Dance moves. The stumbling block for so many dancers. Or so they think. Are a repertoire of lots of fancy modern jive moves really needed to be a good social dancer?
One of the worries that beginner and improver dancers often have, is that they can’t remember or don’t know enough moves. I’m talking leaders here, because as a follower once you’ve worked out how to follow, not to lead, know how to move your feet, and can control a turn or spin, then your only limit is your confidence and dance partner.
For leaders it can be hard to get your head round leading well and knowing enough moves to keep yourDo you need to know lots of modern jive moves dance partner interested. But it doesn’t have to be about flashy moves. That’s one thing that beginners need to get out of their head.
Basic moves are there for a reason. For everyone to be able to do them and base other moves off them. That’s why so many modern jive moves are variations on a theme.
As a leader, when you get stuck for moves, go back to the basic beginner moves. They provide time to think, take a breather, get back on time, chat (if you must), and gauge the level and ability of your dance partner.
Using the basic moves doesn’t mean you’re not a good dancer, if you do them well they can be made more than just a beginner move. That’s why you see advanced dancers taking part in Ceroc X competitions which is limited to a set number of beginner moves.
If you’re a competition dancer or in a show, you want to pull out the big moves. The bigger the better, but for dancers on the social dancefloor, they don’t get the same time to practice over and over again with the same partner. (Unless of course you only dance with 1 person, but that often explains why they can be harder to follow for someone dancing with them who’s new to them)
Most followers don’t want to be thrown around with complicated arm moves, and for leaders it takes time and a lot of adaptation needed to execute complicated moves with followers with different abilities. Some moves should only be done with followers who know the moves and are comfortable dancing them (drops, dips, unleadable moves).
A clue – if you feel you need to tell the follower what move is coming up, a) you’re not leading it right or b) it’s not a leadable move. Oh and you’ll probably annoy the follower who might find it condescending.
A happy medium
Point out a couple of leaders on the dance floor and most competent followers would prefer to dance a nice dance with the one who makes their dance partner look good, dances to the music, adapts to their partner’s ability and the music, and ensures a nice flowing dance. There doesn’t need to be frantic complicated moves that causes a dance to stop and start. If the follower also has the time and space to add in a bit of style and flare that will help for those followers who want to do that.
That compared with a jolty dance, with every trick thrown in, and no time for the follower to catch their breath as they’re whirled around with arms contorted all over the place. And a danger of injury.
Yes, there are some followers who enjoy being twirled around, but that doesn’t mean they want to do that to every piece of music and with every partner.
When I lead, I’m quite out of practice so I’m fairly restricted to the moves I can remember. That means starting with beginner and classic moves, then working through the variations I can remember. I try and include moves that fit certain phrases in the music (try, it’s not always successful) and doing some faster and slow. I don’t do complicated flashy stuff, and I’ve still had plenty of followers say I’m a good leader. That’s not down to moves, it’s down to having a clear lead, knowing where I’m intending to send them, and enjoying the music.
I’ve had some lovely dances with beginners or dancers who aren’t confident about their ability or knowledge of enough moves. They might not be those beautifully connected dances, but they work for that song and they’re enjoyable and relaxing. I like them to go away knowing that I’ve really enjoyed that dance, and hopefully it gives them confidence that they are providing their dance partners with a good dance without them remembering every move they’ve just learnt in class.
Hopefully for those reading who’re starting out their modern jive journey and worry about not knowing many moves, you understand that improving what you do know and gradually building up that knowledge is better than trying to throw everything in without mastering the basics.
And for those who wonder why followers might not return for a repeat dance, maybe occasionally calm down the repertoire and focus on a nice dance rather than a flashy one with all the moves you know thrown in.
Leaders, how do you feel about trying to remember moves, and what’s your focus when leading on the social dancefloor?
Followers, what do you enjoy from leaders?