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And our previous episode is here.
We’re back with Welcome To The Ballroom, and we’re kicking off a new arc within the show to match. At the end of episode 4, a newcomer literally ran into Tatara in her haste to warn Shizuku. In this episode, we find out what she actually meant.
With Kiyoharu injured and not dancing, this leaves Shizuku without a practice partner. Enter the Akagi siblings: Gaku, the elder brother, and Mako, the little sister. Gaku declares that with Kiyoharu “dead”, he will become Shizuku’s new partner, leaving his sister/professional partner behind. (Hint: this is not a very nice thing to do to your partner. Do not do it!)
Tatara is encouraged to dance with Mako while Shizuku and Gaku practice. Tatara doesn’t have much experience dancing with anyone, but especially people who aren’t Shizuku—and it immediately shows. It’s vital for any good leader to dance with a lot of followers (and vice versa), exactly so they can get used to dancing in general, rather than dancing only with a specific kind of dancer. Mako is the more skilled and more experienced dancer between them, but she is the follower, and appears shy, no less.
After Shizuku declares that she is upset with both Kiyoharu and Sengoku, for not trusting her enough to withdraw from the competition when Kiyoharu had been injured, she accepts Gaku as her competitive partner. There is nothing wrong with changing professional partners, of course, but Sengoku likens dancing couples to married couples—it is not a commitment to take lightly.
The focus remains on Mako, however, who has been left behind by her dance partner. Sengoku suggests that she and Tatara dance together for the time being. She gladly accepts, but first Tatara must prove that he can become the leader she needs.
Leading and following require a fair amount of trust, not just skill or talent. You should be able to dance with anyone who can dance, but to dance competitively requires a certain kind of syncing. (Tatara compares this to being psychic, which would certainly help things. But we’ve found it’s not necessary to be psychic to be a good leader.)
It is, however, important for dancers to be able to read their partners. Tatara and Mako learn to dance with each other when Sengoku challenges him to lead her on a preset path. Tatara reads where Mako wants to go, what steps she’ll take, what directions she wants to head in—and he leads her there.
With vows of determination and a new goal in mind—to build each other up, help each other improve, and find value in each other as partners—Tatara and Mako officially become dance partners.
Continue with the next episode here!