of the best pieces of advice I can give you.  To be an awesome dance partner, strive to always be positive, encouraging, and supportive to your dance partners.

Secret #3:   Engage And Connect With Your Partner

Secret #3

Dancing is a dialogue between two people.  Without any spoken words, it can be strike up a harmony that could never exist in verbal conversation.  It can create a bond between complete strangers who have never met before.  One of most difficult things to master in ballroom dance or any style of partner dancing is not the steps.  It’s the engagement with your partner!  

Engagement and connection mean you are “present” in the partnership.  It means you make eye contact, and treat your partner with respect, consideration, and your full attention.  Especially When dancing with someone new, smile, say hello, and introduce yourself. Try to connect and engage fully without overdoing it.  When you stare or hold a new partner too tightly, that can put your partner on the defensive.  I think you know what I mean by overdoing it.  Just be yourself, and be cool, but present in the dance.

Your connection with your partner is what makes that person feel like you want to dance with them.  It’s also a sign of respect that you are interested in having this dance with them.  When you connect with your partner in a way that is supportive, it becomes a more enjoyable experience for both of you.  So the 3rd secret to being an awesome dance partner is connection.  Again, connection is how dancing feels to you and your partner—not necessarily how it looks.  When you help your partner have fun, you’re being an awesome dance partner.  Plus you’ll enjoy yourself more too! 

Secret #4: Dance On Time To The Music

Secret #4

In dance, timing refers to moving to the beat of the music.   People hear music differently; one person hears the up beat, the next person hears the down beat, the third one may not be able to hear the beat at all!  Realistically, finding the beat of the music can be difficult for new dancers. People often say they can’t dance because they have “no rhythm.”  But rhythm can be learned. 

The ability to hear the beat of a song is important when learning how to keep time to music.  This is  because both you and your partner will depend on each other to be in sync to hit certain moves at precisely the same point in the music.

Music determines the tempo and rhythm, and a great partner will not only hear the music, but stay on time with it.  It just feels awkward to dance off time, and as a follower, it is seriously more challenging to follow a lead who sets no clear rhythm.  So the 4th of my 6 secrets to being an awesome dance partner is to dance on time with the music.

Secret #5: Use Good Floor Craft

Secret #5

Floor craft is a Ballroom dance term which describes the necessary ability to avoid collisions with other couples on the ballroom dance floor.  It is a part of good ballroom dance etiquette.  This is a skill that mainly applies to the leader, but both dancers have some role to play in avoiding collisions.  Keeping  traffic moving around line-of-dance is also part of Floor craft. This means not stopping and blocking other dancers behind you if there is an empty space in front of you. As a good leader using good floor craft, it’s your responsibility to stay aware of other couples and be ready to improvise as needed.

Just because you have great technique, connection, timing, and strong lead/follow doesn’t mean you are going to be a great dance partner.  You also must know how to navigate (gracefully) through a packed dance floor.   This means you need to know where you want to go and how you’re going to get there. And you have to be able to predict what other couples are going to do and what direction they might be going in.   When there is a collision (and hopefully it doesn’t cause an injury), it’s best to recover quickly and begin dancing again as soon as possible.  Apologize to the other couple even when it isn’t your fault.   

As a follower, there are some things you can do to help out with good floor craft.  When the leader is going backwards, the follower can be looking over the leader’s shoulder, watching out for other dancers.  If you, the follower, perceive a potential collision, you can squeeze his left hand to let him know so he should make adjustments.

Whether you are a lead or a follow, it’s up to you to keep yourself and your partner safe.  Even though it can be difficult on crowded floors, it’s well worth cultivating the skill.  Because no matter how great a dancer you are, you won’t be an awesome dance partner if you’re creating a dangerous environment. Therefore, good floor craft is one of my 6 secrets for being an awesome dance partner.

Secret #6: Thank Your Partner

Secret #6

Appreciation for the dance is like reading the final chapter of a book.  It’s not finished until the last page.  So in order to be an awesome dance partner, it’s important to remember to thank your partner for the dance at the end of the song.  If you are leaving your partner on the dance floor, make sure you thank him/her before you walk away.  If you are escorting your partner off the dance floor, you can thank them once you’ve finished walking them back.

Even If you didn’t like the dance, try and still be as pleasant as possible. You don’t have to dance with him/her again if you didn’t like it.  The value of using simple social graces cannot be measured or emphasized enough.  So the last of my 6 secrets to being an awesome dance partner is to be gracious, and to say a simple “Thank you” and mean it.

Some of our best lived moments can be spent on the dance floor. One of the main reasons for dancing, apart from meeting new people, is to have fun. Sometimes we forget this important detail, because we are so concentrated on doing incredible turns or seeing how fast we can spin the person we are dancing with. Believe me, doing something simple is often the most enjoyable when executed well. Remember it has to be fun for the person you are dancing with as well as for you.

SOURCE https://glitteredjourneys.com/