When my dance students are learning the skill of following, I often suggest they close their eyes. Closing your eyes takes away a lot of the urge to back lead, and it brings forward the senses you use to feel the lead.
Even when social dancing, I often close my eyes because it’s relaxing and feels good. Leaders, however, are in the driver’s seat, so they need to keep their eyes open.
That’s why I was blown away by this video of a West Coast Swing performance with a blind-folded leader. OK, this is a rehearsed routine, but it’s STILL pretty impressive even though I doubt they used the blind fold before they had mastered the choreography.
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Even though the lead is in charge, there is a certain degree of sensing what’s happening with your partner, especially with a jazz dance like West Coast Swing or Lindy. Practicing with your eyes closed is a good exercise for leaders, too. Just make sure you have plenty of room, and unless you have a LOT of room, not a good idea for you both to be blind-folded at the same time.
Dancer Rebecca Niziol talks about performing blind when she lost a contact right before a performance. Although she never would have done so on purpose, she was surprised to find out how tuned in she was and what came out of her when forced to rely on her other senses. For the full article, see Dancing Blind Taught me to Be Present.
You may find yourself surprised at what you get in touch with when you can’t use your eyes. Try it just for fun, and if you discover something interesting, let me know!
by LaurieAnn Lepoff
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