After a decade of dancing as a female leader and teaching countless classes, I can easily say that learning to lead is good for your following. Here is a list of five good reasons for it.
Reason 1: By leading, you get to understand the other half of the couple movements. So, even as a follower, you can add to or remove from the whole, as needed. You have better chances of becoming a co-creator of the dance.
Reason 2: You discover a whole new level of depth of music. When you listen to it as a leader, with the intention of interpreting it in an improvised social dance, you get to understand it differently. With time, you will end up memorizing a lot of the popular tango tunes. You will start noticing the different flavours of different orchestras and you will notice how they entice you to dance differently to each one of them. As a consequence, even as a follower, you will end up interpreting the music much more fully, subconsciously.
Reason 3: You become more tolerant and understanding of the complex position of a leader, especially in the first years of learning it. You might be even able to help with navigation on a crowded, unpredictable dancefloor. All it takes is following with your eyes open, for a change, and using slight hints with your left hand on the leader’s back.
Reason 4: You understand what kind of “rational” movements might distract the leader, so you stop executing them as a follower. What movements do I call rational? The ones that get initiated in our heads. For example, some followers decide they want to insert certain decorations into their dancing, so they do it in a forced way and stop the flow of the couple. Decorations can be very beautiful, especially for the observers of the couple, but they can greatly disturb the leader if they come in an unpredictable, untimely fashion.
Reason 5: Your body awareness deepens and the amount of possible moves increases. After leading for long enough, you will have to develop the circularity of your movements, in order to lead all the turns and spins and even make the linear movements more dynamically aligned and natural. It will all make you a more accomplished and versatile follower.
There you have it. The reasons off the top of my head why leading turned me into a better follower. Surely you can think of more reasons. Let me know in the comments!
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I'm Hannah A. Tomšič from Ljubljana, Slovenia. I'm in love with both leading and following in tango. It is wonderful to explore tango indefinitely and to help others learn. Please, join my quest. Ask a question, tell me your story, make me see another perspective. We are all here to learn from each other.