Saturday, February 3, 2007

Switch Lead

About two years ago, Zirpu and I decided that when we finished Bronze 4 we would go back and start over, switching the lead and follow. Several months ago we started just that, with me leading and him following. It's not as hard as I thought it was going to be. I thought the confusion of switching from stepping back with my right foot to forward with my left foot was going to last a long time. It wasn't easy to start, but once I got the hang of it that part didn't stay difficult. Basic steps and basic turns aren't as challenging as I expected them to be.

What are difficult are the moves that require stepping to the left or right, such as crossovers. In fact, crossovers are a great example (we are doing one in this photo). This is a step during which both partners step out to the side and open up, then step back and close, and then step to the other side and open up. It's in these steps that I have to turn my brain around, because we are turning the other direction than the one we're turning in when I'm following. Sometimes Zirpu and I switch back to "normal" lead and follow in these steps, back to what we're used to, what feels natural.

We always laugh when that happens.

Sometimes I find it frustrating to be struggling with steps that we already know, even though I know that it's an unfair expectation of myself: Sure, I know this or that step, but I know it as a follow. Leading is a whole different thing. I liked those bumper stickers that said "Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, but backwards and in high heels" but the fact is she didn't. Not to discredit Ginger; following isn't much like leading either.

Switching lead and follow is giving us a lot of opportunities to practice communicating! Dance is about body language, so we have to communicate with our bodies in ways we're not used to. When something goes wrong several times, we have to actually talk about what we're trying to make known, or what we're communicating when we don't mean to be body-talking at all, and we have to do it civilly.

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