If you are like most girls and women, you will be shocked when you read this… “To be a better dancer, learn to lead!”
But, here’s a simple test that may help to convince you. Think back to the girls you knew at school. Select those girls who were in demand at every dance—the girls who had plenty of “cut-ins”, who were never wallflowers. Now, think it over… weren’t they the ones who could lead the other girls as partners?
I first hit upon this theory many years ago. The idea of teaching girls to lead was completely contrary to the accepted beliefs of the day. However, I was sure of the logic and common sense in back of my theory and I decided to try it out.
I visited classes that were held in girls’ clubs, schools, and colleges. I asked the members of each group to vote for the best dancers among their girl friends. Without a single exception, every good dancer who was selected was a girl who could lead!
Frankly, it has taken a great deal of courage to uphold my strong convictions. Most women cling tenaciously to the belief that “Leading will ruin a girl’s dancing.” It usually takes me a long time to convince mothers that their daughters can become popular dancing partners more quickly by first learning to lead other girls.
The Arthur Murray female teachers are noted for their ability to follow any partner. The first step in their training is to learn to lead all partners in all dances. In our studios we now teach all girl pupils to lead before teaching them to follow.
Two Reasons Why Learning To Lead Will Make A Girl A Better Dancer
- Have you ever skated hand-in-hand? If so, you know that it is only fun when you and your partner strike out and glide and the same moment. If one of you is slower and misses the rhythm, two-some skating becomes boring and uncomfortable
Dancing with a partner works no the same principle. A girl must dance with her partner—not after him. She must express herself in time with the music… not wait woodenly and lifelessly, dependent on a strong push-and-pull lead. A girl who can lead understands the music and she can step out rhythmically, at the exact same time as her partner. Any man will enjoy her dancing because it feels alert—alive—vital.
- Once a girl can lead, she begins to realize and appreciate the man’s part. She discovers what she is expected to do when she is following a partner. A lady who can lead the man’s part in any step, will be able to follow that step twice as lightly and twice as well. To dance with true poise and assurance, you’ll need the confidence that knowledge brings. Learn to lead each step first… then you’ll follow it like a breeze.
Exceptions to Girls’ Leading
In all fairness to the old-fashioned prejudice against girls leading, there are certain exceptions to the rule. But, it is only in these two cases that leading will be a drawback to a girl’s dancing.
- A lady should not lead other girls more than half the time. The two girls should take equal turns. Sometimes tall girls are leading too often merely because of their height. They should single out other tall girls with whom to practice.
On the other hand, short girls should not forego the benefits of leading simply because their friends tower above them. It is a bit harder to lead someone much taller than yourself… but it is not really difficult; it will seem easy with practice. A short man dislikes dancing with a tall girl—not because it is difficult—but because he is afraid that the difference in size will make him look comic. A short girl has nothing to fear on this score… she should feel confident of being able to lead any female partner.
- Note that the following exception to the rule of girls leading applies only to poor dancers.
A girl will gain nothing from leading if she leads the same few steps all the time. Her muscles will become accustomed to only these few movements and habit will force her into the same steps no matter how strongly her partner leads. She will be in a rut and she will feel stiff and heavy to a male partner.
- To gain the full value from leading, a lady must practice leading as many steps as she hopes to follow.