Saturday, October 1, 2016

Some thoughts on "Back Leading"

"Backleading" is a term leaders frequently use when the follower did something he did not expect, and as a result the connection broke. But that term implies that the broken connection is the follower's fault. I really want to try to stop thinking in terms of fault.

 A broken connection can happen for many reasons, including a communications glitch, a balance problem on the part of either person, or differences in style. Blaming all these things on the follower is counterproductive. Let us look at them individually.

 Communication between partners is a two-way street. All too often when there is a problem, the follower is told she didn't "listen" to the leader, or didn't "wait for his command". News flash - tango is not a master-slave relationship, or a teacher-student relationship. It is the job of the leader to listen to the follower, every bit as much as it is the follower's job to listen to the leader. True, the leader starts the conversation. But after that, it is a dialog, with the leader making suggestions and the follower adding her ideas.

 Lack of balance is one of the most common reasons for a broken connection. This can cause either person to take an unexpected step. In a good partnership, each person is not only responsible for their own balance, but also for avoiding causing their partner to go off balance. Only practice can solve this connection problem.

 Style differences are a frequent cause of broken connections. This is why we dance tandas - it gives us an opportunity to resolve those differences, and work toward a mutual accommodation. Compromise is the key. A leader who merely accuses the follower of back leading, and who puts no effort in reaching a compromise, is not a partner. He is a boss. True, sometimes the styles are so different that dancing together will never be enjoyable. In that case both people should "agree to disagree" and find other people to dance with.

 When you step onto the floor at a milonga, you have agreed to dance together. Maintaining the connection is the responsibility of both people. Sometimes that means the follower becomes the leader and the leader becomes the follower - either intentionally or unintentionally. Stay connected. Dance with your partner. Forget blame. This dance is about "us", not about "you" or "me".

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