The General Rules of Leading and Following in Ballroom Dancing

The General Rules of Leading and Following in Ballroom Dancing

Ballroom dancing is based on certain basic concepts of leading and following. Without these, both dancers might feel lost on the dance floor and end up looking clumsy. Before getting into ‘how to lead and follow,' let’s look at some important ballroom dancing basics.

•    Maintain a good upper body posture. You need to keep your shoulders relaxed and your spine upright.
•    Remember to dance on the balls of your feet. You will have to constantly shift your weight from one foot to the other while dancing.
•    Ensure that your right arm is firm and does move in isolation or independently of your body.

How to lead in ballroom dancing

The man is typically the leader in a ballroom dance and takes the woman through the various movements in a routine. The woman doesn’t know what is coming next and simply follows her partner’s lead.

When leading, the man needs to always start off with the ‘left foot.' He steps directly either forward, backward or sideways, never in-between. It is vital to maintain a strong frame when leading. A good frame means a good connection with your partner. This allows her to sense your movement easily and quickly. Here are some checkpoints that will help you maintain a good frame.

•    The partner’s shoulder blade needs to be cupped with the right hand
•    Keep your right elbow lifted
•    Keep your shoulders relaxed
•    Keep your core engaged (or tuck in your belly)

A big misconception associated with leading is this; you lead with your hands and arms. This is false. All movements need to be initiated from the torso or core. The arms only work as extensions of your torso and help you connect with your partner.

How to follow in ballroom dancing

The follower’s role in ballroom dancing is anything but passive. As a follower, you need to receive signals for the next move from your partner. A follower will usually not move till a signal is received from the partner for the next move. 

Move naturally when stepping forward without breaking your movement at the hips. You need to keep your timings extremely sharp when following. For this, you need to focus on using the left hand’s palm (placed on the leader’s shoulder). This contact will act as your guide, and you will be able to move quickly and easily whichever direction he leads you.