FOLLOW AND LEAD
In salsa, the boy always leads and the girl has to follow. In recent times, there have been dance videos where boy and boy partnering as well as girl and girl partnering. It's done as a variation that gives a newness or surprise to the dance routine. Basically, in Latin dance form, one partner leads and the other follows - that’s the conventional rule.
Likewise, in relationships, to keep a balance of head and heart the roles are generally in unequal ratio. Sometimes one partner is a bit more possessive and the other is more practical. One partner could be more into managing home or office finances and the other partner can be more towards organising. One partner could be a little shy and the other partner more into socialising. The lead-and-follow rule applies naturally and it requires a great deal of maturity and understanding to keep a healthy balance. It depends on the life situation as well.
Any partnership is successful when there is willingness to cooperate and understand your partner. If one partner leads then the other partner should also agree to follow the lead. And that could only happen when there is open and easy communication between partners. Leading requires being a good listener and giving ample time to considering the difficulties. Following requires trust and faith in your partner.
When two partners dance there should be appropriate space for/between each other. Space to dance, space to put your feet, space enough to do some solo styling whenever you feel like. Proper spacing shows professionalism of both the leader and the follower. You might have seen lots of Latin dance forms where the partners are absolutely close to each other. But even if they are too close, their performance or choreography always starts with either walking towards each other, making eye contact. There is always a start or initiation towards each other before dancing together.
Likewise, every relationship starts with some kind of initiation or attraction towards the opposite gender. The more the partners come close to each other, the more there is understanding of each others nature and habits. Some habits could be annoying and some could be really endearing. And to tolerate each others habits, it’s important to give each other proper space to be themselves.
It is ironical but it's also true that closeness and giving space both are important. Trying to change your partner never works and always makes your partner frustrated because no one wants to change.
Keeping your frame or posture and footwork in-sync with the music and choreography is very important in salsa dancing. Sometimes it feels like a lot to think about while trying to enjoy dance but everything is possible if one keeps practicing. Movement synchronization comes when both the partners practice together and try to understand each others’ strengths and weakness and come to an understanding. Like in dancing, it’s the music that guides and holds the performers together so in relationships it is love that keeps the partners close to each other.
There will obviously be changes in music variations and ups and downs in life but being reactive never helps anyone. Trying to understand things from partners perspective, keeping in mind their current situation helps one keep calm and think practically. Making every move smooth is only possible when while following the lead the partners shows trust in each other. When one foot moves to the right, the others’ foot should also move in the right direction. When ones arm is given to turn in a certain direction, it is the trust and confidence in oneself that makes it happen.
PARTNER LIFTS AND TRUST
Not everyone is able to execute amazing dance lifts without missing a beat and injuring oneself - only professional dancers can - because they have practiced so well that they have build trust in themselves. My teacher always told me that doing partner work is trusting your partner as well as yourself. One cannot succeed without the other. There is a lot of preparation that goes into a dance partner lift and that preparation requires dedication from both partners. Lots of practice with or without the help of your teacher will give good results. Partner lifts is all about timing. Both partners have to understand and decide on a time to do the lift. The work is not just done by the person who is going to lift and is stronger. The partner who is to be lifted also should be able to keep his or her body light so it becomes easier for your partner to lift you up.
It does sounds complicated and that is why dance partnering can only be understood by practical application.
In relationship also when one partner is feeling low or depressed, the other partner should know how to bring smile to your partners face. Knowing your partner's likes or dislikes is one thing but also if your partner is upset from you then it requires a lot of patience to let go of ones ego and show faith in your partner. Sometimes ego or jealousy or possessiveness seem like the most difficult thing to handle, just like an impossible looking dance lift. The solution lies in working together to understand the details of problem, sharing each others burden and encouraging each other by showing appreciation for the positive things in your relationship. “When in doubt, never forget why you started” - it’s true for dancing as well as love.
The 3 word Mantra - Listen, Feel, Dance - goes a long way in understanding dance as well as life. Be a good listener to your partner. Feel things strongly to create a unbreakable bond. Dance together in-sync and grow together in a relationship no matter how easy or difficult the life goes.