I was browsing Facebook (as you do), and I came across Bug’s Question of the Day. The question asked about the balance between when a follow is contributing to a dance versus when a follow hijacks the moment. The conversation went as you would expect (where most answers did not answer the actual question); however, I did find this gem of a quote from Brooks Prumo, a dancer out of Austin.
“Technique is much easier and quicker to learn than improvising/expressing one’s self. Remember you’re sharing that time with another person, which is pretty awesome.”
I think the process of trying to become better dancers, we often become overly focused on technique. We forget the beginner’s joy of dancing with another person (no matter our skill level). And there is so much joy in that endeavor.
Furthermore, I think it is easier to express one’s self when we enjoy sharing a dance with our partner. When you enjoy the dance for itself, the pressure dissipates and the process becomes one of imagination and discovery. I think this is easier with friends, of course – with them, we can be ourselves. With new acquaintances, there is an urge to impress with technique and fancy variations which don’t always fit into the moment.
Ironically, technique often comes easier when we relax into the dance. We spend so much time obsessing over the exact right moment to come in, the exact balance between being a heavy or light follow, and the exact best way to do a Suzy Q that we forget to just dance. The best way to actually have stronger technique is to practice it outside of our social dancing. The worst way to have stronger technique is to obsess over it on the dance floor, which often causes more mistakes than it fixes.
I encourage everyone (including myself) to focus on enjoying the three-ish minutes we share with our dance partners. Improvisation will come more naturally, and our technique will probably improve as a result. Most importantly, dancing will be more fun, and we’ll be better dancers for dancing with our dance partners rather than at them.