By: Geo Staranchuk, President
Learning to dance is a juggling act. It involves managing body frame, foot positions, weight transfer, eight lines of dance, and, of course, learning to lead and follow.
Arguably, the leader faces the toughest challenge. He (or she), must understand the technique and mechanics of leading a partner, as well as master the sequence. The leader also has to execute the proper start, use the appropriate lines of dance, and finish the pattern. All while keeping clear of other dancers. On the other hand, the follower has to respond to the lead.
One of the best strategies to meet the challenges of learning how to lead is to switch partners often. Many couples choose not to switch partners in class, and by doing so, they undermine their learning.
If in the class there is not an equal number of leaders and followers (the club tries hard to prevent this, but it can happen on occasion), switching partners gives everyone a chance to dance. It is the considerate thing to do.
More importantly even than being nice to your fellow club members, switching partners will help you develop fundamental dancing skills. By dancing with only one partner, you are drastically limiting your progress. Instead, by dancing with different partners, you will more easily spot your own mistakes, learn how to correct them, and improve on the things you are doing correctly.
If you dance with the same person all the time, you will get to know their movements and will adapt to them, instead of learning how to lead and follow. Further, if you are reluctant to switch in the secure environment of class, you will probably only feel comfortable dancing with your partner at the practices between classes as well as the practice dances.
It is then strongly recommended to repeat a class level until you become completely confident in leading and following the steps, before you advance to the next level.