Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Sharon and Juan - Showing Off the Follower

I absolutely love Sharon in this routine.  Juan's not so shabby either.

They're wonderful here for a number of reasons:  A fun and playful song with matching musicality, a spot-on performance, smiles that light up the room, but there's something more going on.

I believe, and I could be wrong because I can't find a quote confirming this, that Frankie Manning used to teach that the Leader's responsibility was to focus on the Follower - 
making her feel comfortable and showing her off. In doing this it allows her to shine and makes the dance, as a whole, better.  (You'll have to forgive me.  I'm digging back into the recesses of my late 1990's memory on this one so even if I'm wrong about Frankie just go with me here.  Oh, and please correct me if I am and I'll edit the post.)

The clear focus in this performance is Sharon.  She moves with certainty adding flourishes to each swingout and extra personality to every hit.  This works because Juan has purposefully taken on a supportive role.  He creates the foundation and she thrives upon it.  He builds the canvas and she paints.  He cooks the meatloaf and she brings the cake for dessert.

This is a team effort and works to great effect.

I believe that there's something very similar happening in Skye and Frida's performances over the last few years.  The video below from 2010 is a good example of when this really dawned on me.  I'm sure I have enough material for a future blog topic, but a quick look at the history of Skye's performances pre-Frida, and then his performances with her afterward seem to show a trend of Skye moving from being the focus of attention to becoming an extremely solid foundation and allowing Frida's personality to shine.

Please note that this is all based on my own observations and I haven't had any conversations with any of these amazingly talented individuals to back this up.  I can't say for sure if this is a conscious effort on their part while determining choreography or their own dancing styles, or if this is simply something that grows out of maturing as a dancer.

Whatever the cause, I can say that especially while social dancing this philosophy works.

Leaders, take care of your Followers.  Make them shine.  Work on your pulse, your connection, your core movement.  Create a solid and clear foundation for your Follower, and then leave her room in your patterns and movements to express herself and play.  If you do all of these things and also treat them with respect socially you will never lack for a good dance.

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