The Key Traits of a Great Dance Couple

I’m sure that you’ve always thought about how you’ll find that partner with whom you’ll conquer the world of dancesport. It goes beyond being an incredible dancer. 

It’s about the right mindset, the perfect balance between mind and body, the passion, and the hard work. There’s a lot of improvisation in ballroom dancing. Also, there is no set routine other than what you learn with your teacher. In this way, you get the basic steps that you can further develop on stage.

On the dancefloor, you’re having an active relationship with your partner. It’s not easy because how you feel within and with each other will have a big impact on your dance. That is why some people have a hard time finding the partner they feel comfortable with. 

As a dance couple, you form a union on the dancefloor and you communicate as the dance unfolds. If you have a bad relationship, it won’t work. You can’t fake it. This means that you need to be at peace with yourself so you can give 100% to your partner.

There are two roles involved: The Leader and The Follower. The dance will shine when both partners give their best selves in every moment. If you want to know what makes a great dance couple you must first learn about the key traits of each role.

The Leader

Start by thinking about what a leader means in general. He must inspire, give energy and make everything as amazing as possible for the ones that follow him. The same is true for ballroom dancing. 

The most important thing to have is a clear vision of the direction in which you want the dance to evolve. In this way, you can guide your partner with confidence. Moreover, you need the ability to convey your intentions to your follower in a manner that gives them space and doesn’t put too much pressure.

Let’s say that you are about to lead your partner into an underarm turn. If you focus, trust your partner to follow, and signal the follower’s turn with a left-hand arch in a way that keeps the balance between the two of you, the move will succeed. 

Ballroom dancing is about having fun and you must keep that in mind. I know that as a leader you tend to let your ego drive you, but that is a lousy thing to do. You control the timing and the speed and you can easily get hurt if you take it personally. This is how you lose focus and cause the dance to fall apart. 

On the opposite, if you have an increased awareness, even if you’re follower misreads the signal, you trust them to improvise, adapt and help you both achieve greatness. Listen to your core and connect with yourself. This will definitely make you a great leader.

The leader’s responsibilities are:

  • A clear vision (this means choreography, starting point, ending of the dance, anticipation);
  • Clear communication with his follower and also with the audience;
  • Awareness of the environment;
  • To adapt and improvise accordingly;
  • Listen and take into account the follower’s feedback.

The Follower

As a follower, the most important thing is to be a very good listener. Always pay attention to your partner, interpret the signals, and let yourself be lead. Followers tend to be remembered more often because they are the ones who stand out the most throughout the performance. This should not be a reason for a battle of egos, though. If you find yourself wanting to take the lead, remember that the communication between each other will suffer.

Dancesport is a real balancing act. You must assume your role and let go. It’s tough because you must know the basics so well, that you can move along without knowing where the leader will take you. If you are self-aware, things will come easy. You will be in perfect sync with your dance partner. Also, you must react in a split-second because everything is happening in a fast-paced environment and you can’t afford to miss a step.

The follower’s responsibilities are:

  • Listen through your body;
  • Interpret the leader’s signals in a way that keeps the dance flow;
  • Trust your leader and don’t try to backlead;
  • React so fast so the audience won’t even notice that you are improvising;
  • Be there to fill the spaces in choreography.

The Great Dance Couple

Now, let me tell you that ballroom dancing, like any other style of dancing, is a partnership between two people. You come together and give everything to make the dance good for each other. You transfer energy in-between and let your bodies do the talking.

The leader will always be in charge of the choreography and must make the follower feel protected. You, as a follower, have to let go and trust your partner to make you look amazing on the dancefloor. As I’ve told you already, communication is at the core of a great dance couple. If both of you invest in having a wonderful relationship, the dance will come naturally. Don’t settle for a random partner for yourself. Instead, go out there and find the one that takes out the best of you.

If you want read about some priceless advice on a successful partnership from one of the most renown teachers, make sure you check our article by Colin James.


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Dancing has been my passion since I was 13 and since then I've been doing things in that direction. Writing, creating and putting together the biggest community for dancers around the world!

Tags: couple follower leader partnership relation

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