“You dance completely different with Robert.”
At least, that’s what Holly told me towards the end of the Emory Swing Dance tonight. I asked her what she meant, and she explained something like this: I matched Robert. I matched his energy and really followed, and maybe because of the higher energy, I was really on beat and really, truly dancing with him.*
The difference is that I don’t carry that fun, high energy into every dance. Oh sure, sometimes I do — but usually not. I don’t always match my lead, and I often fall behind him. Often, with the upper-level dancers in Atlanta, I tone down my dancing and become more of a ‘pure’ follow. I do what I’m told, minimize my variations, and tone down my own energy so that I can really listen to my lead. And then, I’m not sure what it is, but I just become…slow. There’s no other word for it. I’m late.
I think there are two huge factors: (1) energy, (2) attitude, and (3) confidence. Here, I want to talk about my energy and my attitude (my confidence is a whole different subject).
When I dance with Robert, I come to the dance with a certain energy which is prepared to be awesome — prepared to match him, to be on, and to follow every little syncopation he leads. That energy that I bring helps me be ON when I dance with him — to really push my dancing to the next level.
And then, I have a really care-free attitude with Robert. If I miss something? Who cares. Just turn it into a variation. Make it happen. But with others, I sometimes focus so much on FOLLOWING that I forget to…follow? At least, I’m late, or over-thinking things, or concentrating so hard that I miss something that would have been so easy if I’d just relax.
So I think my goals are two-fold: (1) to really push my energy. Part of this has to do with maintaining a good connection, I think, but that’s a whole different topic of discussion, and part of that is just purely pushing my energy to match the song and my partner. And (2) to always bring a playful, ready attitude — to not let FOLLOWING get in the way, but to just follow and have fun and compliment my lead with my own dancing. It will help me be on beat, and it will really, honestly just help me be a better dancer.
*Now, part of this is probably due to the fact that I’ve danced with Robert as long as I’ve been dancing. I could go on for ages about my dancing with Robert, but it’s pretty simple in the long run: he’s one of the most influential dancers in my own dancing, ever since the very beginning, and that really helps me match his dancing.