Life Lessons from Dance – Conversations

As I have been assisting in dance instruction as of late I have heard a few comments about leaders that make me reflect on the role between leader and follower and how they work together, how they communicate, how they rely on one another and cannot dance without the engagement and involvement of one other. A leader, no matter how great, cannot lead if they do not have a follower (SQUIRREL – This reminds me of a great TedTalk by Derek Sivers entitled How to start a movement about the power and importance of the first follower). I get frustrated when a man speaks as though the dance follower position is subservient to the lead’s will and does not respect the partnership that is needed or does not recognize the difficult it takes to follow.

It is probably out of all of these thoughts that as I walked to work today I came to the realization that dance is a conversation. The leader offers an idea or asks a question with a move or intention and the follower responds or reciprocates accordingly. There are some people you have easier conversations with than others and some conversations are beautiful to behold and need to be on display in a performance.

An accomplished follower is a good listener. They can suspend what they think could or should occur and allow themselves to be taken on a journey. They cannot do this passively however; a follower must be engaged and responsive. If a leader provides leverage or compression a follower needs to match the intensity in order for the movement to take shape, One depends on the other. A leader also has to know when to take a backseat and to allow space for the follower to add their own flavor, improvise, or interpret the intention in a different perhaps even better way. It is in this give and take / back and forth conversation that the universal language of dance exists…

Remember: Everyone has the potential to lead (and follow)…

If you liked this post please comment and visit others in the series: Dance Leadership Posts

*The featured photo was taken backstage at the Las Vegas Salsa Festival prior to performing a salsa routine with the Good Times Dance Company based out of Alhambra, California

3 comments on “Life Lessons from Dance – Conversations

  1. This is great! The idea of dance as a somatic practice to illuminate conditioned tendencies helped me understand that I actually didn’t know how to follow. In a coordinated dance, my body (my being) felt awkward if I wasn’t leading. This exposed more for me about Trust, Safety and Connection. Keep up this exploration and reflection! It’s a fantastic leadership tool and so accessible.

    ~ Submitted by Charlene Elizabeth via Facebook post on 1.5.2017

  2. This was a great post. It made me realize that in life and dance we are always communicating.

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