Great points and advice! Written by, and originally published at Joy in Motion
1. FOLLOWERS HAVE TO MASTER MORE VOCABULARY THAN LEADERS DO.
Because leaders are responsible for deciding which vocabulary to use and when, they have to think ahead and be decisive. But it is precisely this decision-making responsibility that gives them the freedom to only lead a select set of vocabulary that they feel comfortable with. Followers, on the other hand, have to be prepared to follow a wide variety of vocabulary, a sum of the vocabulary of all of the leaders they dance with, including vocabulary they may be completely unfamiliar with.
2. FOLLOWERS HAVE MORE MOVEMENT, BALANCE, AND TIMING DEMANDS.
Due to the structure of most dances, followers tend to move more and execute more pivots, turns, and spins. This, coupled with the fact that they are fulfilling someone else’s vocabulary ideas rather than generating their own, means that their balance and timing are put to much greater tests. Leaders who try or learn following tend to be amazed at how much more physically demanding this role is. The spirit if not the literal meaning of an old saying applies here: Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, but backwards and in high heels.
3. FOLLOWERS MUST DEVELOP MORE SKILLS OF INHIBITION AND INTERPRETATION.
Followers must artfully balance two seemingly opposing skills: the ability to actively move themselves through space to the music and the ability to inhibit many of their own movement and musical preferences, tendencies, and desires. We often translate this for followers as “Don’t think”, but leaders who take up following quickly learn that this requires highly active listening and very concrete skills. Followers must seamlessly interpret and execute another person’s ideas in time and space as if they were their own.