Layers of a Lead—How there can be more than 8 leads in one beat of the music:.
In just one beat of the music, there can be 8+ separate leads happening during what most people consider one lead (like the rock on 1 for the Lindy Hop Swing Out). To make things more clear, we will call these "layers of a lead", for example, some layers of a lead might be: Creating a connection in a specific area of the body, deciding the amount of tension in a connection, deciding whether or not you are in counterbalance and how much, deciding the height of the hand, the height of the body, choosing the direction of movement, speed of direction, choosing the rotation, speed of rotation, etc.... These are just some of the possible layers that can be combined to make any single lead in any dance. The number of leads that can happen in a moment is actually probably a lot more than 8 (my guess is between 20 - 70). What other layers can you think of?
(Everything below that is important for the follows is just as important for the leads and vice versa but I will save that discussion for another time.)
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT FOR FOLLOWS?: There are a lot of layers of leads in any movement and it is easy to ignore or not notice a single layer, especially if you never thought about that specific layer. For example, if you never thought about counterbalance and you never learned how to match the specific amount of counterbalance someone is leading, then even if you follow the "move" the lead is doing, it might feel like something is missing. The lead might be asking for 2 pounds of counterbalance and you might be giving him 8 pounds or 0 pounds. You might be going in the direction they want you to go but not in the way they want you to go there. In my experience I have found it to be very common for follows to affect or lead me by requiring more counterbalance than I initiated. Some are doing it on purpose (I like this when it is done clearly and for a reason) and some are doing it without realizing it. I find it also very common for many follows to never go into counterbalance no matter what the lead is leading. Regardless of your level of dance, if you want to improve your follow, I believe you can improve dramatically by figuring out a layer of a lead that you are not consistently paying attention to and working on following that layer in every move you can think of. For the counterbalance example, dance with someone and try to figure out whether or not they are asking you to be in counterbalance and how much counterbalance they are asking for. More examples in the next issue.
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT FOR LEADS?: There are a lot of layers of leads in any movement and it is easy to ignore or not notice a single layer, especially if you never thought about that specific layer. For example, if you never thought about the height of your left hand as a lead, and you never learned how to be clear and concise on what height you want your follows right hand at and how that affects her dancing, then it is likely that your hand will probably be bouncing up and down or in a position that is not as effective to get her to do what you want (because you are kinking your wrist creating poor bone structure to lead with, or any other number of reasons). You might be getting your follow to go in the direction you want but she is probably going to be confused by all the excess movement of your hand, or you might have to spend more energy to get her to go where you want. Plus getting her to do more intricate movements might be more difficult. The more you understand this individual layer, the more likely you will be choosing the most effective height of the hand for any given move. If you want to become a better lead, figure out which layers you don't use as much and work on leading those layers individually.
Here is a link to a very detailed video explanation of the Layers of a Lead concept (13 min, $1.99)
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