So, you want to become a better lead on the dance floor. That’s an excellent goal and well… we’re happy you’re here, because this article is going to help you with a number of key basics that you can put into action right away, ensuring that you start leading your partner more effectively and having as much fun as possible while you do it!
Before diving into these tips, know that communication is at the core of leading a partner in a dance and, because dancing is a physical activity, you step away from using your voices to communicate mid-routine and let your bodies do the talking. Being conscious of this is essential in partner dancing, particularly when it comes to the one taking the lead. Bearing this in mind, entertain each of the pointers below with an understanding that high levels of discernment, attentiveness, and awareness of both your and your partner’s “body languages” is always a foremost ingredient.
Get ready to put these 11 quick tips to use as you make your way to becoming a dance leader who has not only improved, but is a more confident and comfortable partner to dance with, too!
Quick Tip 1 | Mindset
Leave shyness at the door! Instead, be ready to take the reins and bring with you an air of confidence. This does not equate to being aggressive or pushy; it simply means that you should be ready to take initiative by having the presence of mind to lead your follow and set a good pace.
Quick Tip 2 | Confidence
Whether you’re dancing Salsa, Waltz, Bachata, or any other style, be confident in your ability to lead, because the degree to which you’re confident will be conveyed through your performance. Your confidence will also leave your partner feeling more confident in your abilities, as well as in their ability to follow!
Quick Tip 3 | Decisiveness
Make it easier for your partner to follow your lead by being clear and decisive with your movements. Practicing ahead of time, putting your initiative at the forefront, and being able to anticipate their next moves through observation can help.
Quick Tip 4 | Gestures
Stay fully aware of your partner’s physical gestures (that’s everything from subtle and overt gestures, moves that you anticipate they’ll make, and even facial expressions). You’ll need to be highly attuned to and know how to communicate through your own body language, as well!
Quick Tip 5 | Rapport
There’s the unspoken language of the body and then there’s the more obvious one: Talking! Yes, having conversations with your partner will translate to a better lead-follow dynamic. If you’re newly paired, then establish some rapport. If you’re a seasoned pair, then dial in regularly and have chats about your choreography (or anything at all) to gain clarity and, if nothing else, strengthen your bond.
Quick Tip 6 | Follow
There’s no better way to understand the position of a follow than to switch roles and be the follow yourself (actually, a great way to do this is by taking private lessons or a class where you can rotate partners). In doing so, you fill your partner’s shoes and gain first-hand experiential insights; this can result in your becoming a lead who is both better informed and more empathetic.
Quick Tip 7 | Mindfulness
Among other things, being a good leader means staying mindful of everything around you and, more importantly, of others on the dance floor (like in nightclubs or group lesson settings). It goes without saying that remaining aware of your surroundings will help you avoid accidents, but you’ll also appear more in control.
Quick Tip 8 | Practice
As with anything else, practice makes perfect, so do just that: Practice! The more you dance, the more command you’ll have over yourself as a dancer and the better you’ll become at leading others.
Quick Tip 9 | Focus
You can’t lead effectively if you don’t know what your partner is doing or can’t anticipate how they feel or what they will do next, because your attention is elsewhere. No matter who is watching or who else is on the floor, the dance you’re having is between you and your follower, so that’s where your focus should be.
Quick Tip 10 | Groove
When you know your music, you move better! There’s an undeniable harmony that unfolds between your body and the beat, and, just as you’d find yourself lost in the groove while dancing alone, do the same while dancing with your follow. Under your lead, together, you become one with the music.
Quick Tip 11 | Patience
Be patient with your partner and, at all times, help them feel comfortable. Not everyone is a born dancer and depending on your partner’s experience (perhaps a beginner or somewhere in the middle), you may need to do more than extend your hand to lead and offer your hand to help, too. Partner dancing is a team effort, so their success is your success!
As you can see, improving the way you lead your partner on the dance floor doesn’t have to be difficult. The simple tips above really just boil down to putting more attention on communication, your mentality, comfort, and awareness. Of course there are other ways to become a better leader, some of which are more advanced (like improving your dance technique or perhaps taking ballroom lessons with a good dance instructor, for instance), but your experience level and the extent of your goals will weigh heavily on the road you take.
So, do these tips leave you feeling more confident about becoming a better lead to your partner on the dance floor? Do you have any advice for others seeking simple ways to step up their lead game? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below!