I'm often asked to teach follows how to be great follows and to define the skills that are needed in order to participate in this dance and contribute to its buttery, smooth silkiness.
There is no one set formula that I can give.
I believe that to dance well, independent of the role we take as a lead or follow, we must each discover two key things. The first is how we move: what our own abilities are to make our body move and how we express what we feel through movements. The second is how we listen and respond to music. For follows, this is tied to how well we listen and respond to the leads we dance with. For leads, the equivalent would be how to communicate movement to follows and then how to listen to their response and use it in the dance.
It is also important to embrace our individuality and how we are all different. I love this aspect of social dancing: that we each can express our individuality as part of a partnership. Whether you dance alone to music or with another dance partner, the possibilities and outcomes of a dance can be limitless. When you start to own your own dancing and expression, what you bring to every dance is a unique opportunity for a wonderful connection. The reason I love kizomba so much is that the barrier to experiencing that sweet spot in connection is relatively easy to overcome as a new dancer, as long as you're not afraid of getting close to someone.
So while I can give you things you can work on and suggest ways to improve your skills and listening as a follow, the bottom line is that you need to take responsibility for your own movements, then embrace your individuality and celebrate the partnership while you're dancing withe someone.
For those of you that like check lists, here goes:
- How do I move? Get to know your body and how it moves. What does it mean to stay balanced? Improve and get to know you range of motion: should, hips, chest, arms, legs, etc. What does it take to move with control and balance? Can I isolate my movements? Can I make them sharp, soft, etc.? Can I stop? What's my best pose? These are just a few questions to answer.
- How do I Listen? Partner dancing as a follow involves understanding how to communicate with your lead in the context of the dance. What is my lead telling me withe movements I feel? What am I paying attention to? How do I use physical touch and what I feel when my partner moves to understand what I need to do: when to step and where?
- How do I Translate? How do I take what my lead is telling me and translate that to movement? How can I tell him what I've heard?
- How do I Respond? I've heard what my lead has said and translated the movements, now how can I tell my lead that I've heard what he has to say and finish the movement with my own voice.