EYES WIDE SHUT – (or just following blindly)

It has been suggested that Follower’s – shut your eyes in a close embrace – and this has prompted me to offer my thoughts as a dancer, not just as a teacher

There is a difference having your eyes open and being distracted from what’s going on around, and open but in a more meditative state.

Eyes shut for some ladies, is the only way they can affectively tune in with their partner and the music.  But the sixth sense or sensory skill does not get so developed.

Eyes open in a meditative state does require concentration at a level of both unconscious and conscious awareness, being in tune with your own mind and body senses, your partner’s, the music, the dance, plus your surroundings. Each playing a distinct and separate role but combined heightens your senses and reactions.  Responding to any move is a split second decision the Follower makes when her senses are tuned and alert.   For those who have studied meditation, could find it easier to adapt this skill for dancing.

Having a level of respect for your Leader to competently lead you safely around the floor is paramount, but, there are natural blind spots, and no matter how much care is taken, Leaders cannot predict for other dancer’s irresponsibility, thoughtlessness and sadly sometimes stupidity.  That includes some people sitting and walking around the edge of the dance floor without paying attention to the dancers, often have been kicked by a lady not being aware just how close she is, therefore unable to adapt her dance.

As a Follower we have a responsibility, particularly if the floor is busy – it isn’t a free-ride – we need to work in harmony with our partner, to also give him the best possible dance we can.   Harmonising with your partner is not being in control of him and taking over the lead, as it has been suggested by keeping your eyes open.

A gentle pressure from the lady’s lead left hand is enough to indicate to her partner to avoid an unseen potential hazard.  It doesn’t detract from your connection, but a jolt, bump or kick does.

Also as Followers, we need to adapt our dance to our Leaders, especially when there is a height difference.  Some of the best Leaders I have danced with are 5’6” and under! I can be head and shoulders above them.  As a consequence they have more blind-spots, so a need for eyes open.  For taller Leaders where my eye level is below their shoulder, they may have a better peripheral vision but they still have blind spots.

There’s no hard and fast rule, but as always , its useful to have options available to you.

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© Jennifer Hudson – Tango Nomads, 2017

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