General Dance Discussion > How do I encourage a follow to give honest feedback?

Discussion in 'General Dance Discussion' started by ticolora, Nov 24, 2017.

  1. ticolora

    ticolora Member

    As a [beginner] lead I am sure I am making many mistakes that I am oblivious to.
    I would like a follow to give me honest feedback after the dance and point out those.
    However, I would imagine that pointing out mistakes after the dance would be seen as rude, or at very least awkward.
    How do I solicit feedback from a follow, without making it awkward?
  2. RiseNFall

    RiseNFall Well-Known Member

    On the social dance floor or during a class? I just wouldn't on the social dance floor, and I would be cautious even during a class. Your best indication is whether the follower executes what you intended, and is it comfortable for both of you. I can on rare occasion give a leader a suggestion, but I don't know how to lead or how to to teach leading. Are going to lead like a top-notch very experienced leader? No. Can I tell the difference. Yes. Do I have a clue what the next thing you need to learn on your leading journey is? No. Even if I knew, am I experienced at explaining leading concepts? No.

    During a class, my primary help for a leader is to try a)dance what they lead and b)ask the teacher for help. I will sometimes ask the teacher to come over to figure out what's going wrong, but if something has happened with a couple of different leaders I'll also ask it as a class question--either the leaders or I need something clarified at that point.
    bia likes this.
  3. bia

    bia Well-Known Member

    I agree with RiseNFall, with one caveat: you can't really know whether it's comfortable for me as a follower unless I tell you, and that it something I'm able and willing to tell you, though I won't volunteer it unless we know each other well or what you're doing is significantly painful to me. So I'd be fine with being asked, "Is my hold comfortable for you?" or similar, and I'd respond by telling you if you're doing something uncomfortable (e.g., claw hand on my back, squeezing my hand, etc.). That said, if you dance with a teacher sometimes, she'll make you aware of that kind of thing.
    RiseNFall likes this.
  4. ticolora

    ticolora Member

    @RiseNFall, @bia : I agree with both of you. My question was about social dance (I meant but neglected to mention that). During a group class, I can stop and try something a couple of different ways and then ask which felt best. But after a social dance, if I'm doing something wrong - I would like to know that (I found that some mistakes are easily corrected once identified).
  5. PaulBunyon

    PaulBunyon Active Member

    The best way to get honest feedback from a follower is to pay them for it. If you have a private instructor I am sure you know what I mean. Some weeks I leave my lesson with so much "honest feedback" I don't know what to do with all.
    kckc, RiseNFall and Bailamosdance like this.
  6. Bailamosdance

    Bailamosdance Well-Known Member

    In a social setting, if the responder (follower) does something unexpected, either 1. your lead was incorrect and your lead was misinterpreted 2. your lead was correct and your lead was misinterpreted 3. your lead was correct and your lead was ignored 4. your lead was incorrect and your lead was ignored.

    Don't overthink a social setting - the goal there is to interact musically and dynamically. For example, your beginner lead is responded to differently by different dancers, with different training. Your advanced lead is responded to differently by different dancers, with different training. Who knows? LOL. Just enjoy the dance and enjoy the unexpected as well as the successful...
    RiseNFall likes this.
  7. j_alexandra

    j_alexandra Well-Known Member

    At a social, a leader who was new to me asked me to tell him if there was anything he did that needed to be better. HE ASKED. At one point, he raised his arm to lead an underarm turn, but didn't indicate whether it was to be an inside or outside turn. I waited. He asked why I wasn't moving. I told him I couldn't go where he was sending me, if he wasn't sending me in a particular direction.


    Moral of the story: just b/c they ask doesn't mean they want to hear it.
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  8. ticolora

    ticolora Member

    @j_alexandra, ooo... that's good!
    How about telling a follow "Please let me learn from my mistakes. If my lead is not clear - don't do it." I always say that during a lesson (private, group, or private practice), but there is no reason to not ask for that at the social dance? or is there? would "not following an unclear lead" diminish the fun of a social dance encounter?
    j_alexandra likes this.
  9. RiseNFall

    RiseNFall Well-Known Member

    It would be fine with me, but not necessarily with everybody. And not every follower could even do it. A lot of followers are in fact thinking, "oh, a such-and-such is being led, let me do that" rather than really, completely following--and aren't really aware that they are doing it.

    I have certainly had leaders in a class say, "help me out here"--meaning they don't quite have the steps down and if I can fill in please do, and I've also had them say, "please do what I lead so that I can judge how I'm doing it." I think I on my own decided that two leaders who I had been "filling in" some for (they were beginners--it is necessary!!) were ready for me to do what they led while social dancing. :hilarious: You could see the "oh, darn, she's going to do what I lead" on their faces, but they were both also pleased as they started figuring it out. So, I guess it might work if you know the follower.
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  10. snapdancer

    snapdancer Well-Known Member

    How do you know the follower has enough mastery of dancing to be able to give you constructive feedback? At the beginning stages, we have a hard time judging how well others dance.

    Try dancing with a number of different followers. If 90% of them can follow a lead, it's probably good enough. If 90% of them can't follow, then you don't know the step. And if 10% to 50% can't follow you have improvements to make. You should get competent dance instruction to help figure out how.

    The best honest feedback a follower can give is to follow what you led, as best she can.
    RiseNFall likes this.
  11. IndyLady

    IndyLady Well-Known Member

    I think this is key. I get asked frequently for feedback because I am one of the more advanced students. My instinct is to be wary of offering tips, as someone said earlier, sometimes you think you want feedback but then it's not what you want to hear. Having said that, most of the leads I've accommodated have been pretty appreciative.

    One common thing that beginners do during smooth dance basics is not stepping straight into me on the forward step with their right foot between my legs. They do a kind of hesitant "forward and slightly side" dodge. I think it is initially uncomfortable to power straight into someone else like that (esp someone you don't know well) as it feels aggressive, so I will often correct this if asked or if the lead is so new that I can tell they are still "malleable" and it is making it hard to follow.

    Other than that, I would re-iterate the "someone you know" quote. The first time (or two, or five) I dance with someone, I am feeling out and getting used to their lead. Even with people I know, I can't always pinpoint exactly what they are doing "wrong". I'm also concentrating on my own following, so it's not like I'm 100% focused on monitoring the intricacies of someone's lead. And I may be caught up in the music so I really wasn't paying attention.

    Also, re snapdancer's estimates... we all make mistakes, so just because I didn't follow your lead correctly, doesn't mean it's all on you. Sometimes I'm in la-la-land, or have muscle memory for a similar feeling lead that's a different figure entirely, or just inexplicably fubar something. Law of large numbers rules here, don't extrapolate too much from one incident.

    Finally, OP, at the risk of sounding like I'm sugar coating, I wouldn't categorize it so much as "mistakes" as "opportunities for technical improvement".
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  12. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    While I understand why you would want to do this, it's best not to. People are there to dance, not provide critiques. It would probably be OK every once in a while when you lead something you're unsure of to ask her after, "was that ok?" But keep it brief and accept a brief answer. If you want more detailed discussion, it's better to do it during a practice session where people get together for just that purpose. However, that said, I just wouldn't trust the word of the average social dancer. They may give you bad information. Just ask your teachers.
    FancyFeet and IndyLady like this.
  13. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    Again, you're there to social dance. Allow yourself to have fun, and give your partner the same opportunity. Telling her how she's allowed to dance with you is off-putting and potentially puts her in an awkward position.
    IndyLady likes this.
  14. FancyFeet

    FancyFeet Well-Known Member

    At a social, I hesitate to give any feedback at all. And I'm not sure how common this is, but at some locations, I'm actually not allowed to comment - the owners/staff/organizers see it as teaching (despite the fact that I don't teach) and treat me like a rival instructor. If a lead was actively pushing me for feedback and not accepting the 'that was lovely' in one of the places where I'm not allowed so say more, I'd be in a really uncomfortable position. I can't really say 'sorry, the organizers here have been clear that they're really uncomfortable with me being here given my level and have placed conditions on my attendance', and I can't go against what they'd asked me to do... so I'd probably be avoiding that lead in the future, even if I honestly did have a great time.

    Practice parties are a little different. OP, if you're looking for more feedback, they might be more what you want.
  15. j_alexandra

    j_alexandra Well-Known Member

    And on the other side of the coin: just when I started social dancing, and was your basic nightmare newbie, I did a rumba with a kind, helpful, experienced leader. After the dance, he very, very nicely pointed out to me that firehose deathgrip doesn't make for optimal rumba, and I might want to think about relaxing some. He phrased it much more nicely than that, and I took it well (I think) and worked on it. He never asked me to dance again. Until.

    Fast forward to social dancing *last night*, when I danced with him for the first time in, say, nearly 10 years. He had completely forgotten me, I think, b/c he said something about remembering what a good dancer I was, and how easily I followed him.

    Did I keep my mouth shut? Or did I tell him the firehose/deathgrip tale, and point out that we hadn't danced again until now?


    FWIW, he did ask me to rumba, later in the evening.
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2017
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  16. j_alexandra

    j_alexandra Well-Known Member

    More tales from last night: I went with a dance buddy, who is a lovely dancer. For some reason, most of the leaders who asked her to dance were abusive twits with terrible timing (which I know b/c they also danced with me). They told her what she was doing wrong, ignored her when she said she only did American style and forced her into Standard, and were verbally rude to her, as well.

    By the end of the night, my buddy felt like she was the worst dancer in the world. We had an intervention on the way home in the car.
  17. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    personally, I would respond very well to a statement before the dance that you are new and curious as to when your lead is being perceived or not and and invitation that when something didn't go right, I was free to inquire as to what it was you were trying to lead and why I may have missed it....I will say that in general, without that invitation, most women will not offer advice or observation because (IMO/IME) many of us have been on the receiving end of some men harassing us as to why we didn't follow this or that ...and it is usually unpleasant not with a tone of non-blame...personally, I would suggest that you seek a practice partner with which to work on these things
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  18. snapdancer

    snapdancer Well-Known Member

    I dance with a lot of women and don't remember all of them. I've been told by women whom I don't recognize that I've danced with them before.

    One relatively new dancer who was doing well told me that I had danced with her 6 months earlier when she first started and that she was really bad. I didn't remember that occasion, so I told her if she was bad, she wasn't memorably bad.
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  19. newbie

    newbie Well-Known Member

    Ask the follower in a way which will make it clear to her that you do want some feedback and not the usual politically correct lie.
    "Is there at least one thing that happened to be acceptable in my lead?"
    She will come up with something. If she takes time, then it's a lie. But if she answers promptly, then, having said something good about you she will now feel she's entitled to telling you all the bad things (and probably as a beginner everything is bad in your dance.)
    "Well you're wearing a clean shirt, and your perfume is not too strong. With this said, you're completely off the beat, your balance is non-existent, and you should stop muttering 1,2,3, 5,6,7 while dancing"
  20. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    fwiw, for me, if you keep your center connected to your arms and aren't mean or un-hygenic, the rest doesn't matter

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