Backleading

Question by User BruceJillis

As I am dancing more and more kizomba I am noticing more and more that a lot of ladies are not following but are also learning the figures during classes. This makes it difficult to really learn to lead a figure.

So my question is how can you work around this? I know about throwing in variations to throw the ladies off. Are there any other tips and tricks?

Answers

User LastDanz 

Best tips I know in that case:
1. Gently, ask them not to learn the steps, just to follow your indications.

2. Ask the teacher to remind the followers that they have not learn the steps, just to follow you indications.

User dr_kiz 

It is also a topic to be covered for the teacher(s), not only the students. It’s a good thing to separate the class into leaders and followers. For the leaders – learn the figure, the steps. For the followers – master your ginga movement.

The result – the followers don’t know the figure + they’re working on their technical side of the dance and you can lead them, if they listen, because they don’t know the figure.

In order to teach the follower to follow you must shut their brain out of it. If they start to think which step I need to take next – that’s not following, it’s solo dancing while in couple.

User LastDanz 

In my opinion and experience, leaders learn to lead easily if they sometimes are followers.
And followers learn quickly just to follow if they have to lead from time to time.

It’s empathy.

User Ocatarina 

I know I’m late to this conversation but I’ve had teachers who made the followers wear sleeping masks so they don’t know what’s coming. 😊 But usually you can only do this starting on more advanced beginner levels. True beginners are so nervous that it’s normal for them to not really follow at first. I think that’s okay in the beginning, they need some time until they start feeling what following really is.

User ingloriabasta 

I think key to this problem is communication, clarity and 50-50 in leading and following.

In my experience, the more a leader actively leads, the less space he/she gives to the follower, the more the follower is inclined to either passively follow (and let the leader work even more) or, during class, to backlead. Why? It’s just that much easier to autopilot!

So what I’d like to see in classes more is minimal and intentional leading. If this is taught in the right way, it counteracts the problem of backleading. Especially as, in more advanced classes, you can focus on giving the followers moments when they take over the lead and both can bounce off of each other. The result is a balanced dance, when the passivity is gone, the inclination of backleading minimizes.

Edit: This is not to say that there’s a culprit. I’ve been to beginner classes that focus on steps instead of technique and then you see all the followers backleading. Active following is the other side of the same coin.

What is Active Following ??

Yeah, so often times, followers have a lot of tension in their bodies so they can be moved around by the leaders swiftly, especially in urban. The consequence (imh) is an unbalanced dance (it’s “moving” for the leader, and “be moved” for the follower). Active following means dancing without this basic tension but with taking over an active part in the dancing- keeping shoulders parallel to the leader, keeping the same space between each other etc., this is what the follower needs to actively do. E.g., when the leader moves back, it’s the task of the follower to move to the front in order to keep the connection, it’s not the task of the leader to pull. So yeah, that’s basically it, both share a 50 50 responsibility in keeping the connection. This is super important to be able to start playing with the leading-following dynamic as an element of the dance. Dependent on what style you dance, you accomplish this with small variations (kizomba: followers looks for contact also in the legs, you don’t usually do this in urban).

See Video 1

Teachers who convey this principle well are Laurent, Baris & Katya and Leslie, I don’t know who else because these are the ones I had lessons from so far who were really good at it.

Video 1

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