Ultimate Tips for Followers

Don’t backlead
Don’t do it. Ever. Seriously, not even in classes. The best way to help new leaders
is to let them lead. At least give them the chance. If you just do the move yourself your partner will
never learn how to lead it properly and you’ll never learn how to follow it properly.

Keep your shoulders back
Many followers hunch their shoulders especially those who are tall or
haven’t been dancing that long. Think about it next time you dance. You may not even realize that
you’re doing it. Keeping your shoulders back will make a massive difference! You’ll be able to
dance faster, change direction more easily, and you’ll look soooo much better. It can take a little
time to change especially if for those who slouch when they aren’t dancing but it’s really worth it.

Relax your arms
This will give you better connection, and make you much easier to turn. How
can you create tension with your partner AND relax your arms? Your frame should come from
the muscles in your upper back, shoulders, and the back of your upper arms—the rest of your arm
muscles are free to chill out.

Don’t let styling get in the way of following
So you just learned how to do swivels awesome! But
you can’t just throw them in anywhere you want. Good styling shouldn’t interrupt the flow of the
dance. You still need to be able to move in time to the music—if you can’t do your styling and still
keep up to speed better to leave it out. You still need to keep your balance (ex: big kicks that make
you stumble are no good—try a smaller kick that comes from your waist and lets your upper body
stay still). You still need to be ready to move where you are lead—if your swivels turn you so far out
that your lead struggles to pull you back in that’s too far. You still need to be able to adapt to your
partner—if he doesn’t give you the space to do the kind of styling you want to do, do something
else.

Tighten your core muscles
The muscles in your abs should be engaged all of the time when you
dance. This is what connects your whole body and makes it possible for you leader to know what
foot your weight is on even if you’re only connected by one hand. If you just got up the courage
to ask an awesome lead for a dance and want to make a good impression or if you feel like you’re
having a bad night and want to get out of your slump the best thing to do is tighten those core
muscles. It will instantly make you dance better.

Wear sticky shoes to improve footwork
Wearing slippery shoes makes you much more likely to
cheat your footwork and makes it harder for you to keep your balance. If you spend a lot of time
sliding around or feeling like you’re falling try wearing stickier shoes (something with a soft rubber
sole) at least some of the time. It will help you kick those bad footwork habits by making you take
every step and you’ll find that you expend way less energy just trying to stay upright. Warning: once
you go sticky you may not want to go back…

When in doubt triple step
This is more of an advanced tip. Even if you can do the basic footwork
patterns in your sleep, when you dance with leads who like to mix things up—8 beat, 6 beat and
beyond—sometimes it’s hard to know what footwork is required at any given moment. Whenever
you’re unsure just do a triple step because it puts your weight back on the same foot. (Hey, I don’t
know why it works, its magic or something but I got this tip from Peter Strom and totally use it all the
time).

by Tina Bunck

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