Katja Završnik is one of the most sought after followers on the dance scene. This is her advice on how to become a great follow:
- Get to know your body, know how it works and be in charge of your movement. Be a dancer first, then you can be a good follower. Be the active half of the couple and not just the follower. This is the only way the dance can feel good.
- Be patient in classes. Leaders are usually learning amillion things at the same time; footwork, shapes, leading. Instead of focusing on what doesn’t work and what you can’t do, start thinking about what you can do and what works. And go from there. Give positive feedback in classes and also suggest things that might work better, not by blaming the leader but by trying to find a way to work together. Remember, you are not learning moves in classes, you are learning how to get a better follower.
- What helped me to become a better follower, or at least to understand this role better, was teaching with different partners. To be able to explain following, I actually had to start thinking about what I’m doing to make it work with everyone. I prefer more connection. But that doesn’t mean I won’t be able to connect with someone that prefers less connection. It is about being able to adapt to a leader. And the hardest part is being able to adapt to different leaders without losing yourself, your own style. This is something you learn by dancing a lot! Social dancing is the key to all the happiness. If you want to work on being more aware of your following, use the first few dances of the evening as your studying cases and really think about what you are doing, what works and what doesn’t. And then go crazy!
- Enjoy the learning experience! Sometimes we are too eager to get better and we forget to enjoy ourselves along the way. Yes, improvement is important, but frustrationdoesn’t help.
- Last but not least: be honest. If there is something that makes you uncomfortable, say it. If you don’t feel like dancing with someone, don’t. No one owes anyone an explanation, it is a personal choice, just like who you are going to have a beer with at the bar. Being in the same room with someone does not automatically give you the right to dance with them. Also, people often do things they aren’t aware of. Tell them; explain why those things are not the best. This is the only way we can help each other be better human beings.
photo: Piqant photography