I have been dancing Brazilian Zouk as a leader lately. I just started little by little, goofing around with my girlfriends, and one day somehow I just took off dancing. Not the best of the leaders, but yes, leading through an entire song. In Zouk, it is common to see dancers trading places. I have to say I love it. I LOOOOVE …IT! Lots of new sensations that I feel I have to share here.
For you ladies that have never led a woman before, some news: Fishnet pantyhoses are a little bit uncomfortable. Guys are most often wearing long pants. But if you are a girl or woman wearing a mini skirt, while leading a lady who is wearing fishnet pantyhose, you might end up with a rash in your thighs. You use your thighs a lot in leading. Also, the long hair getting in the way, you really have to close a head movement sequence in a very clear way for the long-haired person to push the hair back in place. Hair, more than ornament, is a real marker in Brazilian Zouk. If the hair is right, the movement is probably right.
And to experience all types of dancers from the opposite side is…awesome. The light lady that swirls smoothly, and has a good arm positioning. Lovely. The soft lady that is like butter in your hands while manipulating her chest box, or waves; or the funky lady that responds to your funky feet. And my favorite: The very creative, independent lady that does not respond as you expect, and give you a challenge – How to lead more clearly. Trading places give you the possibility to learn more, have twice as much fun and interesting dances at the same party!!!
Getting a happy follower
So what is the key to a good dance? Well, as far as I have experienced, with my tiny repertoire of moves, the most rewarding thing is having a smiling lady. It is priceless!. The last congress I attended, the Barcelona Dance Congress, was special for me because I got to lead through half of it. Luciano Gomes (teacher) approached me during one workshop and said…” Ahh let me see the girl, is she smiling? yes, she is – well done!”. It stuck in my head and it is going to be my goal from now on. Play with the dynamics of the music, funk it up, and get the girl to smile. Combinations will come little by little, but the more complicated they are, the less probable the girls will be smiling, since I have to learn them gradually to make them work on the floor. That is I don’t even try them. Yet.
Prejudice ( my own?)
My experience so far is that women are very helpful, and when leading women embrace happily that help. Maybe because we women are most accustomed to putting ourselves in men’s position, be sympathetic towards them – these are thoughts that perhaps don’t belong here-. But sometimes, when I try to help men, it is hard for them to get what I mean. A leading lady understands right away when I help her. We are making the dance work together in harmony, while from men is more “why don’t you move as I wanted? move woman, move!”. My theory is that because we women have already done half the work following when leading we have a lot of experience and instincts from it. Men that never try following, have not this to help, and leading and managing the dance can all the opposite to relaxed.
So I openly advocate for men to TRY FOLLOWING, you learn a lot new, from a new perspective, and it will help you to become a better dancer. A dancer that all followers like.
Yours truly: Lili from Stockholm