Following through

I worked with a student recently who had difficulty following. She, like many followers, often “missed” leads but recognized the disconnect between the lead and her movement. She just couldn’t figure out what was going wrong and how to fix it.

The problem is this: she was not following through. In other words, the leader initiated her into a given movement, but she didn’t finish it, and by not finishing it to its end, she did not establish the proper connection to get a clear lead into the next movement.

Followers, something to keep in mind: everything you do should end in compression or extension. If you don’t feel either of these, you haven’t finished the movement you started. You need to continue moving in the same direction until you feel either compression or extension. Once you have compression or extension, you’ll be able to more easily feel what the next lead is. And remember: your job is to finish the movement that the leader started; it is not to worry about the next pattern.


  1. And to the person who has not yet fully realized what "compression or extension" means? What would you say?Looking for good "kindergarten" definitions for compression and extension. In our locale, the word "resistance" has been overly used. And it ends up being the Webster's definition of "to prevent from happening." LOL

  2. Maria: If someone has not yet gotten a sense of what compression and extension are, it's time to either a) take more lessons or b) find a new teacher ;)Joking aside, I would tell the follower to continue moving in the same direction as the initial lead until she cannot go further – when she gets the "stop" signal from the leader. I often teach students about frame and extension by getting them to what I call "stopping distance" – where, frame connected to the core, they cannot be further apart. Other teachers call this "backing the connection" (which is nice but rather abstract).There's a reason why I teach my students extension in the very first lesson (and continue to work on it up through all levels) and why I teach them compression by the third beginner class (and again, continue to work on it). They aren't easy to achieve well, but necessary to do any dance successfully, both as leaders and followers.I personally avoid the word "resistance" like a curse word. "Resistance" has all sorts of meanings for people that signal things like fighting or applying brute force. I've seen students who learned about extension using the word "resistance" and they put it all in their arms and don't move when led. As Kyle and Sarah once said, "You don't want to resist your partner. You want to dance with them." I feel that "extension" is a better word, given colloquial meanings, but demonstrating it can be difficult. (Another blog topic entirely!)

  3. I, too, avoid the word "resistance" for the same reasons. I also avoid "end of slot" for the same reasons. Just not as clear conceptually. I like the picture I get in my head regarding stopping distance. Gonna try that with a few students who are struggling with the concepts of compression/extension. Thanks, Mr. Eric!!!

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