How to lead in dancing

Lead and Follow in Ballroom Dancing | Part 1: How to Lead like Fred Astaire — Duet Dance Studio Chicago

It's amazing to see how two complete strangers can move and dance together as one. And that's the beauty of partner dancing! You don't need to know your dance partner previously in order to dance together. All you need to do is effectively perform your role either as a leader or follower. In this and the upcoming blog post, I'm going to offer tips on how to lead and follow like pros on the dance floor.

1. Maintain a Strong Frame.  The dance frame is the most important thing in lead and follow as it helps you maintain the connection between you and your partner. Your frame should be firm and steady all time. "Noodle arms" or a weak frame will hinder the connection to your partner. Think about the cup phones you played with when you were a kid. Your frame is similar to the string that connects the cups.  To communicate effectively through the cups, you and your friend at the other end need to keep the string taut by maintaing the distance between you two. And when the string is loose, you lose the connection. When you have a good connection/frame, your partner will feel like he/she is part of your body. Wherever you go, he/she can sense the movement from your body instantly. Here are a few checkpoints to help you maintain a strong frame:

  • Cup your partner's shoulder blade with your right hand
  • Lift your right elbow
  • Roll your shoulders back
  • Stand up straight
  • Engage your core (tuck your belly in!)

2. Take Decisive Steps. Accidents often happen when the driver isn't sure where he/she is going and is being hesitant with his/her moves. On the dance floor, when you are hesitant about your dance steps, your partner will often start leading and you will end up stepping on each other's toes. As a leader, you must take strong, intentional steps and be clear with your leads and signals. When you are new to a dance step, practice it a lot until you can perform it confidently. Remember, leader, you are in charge on the dance floor!

3. Lead with Your Body. One big misconception in leading is to lead with the arms and hands, which can cause a lot of yanking that is ineffective and uncomfortable to the followers. Remember, movements are initiated from the core/torso, your arms are simply the extension of the torso that connects to your partner. So, when you are about to take a step, think about moving your body first before you take the step. Along with a strong steady frame, your partner will be able to react to your movement accordingly when you lead with your body.

4. Be Gentle.  Relax your fingers and try not to squeeze your partner's hands. Your partner should feel some pressure from your hand but you shouldn't hold your partner's hand too tight that causes discomfort and/or hinder the fluidity of a movement, such as a spin. Spins are the very few movements that you use your hands and fingers to lead, but still, you don't want to force a spin. Instead, pay attention to where your partner's weight is before a spin, find the right time to initiate the spin and let momentum do the magic.  

5. Listen to Music.  When you are new to partner dance, I understand how difficult it is to listen to the music while executing all the details in leading. However, you must try your best to dance to the beat of the song. Even though your partner is supposed to follow you no matter how off you are with the music, it will make it easier and more enjoyable for your partner if you dance to the music. Check out my previous post that teaches you how to find the beat in music. 



What other suggestions and/or observations do you have regarding leading in partner dancing? Please share! Also, stay tuned for our upcoming post, How to Follow like Ginger Rogers!

Happy leading!


The Duet Team is a group of friendly dancers who are passionate about helping people and sharing the joy of ballroom dance. And we love to make new friends and have fun at work! Duet Dance Studio is located in Chicago West Bucktown. We offer ballroom dance lessons, wedding dance instruction and private dance parties. Online Wedding Dance Lessons and Skype dance lessons are also available! Dances we teach include Salsa, Swing, Tango, Bachata, Merengue, Waltz and Foxtrot. Sign up for an introductory dance lesson now to get started!

How to Lead Like a Man

 How to Lead like a Man

By Joe Donato,
all rights reserved 2007


There are all different types of ballroom dances, and different ways of classifying them. Youve surely heard them broken down into an overkill of categories: Smooth, Ballroom, Latin, American Rhythm, Freestyle, International, Argentine Tango vs. Ballroom Tango, Viennese Waltz vs. Argentine Valse, and of course all the different flavors of swing from Lindy Rhythm to Lindy Hop, Jitterbug to Jive, West Coast to East Coast, Balboa, Shag, Charleston, etc. But theres one thing that all partner dances have in common. In any dance you are learning, one of the best things to focus on is how to be a good leader. Do you think youre a good leader in any of these dances? Here are some signs of the fruits of being a good leader:


-When you make a mistake (not if, when), the woman will usually apologize, before you even have a chance to admit it was your bad.


-People will tell you that you make ANY woman you are dancing with, look like a pro.


-When you start dancing with a woman for the first time, she will have an initial look of terror on her face, which will then be followed by very large smile.


-Other men competing for the same partners will tend to either ignore you completely, or come to you asking for advice.


-You will notice that women will be making a beeline from across the room, to get a dance, specifically from you.


Each of these things has happened to me, and I know that it is NOT because of the moves I know, or some other special magnetism; it is simply because I learned how to lead. I wasnt always that way. I had to learn it. And you can too. Any man can learn. Here are a few things to remember when developing your lead:


A good lead is all about your frame. All dances have different postures, but the one thing that the woman needs to feel from the man, is the core momentum coming from the center of his gravity; the torso. And the part of your body through which a woman connects to your torso, is through your frame. The simplest way to define a good leader is that he has a good, consistent frame, which makes the woman feel like shes literally a part of the mans body. But Men, you do not lead with your arms, you lead with your Torso! Your arms just happen to be the tool that your torso uses to tell the woman where you are going. If you try to tell the woman where she is supposed to go with your arms, you will most likely end up pushing and pulling and the woman will feel like shes being yanked or shoved to another spot on the floor. But if the woman can feel your body (your torso that is), moving to that spot on the floor, it will feel like shes being carried there, instead of pushed. Here are a few crucial tips to help you maintain your frame:


 For your basic ballroom hold, in a perfect world, the distance between the mans chest, and the palm of his right hand (which is usually just under the womans shoulder blade) should never change. If your feet move forward 3.785 inches, your torso should also move forward 3.785 inches, and therefore, the palm of the hand has also moved forward 3.785 inches as well. If you moves back 1.6748 feet, your torso should have also traveled 1.6748 feet, and the palm of your hand should have also moved back 1.6748 feet, taking the woman 1.6748 feet forward. OK, math class is over.


Another way of thinking about it is to remember that the elbow joint never really contracts or extends. You could also say that the angle between the forearm and the bicep on each arm should never change either. Pretend your arms are in a cast, and/or your elbow joints are frozen. Youre starting to get the idea. And since we are talking about elbows, heres a great exercise: Put your arm out as if you are getting in dance position.


Pretend you are a butler, holding a towel in your right hand. Now look at your profile in a mirror with this stance. Your elbows should always be in front of your chest, not behind them. If the elbow is behind you, odds are your right shoulder is also sticking out, and ready for the womans mouth to take a bit out of it. Bring the elbows forward. This will also put your chest back, creating a concave shape. This will allow the woman to feel connected to you.


Now, raise the elbow up so that it is higher than the wrist. If your elbow is lower than the wrist, two things will happen that will hinder your frame. 1 Your arm will feel fatigue at the wrist, as blood has to travel up again to get to your hand. 2 It will be far too easy for that hand to "undulate" its distance from your chest, thus misleading the woman about how or when, your torso is moving.   I call this "shock absorbing". While it's necessary in automobiles, it's detrimental in a leader's frame.


When I first learned to develop my frame, it was about a month or two into serious training, and all I knew was that something was wrong and something needed to change. My partner was an experienced dancer and it was very intimidating to have to lead her. But I had no choice; I had to dance with her, it was my job. I first started to move my left leg forward but she just stood there. Arent you supposed to move now? I asked. I cant feel you was her response. I cant move, youre in my way, Ill run you over was probably my response. And there we were stuck at a standstill. It reminded me of the Dr. Seuss story The Zax about the two guys who found each other in their path, and neither would take proactive action to change that situation. They were both waiting for the other one to get out of their way. From what I remember, an entire city has built up all around them, and they are still there to this day. Well Men, in the world of ballroom dancing, it is the Leaders job to move first. Thats why were called the leaders.


What I finally discovered, was that if my frame is strong, as soon as I start to move; the very split second I gain a few millimeters of momentum moving forward, the woman will feel it and respond. It is not visible to the naked eye, but to this day, I make sure I first have a strong frame, and then I focus on sending my torso forward, unapologetically. The womans feet always magically get out of my way as she responds and travels backwards. I lose the precautionary tendency to waddle around her feet; I discover that I am free to take larger, freer steps. Just so long as my frame stays strong, the woman will be carried along with me. The woman responds every time and in all these years I've yet to run over anyone on the dance floor.


Heres another exercise: Next time you are in a supermarket, try pushing a full shopping cart from standstill. First, allow your elbow joints to expand and contract (i.e.: moving your arms). The shopping cart will not like you very much. Youll probably go back and forth between right into the cart, and being in a constant push-and-pull, tug-of-war with it. Now try it again, and dont think about it. Notice that when you start, from a standstill, you first encounter resistance from the shopping cart, but then your body reacts to that; your elbow joints tense up providing resistance and its the weight of your body, centered in your torso, which counteracts the shopping carts weight, causing it to go into motion. Youll feel yourself pushing not with your arms, but with your whole body: Your torso "rises to the challenge and then your feet get into the act. You start Pushing off the floor, until youve reached a nice steady velocity.


Now, youre free to deal with all the other stimuli coming at you from the aisles. Starting up a dance with your partner is very similar. And remember that a good leader of basic fundamental steps is ALWAYS better than a sloppy leader who knows a lot of fancy arm and foot patterns. What good are fancy moves if the woman you are dancing with feels like shes your public plaything?


Read through this article several times. If it was helpful, drop me a line and let me know, or tell others about it. Next time you dance, come back to the article and read it again. It will slowly start to sink in and hopefully, the size of the smile in your partners eyes will grow in direct proportion with your leading ability.


And if you are a follower reading this, I implore you to read the How to Follow like a Lady article. Dancing is symbiotic. Now that the man knows how to lead, the lady has no excuse and must learn how to follow. Let me help you, help your partner, and vice versa. Now go practice


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Russian Figure Skating Championship-2022.

Dancing on Ice Rhythm Dance Results

On December 23, the competitions in rhythm dance at the Russian Figure Skating Championship -2022 ended. The current world champions are in the lead - Victoria Sinitsina - Nikita Katsalapov . The current champions of Russia - Alexandra Stepanova - Ivan Bukin - the second. The debutants of the national championships are on the third line - Diana Davis - Gleb Smolkin , trained by Igor Shpilband

Davis - Smolkin , according to the results of the draw, opened the competition of dance duets. Contrary to popular belief, the first starting number did not become unsuccessful for the couple. The skaters were able to score a very high amount of 83.99 points and stayed on the top line of the standings until the performance of Stepanova - Bukin. After the performance, Gleb Smolkin commented on what it was like for them to perform first:

“Really a wonderful feeling. I personally was very happy with the first starting number, because I like to skate right away - I warmed up, went, did my best and sit down and relax. And now we will watch how the rest will suffer and prepare. To be honest, we don't care what kind of ride. The task was to show what we train, what we can do, and we succeeded. There was excitement, but everyone is worried. And we are used to using this excitement to our advantage.”

Gleb also told how he and Diana feel about high marks and how they assess their place on the Russian dance duet scene:

“Our expectations are to progress from tournament to tournament. So far we are satisfied with our rhythm dance. Estimates do not matter to us - we train with a coach who daily, every second reminds us that if you do not develop, this will not be reflected in the marks for the better. We feel like we're ready to compete."

Current Champions of Russia Stepanova - Bukin performed under the sixth starting number. With a total of 88.76 points, the duo overtook Davis - Smolkina, and according to the results of the rhythm dance, they lost only to Sitsinina - Katsalapov. Nikolai Morozov joined the coaching staff of Alexandra and Ivan after performances at the Grand Prix series. The skaters told how this affects their skating:

“In a word, you can’t say what Nikolai Alexandrovich brought to our pair - some nuances. These things are hard to explain, much easier to show on the ice and feel. We are also working on the energy of dance itself. Now our team has a lot of different coaches, we hear a lot of different opinions. And if you listen to them, you will be able to develop twice as fast.”

Ivan Bukin also spoke about his impressions of the skating and how their duet manages not to obsess over the Olympics:

“First of all, you want to prove to yourself that you can, what you can do, and today we did it. We don’t have the Olympic Games in our head right now, we have the Russian Championship. We live for today. It is very difficult for athletes to look far ahead. There are injuries and other different situations in sports. Today we have the championship of Russia.

Sinitsina - Katsalapov were the last ones to take to the ice. The reigning world and European champions scored a grandmaster sum of 93.61 points and took first place in the rhythm dance. The dancers really showed one of the best performances of the season today. Nikita Katsalapov commented on the duo's performance at the press conference:

“The fact that we skated well, first of all, is due to a job well done. The more we roll programs, the more confident we are in what we are doing. Secondly, of course, I already said today that I was nervous before going out, but the audience is crazy in general. This is its own audience, it's very cool, we adore it and always love to skate at home. They helped a lot even before the music started, before the performance, and during the five-minute session they supported us and clapped, Vika, there, shouted some separate phrases. Here it all somehow played together today. It's really fun to ride."

“Today is one of the best performances for sure. I just heard Vanya [Bukin] in the locker room. He skated in the previous warm-up, and when he arrived, someone asked him: “Well, how is it?” And he said: “I really enjoyed it!” I, like that, think: “Well, if Vanya said, then you definitely need to relax - everything will be cool!” And in fact, I was nervous before going out, but when they went out with Vika on the ice, and when the audience met the athletes, just wow! I enjoyed this moment, and during the performance I looked at Vika, who was looking back at me. I was just the happiest and didn't want to stop at all."

Dance duets will perform in the free dance on December 24th.

Ice Dancing | Results of the Rhythm-Tan
  1. Victoria Sinitsina-Nikita Katsalapov-93.61
  2. Alexander Stepanova-Ivan Bukin-88.76
  3. Diana Davis-Gleb Smolkin-83.99
  4. 9005-Jonathan Gureiro-79. 36
  5. Elizaveta KHUDAIBERDIEVA — Egor BAZIN — 77.91
  6. Anastasia SKOPTSOVA — Kirill ALYOSHIN — 75.36 Women (18 participants): Kamila Valieva, Ksenia Gushchina, Anastasia Zinina, Anastasia Morozova, Sofya Murafyeva, Arina Onishchenko, Veronika Peterimova, Adelia Petrosyan, Sofya Samodelkina, Sophia Samodurova, Polina Sviridenko, Xenia Sinitsina, Alexandra Trusova, Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, Khromykh Maya, Shulskaya Valeria, Shcherbakova Anna, Yametova Veronika
  7. Men (18 participants): Aliyev Dmitry, Anisimov Andrey, Gumennik Petr, Danielyan Artur, Dikidzhi Vladislav, Erokhov Alexei, Ignatov Makar, Kovalev Artem, Kolyada Mikhail, Kondratyuk Mark , Lutfullin Gleb, Semenenko Evgeny, Mozalev Andrey, Rukhin Egor, Savosin Roman, Samarin Alexander, Sarnovsky Kirill, Yablokov Ilya
  8. Sports couples (12 pairs) : Akopova Karina - Rakhmanin Nikita, Artemyeva Yulia - Nazarychev Mikhail, Boikova Alexandra - Kozlovsky Dmitry, Geinish Ekaterina - Mironov Ilya, Kadyrova Yasmina - Balchenko Ivan, Mishina Anastasia - Gallyamov Alexander, Mukhortova Anastasia - Dmitry Evgeniev, Daria Pavlyuchenko - Denis Khodykin, Ekaterina Petushkova - Evgeniy Malikov, Evgenia Tarasova - Vladimir Morozov, Natalya Khabibulina - Ilya Knyazhuk, Ekaterina Chikmareva - Matvey Yanchenkov
  9. Dancing on Ice (14 duets): Diana Davis - Gleb Smolkin, Ksenia Ermakova - Vladislav Panteleev, Tiffany Zagorski - Jonathan Gureiro, Angelina Lazareva - Maxim Prokofiev, Ekaterina Mironova - Evgeny Ustenko, Annabelle Morozov - Andrei Bagin, Victoria Sinitsina - Katsalapov Nikita, Skoptsova Anastasia - Aleshin Kirill, Stepanova Alexandra - Bukin Ivan, Pavlenina Vlad - Aleksanyan Alexander, Pasechnik Elizaveta - Blinov Dmitry, Ushakova Arina - Nekrasov Maxim, Khudaiberdieva Elizaveta - Bazin Egor, Shanaeva Elizaveta - Narizhny David
  10. Broadcast schedule

    The Russian Figure Skating Championship will show Channel One completely on the website and partly live. Translation time is indicated by Moscow (GMT +3)

    December 22 (Wednesday)

    • 1 19:25 Excellenka

    23 (Thursday)

    • 13:10 men. Short Program
    • 16:00 Ice Dancing. Rhythm dance
    • 18:15 Opening ceremony
    • 19:00 Couples. Short program

    December 24 (Friday)

    • 12:40 Ice dancing. Free dance
    • 15:10 Men. Free program
    • 18:15 Women. Short program

    December 25 (Saturday)

    • 15:25 Couples. Free program
    • 17:55 Women. Free program

    December 26 (Sunday)

    • 13:55 figure skating
      ⛸ Favorites and main characters of the 2021/2022 season in figure skating
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      Kaganovskaya and Angelopol are in the lead after the rhythm dance at the Czech Republic among juniors

      Kaganovskaya and Angelopol lead after the rhythm dance at the Czech Republic among juniors

      Kaganovskaya and Angelopol lead after the rhythm dance at the Czech Republic among juniors - RIA Novosti Sport, 01/20/2022

      Kaganovskaya and Angelopol lead after the rhythm dance at the Chechen Republic among juniors

      Figure skaters Vasilisa Kaganovskaya and Valery Angelopol lead after the rhythm dance at the Russian Junior Championships, which takes place in Saransk. RIA Novosti Sport, 20.01.2022

      2022-01-20t22: 24

      2022-01-20t22: 24

      2022-01-20t22: 32


      Championship of Russian Figure Skating among juniors

      Irina Khavronina

      Sofya tytynunina 9000 9000 9000 9000 Alexander Shustitsky




      MOSCOW, January 20 - RIA Novosti. Figure skaters Vasilisa Kaganovskaya and Valery Angelopol lead after rhythm dance at the Russian Junior Championships, which takes place in Saransk. For their performance, the dance duet received 72.95 points. Sofia Tyutyunina and Alexander Shustitsky are second (72.81). Third place is occupied by Irina Khavronina and Dario Chirizano (71.46). Figure skaters will present free dances on Saturday. The tournament will last until January 22.


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