The most valuable skill of a good follow is sensitivity to a lead. In other words, beyond everything else, you should strive to be the best follow you can be. Any woman can chide a man who isn’t dancing the right way, but it takes a real gem to follow even the worst lead.
Posture is Key. A great posture will allow you to move easily in any direction without much of a push. As a close second, good frame is an invaluable tool in following. Always keep your elbows in front of your body. Four out of five doctors agree that good frame is key.
One of the first things that we learn as dancers is with which foot to start. Dancing is very much like walking: Right, Left, Right, Left… That is the pattern in almost 100% of social dancing. You will almost never place weight on the same foot twice in a row. This principle takes most of the guesswork out of following. That being said, commit to every step. You have fully stepped when you can lift up the other foot without falling.
Close your eyes. We as humans rely too heavily on sight, even when we know our eyes can be very deceptive. Next time you are dancing, try it (within reason). You may be surprised by the results.
Close your ears. As a follow, you want to follow the leader. It’s the gentleman’s job to follow the music. If he’s off time, it’s so much better to just go with it. A dance couple is two people dancing as one unit, so when you follow the leader (even if it’s not on-time), you not only make yourself look better (people can tell who is following well), you also make the gentleman look better. It’s a win-win situation.
Disengage your brain. In other words don’t anticipate. Be available to be led. Perfect example: Let’s say that you are led into a pattern you have learned and you know. Or so you think. In the middle of the pattern, the gentleman switches up and ends the pattern differently than you learned. Because your mind has been set to run through your pattern, you realize pretty quickly that you are no longer following your partner. *Note: Disengage brain does NOT mean to disengage frame, posture, or technique.
*Good Posture is key
*Good Frame is a must
*Always be committed to your step
*Close your eyes
*Close your ears
*Disengage your brain
**Helpful exercise often used to demonstrate a great leading a following principle: Partners grab hands at waist level and shift all their weight so the starting foot is free, and the ladies close their eyes. With everyone keeping their respective frames in place, the gentleman shifts his body forward, backward, or sideways, allowing his left leg to move one of those three directions. The lady, feeling the shift in weight, allows her right foot to catch her from falling (AKA: stepping) forward, backward, or sideways. You really get a feel for how to follow the gentleman by his shift of weight.