Ultimate Tips for Followers

This is a collection of tips I’ve gotten over the years that made a HUGE difference in my dancing.
These are good tips for followers at any level.

Keep your weight over your feet
This is the single most important tip in the list—full stop. As a
follower you want to be ready to move in any direction at any time without falling over. There are
many subtle ways that you can throw yourself off balance. Having good balance will make it much
easier for you to follow anything your lead throws at you, dance faster, and add styling. Here are
some tips for better balance:

Don’t take steps that are too big
How big is too big? Walk across the room at a fast pace. Notice
the size of your natural steps—your dance steps should never be any bigger than this. Seriously,
try walking across the room taking really big steps and notice how much this slows you down. No
matter how fast you want to move or how tall and long legged you leader is you should never take
steps bigger than your natural steps—it will only make you slower, harder to move, and less stable.
(Hint: watch out for this especially on the 4 of a swing out or other move where you’re travelling)

Bend your knees and keep your shoulders in line with your toes
Leaning too far forward or back throws your whole body out of line. The strongest position balance-wise is to keep your shoulders
over your feet with your knees slightly bent and your weight on the balls of your feet. This is the
ready position for almost any athletic activity because from this position you can move quickly in any
direction. If you want more tension with your partner or if you prefer a low-down style bend your
knees and sink down with your bum but still keep your shoulders over your feet (as if you were going
to try to jump up in the air as high as you can)—this is the right way to create tension and keep your
balance.

Don’t anticipate
Another golden rule for followers. This problem crops up in many different forms
for both beginners and improvers. When you anticipate you break your connection with your
partner and severely limit what he’s able to lead. Here are some tips for avoiding anticipation:

Don’t guess what he’s going to lead
This can be intentional or just force of habit. Lindy hop is an
improvisational dance. No matter how many moves you know there are still hundreds of variations
or other moves that start the same way. Keeping up with your leader isn’t about guessing what he’ll
lead it’s about being ready to move in any direction at any time and being quick to react.

Don’t turn yourself
Followers like to spin! Sometimes a little too much… A leader bringing his
arm up is not a cue for you to spin around. Always make sure you wait for your leader turn you.
There are any number of exciting things that he could lead but if you just spin you will never know.
Even if he was leading you to turn, if you beat him to the punch by turning yourself you are likely to
throw yourself off balance or to turn too early. (Obviously this rule doesn’t count if you are doing an
intentional highjack).

Don’t step forward too early
Whether you are worrying about getting there quickly or are just used
to being pulled in on 1 this is a terrible habit which can effect followers at all levels. Practice hanging
back and thinking to yourself that you will just take your steps on the spot until you actually feel
your leader pull you in. This becomes REALLY important at higher speeds when stepping forward
too early kills the elasticity that you need to dance effortlessly to fast music.

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