I don’t see the advantage of using the terms lead & follow here, and I do see disadvantages. There are dance styles that have true leading and following (most ballroom, swing, etc.), and some new-to-contra people already know those true-leading/following dance styles, and will know that the leader is the man (or perhaps the left/lark/jet) and the follower is the woman (perhaps right/raven/ruby). This is not only at odds with the idea that either role can initiate a flourish (and the other can accept or decline it), but can also easily lead to an idea that throughout the entire dance there’s one leader and one follower per couple. (Not that that belief is limited to newbies, but at least where I dance it’s decreasing, and I don’t want to be encouraging it.)
Yes, teach initiating flourishes, from either side, and yes teach accepting and declining, from either side. Don’t call it leading and following—those words already mean something else. Read Weaver Jamaica Plain, MA http://lcfd.org > On Mar 11, 2018, at 12:39 PM, Maia McCormick via Callers > <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote: > > Hi Jeanette, > > Exciting workshop! I'm glad to see this discussed! > > So if I'm understanding you correctly, you seem to be contrasting the idea of > a "leader" with the fact that moves must be "executed with mutual consent", > which I find interesting. For me, those ideas are not at all at odds. I see > the "leader" as the person who initiates, or offers, the embellishment, and > the "follower" as then deciding to execute it or not. To put it another way: > in my opinion, all embellishments are composed of an offer (the "lead") and > either an acceptance or declination. In this framework, designating one > person the "leader" is not at odds with consensual twirling--the "follower" > has agency every step of the way!--and it can be helpful to establish "right > of way" in twirling.* > > I teach a workshop on dance floor communication, and I am happy to talk more > if you like! But my initial suggestion for a workshop activity/focus is: > break down non-verbal communication of flourishes. What does an offer > look/feel like? An acceptance? A declination? Have people practice physically > declining flourishes: when the lead lifts an arm to offer a twirl, the follow > gently tugs down, rather than following that upward twirly momentum. (Note > that the twirlee can also do the offering -- e.g. I am a lady doing a chain, > and I get to the gent and lift my arm up over my head to indicate that I want > to twirl. But the gent still gets to accept or decline! Maybe they have a bad > shoulder and can't lift their arm up that far, etc. So that's an idea to put > in people's heads as well.) > > Many follows aren't aware that they're allowed to decline flourishes, and > many leads have no idea what a declination feels like! So this is a GREAT > thing to practice. Emphasize to folks that they can decline a twirl for any > reason; and that if someone declines your twirl, not to take it personally. > (Cuz boyyy I have seen some men get huffy when I don't want to twirl for > them.) And then PRACTICE so people get really aware of what signals to > physically "listen" for. (In my workshop I had the crowd do a dance** with > lots of flourish opportunities for both roles, and encouraged participants to > play with whether they offered flourishes or not, whether they accepted or > declined, and to really listen for their partner's signals.) > > Hope some of that was helpful! Like I said, I have lots of ideas on this > topic and am happy to talk further. Thanks for teaching this, and best of > luck -- let us know how it goes! > > Cheers, > Maia > > * As John mentioned, twirls etc. can be initiated by either role, and I've > certainly danced those dances where both roles are twirling all over the > place! They're delightful, but I also find them super confusing because I > never know if I should be in "initiate" or "respond" mode -- I appreciate > designating one person the "leader", i.e. the person who initiates flourishes > (and then switching around the "leader" if need be). > > ** Apogee <http://chrispagecontra.awardspace.us/dances/#apogee> by Chris > Page, though in retrospect I might have picked something easier... maybe PB&J > <http://chrispagecontra.awardspace.us/dances/#apogee> by Bill Olson? If you > don't have a crowd that's up for a gent's chain, though, most any dance with > a lot of flourish opportunities (chains, balance and swing's, lines down the > hall, etc.) will do.
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