This dance question may sound obvious, but it’s not just “If you can’t dance and want to, you need lessons”. That’s true, of course, but what if you don’t know you can’t dance? What if you think you can dance but your partners disagree? What if they are too polite to tell you?
Here are some classic lines I hear from people who need lessons and don’t know it: “When I’m dancing with a really good lead, I never have any problems following.” When you follow really well, but only with the best dancers, it’s easy to make the mistake of thinking the problem is with the leaders, not with you. What these followers don’t realize is that the mark of a great leader is the ability to assess the skill level of his partner and dance at a level that doesn’t make her feel stupid. In other words, he’s dumbing down the dance for you. The worst follower in the world feels like a pro with a great lead.
“Nobody ELSE has a problem with my lead!” in response to a gentle suggestion. Or “Women seem to like dancing with me. I haven’t heard any complaints.” It’s important not to confuse politeness with pleasure. Just because she’s not willing to be rude doesn’t mean she enjoyed the dance. If you really want to know if women enjoy dancing with you, notice how often they approach you after you tell them you’d enjoy dancing with them again later on. If you’re still in doubt, ask an advanced follower for honest feedback. This takes guts because it’s hard on the ego to admit you could use some help when you’ve been entertaining the notion that you’re great on the dance floor.
Many years ago I met a young man who had fabulous style. He was good looking and always looked great dancing. All the girls lined up to dance with him. I asked him to dance and was amazed to learn that he led so badly that I was afraid of being injured. I had to stop before the dance was over and told him “I’m sorry. My shoulder can’t take this rough a lead.” “Am I that bad?” he asked. “’Fraid so,” I told him. He could easily have blown me off because, in fact, nobody else HAD ever complained before and women DID like dancing with him. But he respected me, took it as a wake up call, and began studying in earnest. He became one of the best dancers in the community and later confided in me that he blushed with embarrassment whenever he thought of what he used to put his partners through on the dance floor.
Great style and good looks will bring you plenty of partners, but the ugliest guy in the room will have more partners lined up to dance with him if he’s a great lead. Likewise, if you’re a cute girl, all the guys will want to dance with you, but it really has nothing to do with dance. They want to do ANYthing with you! If you really want to find joy in dancing, learn the skill of following. It’s worth it in the end to take an honest assessment of your skills, and take dance lessons if you need them!
By LaurieAnn Lepoff
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