How to Start the Dance with a New Partner

I recently got this question after one of my regular classes. At least it was something along these lines: 

"How do I start the dance"

I have to say it's an excellent question. And as so many questions, the answer is "it depends". But hey, don't stop reading yet! That's not the end of the story!

If we dance with someone we already know, theoretically we can go full speed directly. But it is normally much nicer to start a bit slow first

And if it is someone we don't know? How do we start? Glad you asked...

This is how I usually go about it. And this is valid for the kiz/kizomba scene. If you dance salsa, bachata or any other dance, you can apply this type of progression to them too, but using techniques from those dances. 

First of all, I try to find a good position—a good hug. I try to make it as comfortable as possible, and I search for a position in hands, chest, embrace, head and so on that is comfortable for us both. 

After that I start shifting the weight, taking small steps and testing how easy the lead and follow is. I take some steps forward and back to feel if she is walking on a line or not, and I feel if she is keeping her feet under her own body. This sets the level for the rest of the dance. If she doesn't walk on a line and tap with feet together, everything will be more difficult, and with less connection. 

I also try to make some moves where we make a shuffle step with the feet, like vírgula or retrocesso, so I know what I can expect when I do those kizomba moves. If she does them well, I can relax and trust that she will do them later too. 

Once I know how she stands and walks I test some moves where we go from closed to open position and then back to closed, to figure out how well she is responding to my lead in her back. 

If all goes well until then, the rest depends a bit on what music is playing. If it is kizomba I might not need to test anything more, just dance and focus on the connection and musicality. If it is a different type of music I try to adapt my dancing to it and might try to do some other techniques. For fusion one technique I would try is a syncopation (double tempo steps) for example. If she doesn't respond at all I will know I cannot use syncopations in this dance. If she responds a little I might have to adjust my leading a bit to signal the syncopations a bit earlier, and maybe with a bit more tension in my body. But I will avoid using too much tension. I don't want it to become a "rough" or "violent" dance. If she responds really well I know I can use syncopations without any adjustments. Then I will keep trying to use new techniques to see how far we can go together. So maybe I will try to do a pivot, and once again, the same idea applies. If it works, great. If it almost works, I will try it again.

And this goes on throughout all my dances and all techniques/moves. If I do a move and it doesn't work, I will usually try it one more time, and I will try to focus on my OWN technique. I want to give her a chance to do it right when I am at my best, not fail because I did the technique in a sloppy way. If it doesn't work the second time, when I am really focused, then I will not do it again. I don't want to stand on the floor and force a technique for 10 times. It is not a class. We are social dancing and we are there to enjoy

So, I gradually build the dance up from fundamental techniques to more advanced techniques. And I try to finish on a level which is just on the edge of what she can do, or maybe pushing the follow a little bit. I want it to be a challenge, and maybe create the feeling that "I didn't know I could do that".

I don't want it to be too easy, but also not frustratingly hard. This is the zone where we can enter "flow" and really enjoy the dance. 

So, there you go—some tips on how you can start the dance. 

I hope you enjoyed it, and feel free to share! =)

Take care!

That's it! Have a nice day! 

Take care!

Suggestion - Check the kizomba, fusion, musicality and follow technique courses here


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