The key to smooth leading

The key to smooth leading

So what is the key to smooth leading?  The number one thing that helps you lead in a way that flows effortlessly from one move to the next is to:

Use the momentum of your follow.

However, to go deeper than that, I’d like to point out that using your follow’s momentum also comes down to how you think about the leading role.  If leading leaves you feeling stagnant or bored of your own moves then it could be that, as a lead, you feel it’s your responsibility to make the dance happen.

Take the pressure off yourself
If you feel like you have to make up all the moves – every single one of them – all the time, it’s going to leave you feeling creatively drained.  So you can start to let the flow of the dance be a joint effort between you and your follow. You can take the pressure off yourself to make everything up, keep the dance going, or always be coming up with the ideas, because it’s a partner dance and keeping it moving is not your responsibility alone.  By giving space for your follow’s movements to influence the dance you can open yourself up to be inspired by this and to help you lead the next move.

Follow the energy of your follow
So the secret to flowing leading is to use the follow’s momentum and direction to guide you into the next move instead of thinking you need to decide which move comes after which move.  As a lead, get into the habit of noticing where and how the follow is moving.  What foot is your follow on?  What direction is your follow travelling?

Using this information is what makes your moves flow from one to the next.  If you understand the momentum of your follow and use it to inspire the next move, the dance becomes endless movement instead of finite move after finite move.  It makes your leading so much easier because you don’t need to think about which move to lead next, you just continue the follow’s momentum in whichever direction they’re already travelling.  This doesn’t mean that you aren’t still in the leading role, you are.  You are still giving movement/energy/direction to the dance, but now you are using the momentum already created together instead of starting a new move with a new direction or different energy over and over.

When you use the energy of your follow to inform how you are going to direct the next movement, you are also opening up space for more creativity in your partnership.  If you’re not in charge of leading every little movement, that leaves space for you to notice how the follow is interpreting the moves you’ve initiated. You can really see how your follow is enjoying your leading and you can play off that, sparking your own ideas and creativity.


Photo credit: Scott Robinson