In a TED-Ed talk inspired by Ira Chaleff based on his book The Courageous Follower, it shows that both parties, whether they are taking the leader or follower role, have their own parts to play. This is clearly illustrated in the Tango demonstration in the video.
While the purpose of using the concept of Tango in this talk is more for daily life applications, we do not only need to apply this to Tango, but also for our other dances in general (be it for Salsa, Bachata, Waltz, Rumba…)
Role of Leading in Dance
Most people assume that being the “leader” means to “take full control of the follower”. This is most certainly not the case. What they forget is that the followers have just as much power to refuse where the leader takes them (as shown at 4:05).
Leading is about suggesting the follower to move in certain directions. If the follower feels confident and comfortable with this decision, she will go along with the direction. However, if the follower is not confident and is unable to do the suggested moves, it is the leader’s job to bring it down to levels that the follower can handle with enough confidence.
Role of Following in Dance
Similarly, being the follower does not mean “blindly follow what the leader tells me to do” or to be dragged around the floor like a sack of potatoes. Good followers, instead, will take in the signals from the leader, and follow through with the suggested step that the leader gives.
However, there are times when the follower may not feel comfortable with what the leader is doing (especially if the leader is possibly doing something that feels disrespectful) and has the power to stop with the following. Many followers, particularly beginners, forget this when faced with leaders they might not necessarily want to dance with. Choosing when to not follow is just as important; followers have just as much of a say in dancing as much as the leaders.
In any partnership, as brief as a 3 minute dance on the floor or a long-term deal, both leaders and followers have just as much of a say in their roles. Simply knowing which part you’re playing will bring much more joy in any dance partnership.
Over to you: What do you think of leaders and followers in dance? Let me know in the comments below. If you’ve enjoyed this article, share it with your friends who may need some advice on leading or following.
Video Source: Ira Chaleff
Information Source: Leaders and Followers: What Tango Teaches (by TED-Ed)