Friday, October 7, 2011

"Do they suck or do I suck?"

So I'm a big fan of the fb page Bugs Question of the Day.  Recently, there was a question sent in by an anonymous dancer that goes like this: 
"There are several dancers I have danced with repeatedly with whom dancing just doesn't work (the basics of what I understand to be leading and following are not working out for us). They are dancers who appear to be very good (and think quite a bit of their own ability) and some other dancers certainly appear to be making it work with them. I am just moving out of complete beginner stage and seem to be able to make everything work at a basic level with the majority of people (including in privates with A-list instructors). Which of the following apply?
a) Everyone has people with whom it doesn't click
b) These dancers aren't as good as they think they are but no-one has ever told them (barring their extreme confidence and the willingness of other good dancers to dance with them, I would assume that they were missing something fundamental)
c) There are other approaches to leading and following
d) I need to suck it up and learn to dance"
My original response to this question...
Realizing that there were dancers with whom sometimes shit did not work, and that they were some of the better dancers in my scene, and then seeking out individual instruction (private lessons) to try and fix that problem (which was absolutely my problem and not the problem of those I was dancing with), was one of the best things I've ever done for my dancing.
This came from a place of thinking about my own dancing, especially when I was first at the point when I realized that what I was doing did not work with everyone.  That realization is actually what prompted that first private lesson that I talked about in my previous post.  There were better dancers in my scene, better by general consensus, and when I would have dances with them, sometimes I'd miss things.  Not in the, "oh, I realize I missed that and if you do it again, I'm pretty sure I know what you mean this time," kind of way, but in the "wow, I have no idea what I was supposed to do there," kind of way.  And these same better dancers were not always my favorite to dance with, because sometimes I didn't feel like they gave me "enough."  Like, how am I supposed to tuck turn if you do not physically push on my arm hard enough to make me go around?? Yeah. I was unsubtle, to put it mildly.  I'm *somewhat* better now. 

Anyway, I was talking about this question with a friend of mine who is staying at my place for Rocktober, [I get to dance to Glenn Crytzer tonight, YES!], and I was like, do you think this is a lead or a follow asking this question? 

Because when I had initially read the question, I'd thought it was a follow.  Partially, I guess, because I myself am primarily a follow, and also because in some ways it's easier for a follow "just coming out of the beginner stage" to think they're better than they are, since a really good leader can work with any level of follow and "make it work," as the OP said.  But then I was reading it again with my friend, who is a lead, and he is like, "Oh, that's totally a lead, 'making it work'?" 

Because say you have a dancer, who is "just moving out of complete beginner stage" as this person said they were.  Let's say they're primarily a leader.  Follows who are total beginners, or who are just moving out of the complete beginner stage, who are this person's peers, may be doing more stepping through patterns, on average, than really following.  So stuff "works" with them.  And really good follows, like "in privates with A list instructors" can dance with anybody, right? and if the OP/leader is dancing with them on the social floor, they're probably following 'kindly.' aka, it's a social dance, I can tell what you're trying to do, so I'm gonna help you out a bit.

But the follows in his regional scene, who may be among the better/best follows there, may not be really "A list" follows, right? Because we can't all be, and there are not that many of them. So say some of them are not total beginners.  And they're really trying to work on their dancing, really trying to develop connection and truly follow, because that's kinda the place where they're at.  And so maybe they are a bit literal in their dancing sometimes.

Maybe *that's* who he's having trouble dancing with.  And maybe he feels like they're the ones being assholes by trying to prove a point/make him look bad when they don't do what he's asking on the dance floor, but maybe they're just trying to follow as honestly as they can and aren't hearing him. 

Now, admittedly, I am struggling with not snarking on this too hard, because I think the OP comes off as kind of an ass.  ("not as good as they think they are but no one has ever told them", as if the OP thinks s/he should be the one to tell them.)  But I don't think that the answer is "you suck" or "they suck," and I also doubt the answer is as simple and lovey/friendly as "you just have different styles!" Maybe if the OP had said they'd been dancing 10 years.  But I'm guessing, if they're just coming out of the beginner stage, that the answer is more likely to be that this OP is missing something.  

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