One further thought on following: chests …


I’ve written a number of times about the problems with sequence-based lessons.

The bottom-line of most beginner and improver group lessons is that both leaders and followers alike are taught steps. Each knows what they are supposed to do, so there’s no real need to lead a figure (only to do enough to identify it to the follower), and no real need to follow (because the follower knows what’s coming) …

Teachers of course do their best to stress technique, but it’s only really at intermediate level that they start to communicate that it’s not about the steps, and that there are almost infinite variations even if you think you know what’s coming, and then we get a gradual move into true leading and following.

But it strikes me that, at this stage, followers are constantly given a mantra that would be just as valuable to leaders: follow the chest. When the chest moves away from you, do whatever is required to close the gap.

When followers really get that (together with the associated body awareness of what will and won’t work in terms of how to move from A to B), suddenly they can follow things without having the faintest idea of the leader’s intentions. Almost overnight, their tango transforms at a speed and scale that is unimaginable as a leader.

Yet if I think about the feedback I’ve had on pivot technique as a leader, you could think of it in the same way. Just as the follower’s job is to go with my chest, part of the leader’s job is to facilitate that by not letting my chest get too far ahead of my follower. And, indeed, in something like a back ocho, there comes a point in the movement when it is my chest following theirs.

So you could say it is my job as much as the follower’s to keep our chests aligned. Whether that’s by keeping my chest just far enough of the follower that I’m not asking the impossible when they try to close the gap, or by following their chest as they pivot.

Presenting this at an early stage as a dual goal for both roles would, I think, really help.

Image: Shutterstock 

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