I’m pretty sure no one ever came home one day to say, “Wow! I had a great day! I was carjacked!” And I doubt anyone ever said, “That flight was fantastic! We were hijacked!” You know why? Because hijacking is bad.
Hijacking is stealing by stopping and coercing someone. If this doesn’t sound very nice, it’s because it isn’t. Whether it’s hijacking a car at gunpoint, hijacking a plane with the threat of explosives, or hijacking a lead during a dance. Doesn’t matter. Not nice.
In terms of dancing, “hijacking” is when the follower either ignores a lead or else completely changes it from its original intention. It isn’t nice. It’s telling the leader, “Sorry, I don’t care what you want to talk about, because we’re going to talk about this.” If someone were to say, “Hi, how was your day?” it would be rude to ignore the question and say, “I’m going to eat some chocolate.”
A question was posed recently to a dear friend of mine, Maria Blackwell, a fantastic dancer and teacher who gives more of herself to her dance community in St. Louis than anyone else I’ve ever seen. Her student asked if a follower went to play, wasn’t she taking over the lead? Maria smartly answered that there are rude and polite ways of interjecting – and sometimes it’s a fine line which is which.
I could write a whole treatise here on partner dynamics, but suffice it to say that the way to avoid hijacking is to acknowledge the lead and follow it through, even if you give it your own spin. Taking the lead and playing with it is expressive following. Ignoring the lead and doing what you want – even if the music “calls for it” – is hijacking. And that’s just rude.