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Followers: Are you maximizing your great dances?

Followers, have you ever had a mediocre dance night? What about nights that needed to have a really great dance with a really great lead to get back on track, or nights with “not enough (good) leads”?

What if there were a way to maximize how many good dances you had from the available pool of leaders?

A Leader’s Perspective

As an ambidanceterous person (I both lead and follow), I can tell you that the way a follow interacts with me has a massive impact on whether the dance goes well.

For example, I have had top-level follows who came to the dance with excitement and openness. Those dances are among my highlights. I’ve also had top-level follows who came to the dance with an unreadable or apathetic energy. Those dances have largely been flat and uninspired. The difference in these cases was not the skill level (these follows were equally accomplished); it was the energy that the follow brought to their dance with me.

When I lead someone who is excited to dance with me and is willing to work with what I can do, more possibilities open up. I feel inspired to be more musical, and get out of my pattern box. I am inspired to relax, have fun and connect. In contrast, if I dance with someone who is waiting for me to perform to a certain standard, my dance becomes more flat and dull. I make fewer artistic choices, and more “safe”, boring ones. I spend a lot of the dance managing insecurity as opposed to enjoying the dance.

I’ve noticed this same trend in follows across different levels: those that create engagement and excitement on their end are much more likely to get a good dance out of me than those that do not. This isn’t because I consciously want to give better or worse dances; it’s because having a follower engage and create with me gives me the confidence in the partnership to do more, better.

Active Contribution

The engagement that helps leads do better is active contribution. This goes beyond taking responsibility for your own dance (active following). Active contribution is where the follower takes responsibility for the dance as an experience between the partners. It means accepting and owning that what we bring to a dance as a follow directly impacts what the outcome of the experience will be.

This can include:

  • Matching or creating the energy/space you want in the connection

  • Positive body language (which may include smiling, laughing, eye contact, or behaviour)

  • “Picking up the slack” in led movements that aren’t perfect but are followable

  • Adding your own flair (where appropriate and comfortable) as opposed to “just following”

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