Who’s Leading Anyway?

The Notion of Leading and Following

Invitation Only LeadAssisted LeadLouder for the Hard of Hearing

Never trust spiritual leader who cannot dance. ~Mr. Miyagi, The Next Karate Kid, 1994

Three Types of Leaders

Most certainly not the only 3!
Invitation Only Lead
I will invite you to my party. I will not coax, cajole, push, manipulate, assume, assist, insist, or help. I print expensive gold embossed invitations and I know since you recognize the quality of the invitation, you will come to my party.

Assisted Lead
I want you to come to my party so bad that I will sent he limo if necessary and have you picked up – of course this means that you have to wait for my limo to get home as well and of course since everyone wants to ride in the limo, who knows when you will get home. But hey if it is a cool enough party, who cares.

Louder for the Hard of Hearing
You are hard of hearing (and you can’t read – other wise you would have read my golden invitation and heard the limo) so I will hire a caller to go to your home with a megaphone and announce that the party is starting and arouse you – and your neighbors – into a state of coming to my party.

Seriously… which party do you want to attend? I suppose it depends on your ability, your experience and your penchant for gold embossed invitations :) however………

What if you removed the idea of leading and following? What effect would it have on your dancing? I did and suddenly I realized that all of the really good tandas I get, I can never quite tell if I led or if we read one another’s minds.

Leaders and Followers Is It Over Rated?

Leaders and Followers Is It Over Rated?

Removing the notion of a leader or follower instantly relieves worry by removing the responsibilities of leading or following. Our real job here is to dance. Not control one another or dance one another, but move together to this beautiful music. There is too much emphasis placed on these roles especially in North American tango. The vast majority of the Argentines I have studied with say “We do not use the terms ‘leaders or followers’ these words are not in our vocabulary.” It is no accident that they think of it as simply a man and a woman. The major difference in tango between the man and woman in tango is thier shoes.

The steps are all the same there is nothing a man will do a woman will not do and viceversa. The best dances you ever have are dances where you do not know who is leading and who is following. Why not start there?

Think runner and a chaser. When the couple is walking straight down the line of dance, the backward walker is being chased by the forward walker. In a literal sense there is a runner and a chaser and then there are times we are neck in neck, or hand in hand – think promenade walking.

There is an old saying: don’t put the cart before the horse. When describing the dancing in this workbook I will at times call one a runner and one a chaser there are times when we are changing roles almost every step. I will at times denote the orientation of the frame as masculine and feminine.

Whose is leading any way?

Whose is leading any way?

I may even use the words leader and follower at times so as not to completely rearrange the language you are familiar with But I no longer believe in it. The truth is at my level of dancing I can’t tell who is leading and who is following. It feels more like I am navigating by affecting the degree of pivot as opposed to actually “leading a pattern” or heading to a supposed destination or specific culmination of steps.

Try reciprocity as a notion of moving. You move and I will move and we will both move together. Notice when you begin to move – it matters not whether it is man or woman, lead or follow, establish a dance frame and begin to move. As your potential energy turns kinetic you can make your consecutive movements harmonize with the reaction you provoke in your partner. Now continue acting and reacting and let go of the notion of lead and follow and see what happens. Careful, it can be addictive!

You need not worry about how the dance will go, I can set you and anyone else in a construct to get you moving and in a few moments using some tools and psychology, you too will forget who is leading or following. Learn to created this environment on purpose, and you can then replicate that atmosphere in your dancing.

It is simple really there is either a resolved harmony about our movement or there is a degree of static, learn to follow the harmony. I no longer feel I am leading when I dance. And the truly great dancers I get to dance with do not feel like they are following either. If this is true, why not aspire to that now in your own dancing? Why wait to become advanced.

Is the cat following the slope?

Is the cat following the slope?


If I could start you on an advanced path right now – and I could you know I can – I would say begin by dispelling the thoughts of lead and follow and start observing who is chasing whom by the state of who is in front of the movement and who is behind. From there I can get you to dancing with your heart and soul.

One woman put it to me this way: “Sure that’s what advanced dancers do, but I am not advanced!”
To which I replied: “When will you choose to become as advanced dancer?”

If you insist on being a terminally intermediate dancer, expect perpetual intermediate dances! Dance and allow for the unexpected, “improvisation welcomes surprise”!

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