Sunday, April 5, 2009


During a private lesson the other day, I quipped "Lindy Hop is the dance of Freedom!" It was funny if you were there. It's also true.

When dancers are just beginning Lindy Hop, it's easiest to think that the Lead is the boss and that the Follow is the subject. Stated another way, the leader has control over the follow. While this may be true in a rudimentary way, it seems to me to lack a certain dynamic.

Here's a thought that occurred to me the other day, mostly unedited:

"I've always rejected the notion of control in dance, especially with leading and following. It is often suggested that the Lead is in charge of the dance. While there are good reasons to suggest this (to beginners for instance - ed) I prefer to consider that the partners are cooperating, collaborating, synthesizing."

Why don't I like the word 'control'? It has too many nasty connotations. Also, there are better words in almost every case. If someone uses the word controlled with regard to their own movement, there are words like precise, balanced, dextrous and a host of others.

I often have used the phrase "leads, you're driving the bus." While it is a bit more romantic to suggest a carriage, the reason I go with the bus image is that there's something very physical in that image for me. I imagine a bus driver really using their body in a way that a carriage driver wouldn't. Maybe it's a tour bus driver, since they're also in charge of showing their passengers a good time.

This is also a really over-simplified view. I think later it becomes more like a bicycle for two, where one person is responsible for steering and both need to be engaged or fall.

I think both of these metaphors fall short of the potential of the dance. After you get past the driving metaphors, then it might be time to consider the dance as a conversation. That, however, is a much longer discussion which will be taken up elsewhere.

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