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The two qualities that make an amazing follower

posted May 5, 2014, 2:57 PM by Sophia de Lautour   [ updated Sep 18, 2017, 11:12 PM ]

I'm sure all followers would prefer that the effect of their dancing on their partner was enjoyment and a desire for more dances, rather than boredom and relief that it's over! 

Many women wonder why they are not getting invited by the men with whom they want to dance with. What, they wonder, does it take attract more dance invitations from great dancers?  

The two qualities that make an amazing follower are:
  1. Being an equal partner in the relationship
  2. Bringing oneself fully to the dance
Being an equal partner in the relationship

"It's OK if you misread some leads; it doesn't matter if your embrace isn't perfect; it's not that important that your decorations are beautiful and your posture is elegant. The most important thing of all is this: you can be aware of the other person, committed to them, but never dependent on them."

Terpsi, who both leads and follows, reflects on one of her favourite dance partners...

"When I dance with her, I have complete confidence that she will find her own axis, will have her own balance, will do something (even if occasionally the 'wrong' thing, perhaps, because we are all human and probably my lead is wrong anyway) but something that is comfortable for her body and makes sense with the music. That she will never lean on me ... will not put weight on me, will not make me feel I have to carry or assist or sustain her. She gives me the sensation that she can handle herself and that, followers, is crucial...

Because it's a crucial distinction that is often forgotten. In tango, you need to commit to the embrace, you need to be aware of, sensitive to, responsive to your partner. But never abjectly depend on them. You always need to be able to handle yourself. And, if you can, you'll find that many leaders will enjoy dancing with you, even if your dance isn't perfect. Because it's great to have an equal partner in your arms and to be a dancer not a babysitter." 
Bringing oneself fully to the dance

The second essential quality is that you bring yourself fully to the dance..

"As I get more experience in this dance, I'm finding myself more and more attracted to follows who bring themselves, fully, to the dance with me. More and more, I appreciate it when follows are committed to being who they are, not who "the lead" wants them to be."  (Hans Peter Myer) 

Of course, as the cliche goes -"it takes two to tango". All the above mentioned qualities similarly apply to leaders. The best leaders also need to, in the words of Terpsi "have their shit together"!

That said, passive, submissive dancing tends to be more common with followers, many of whom have an erroneous view of the following role. This can be the result of misinterpreting what it means to 'follow' or 'surrender' in the dance , bad teaching, dancing with partners who encourage this view, or a combination thereof.

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