Ballroom Leader

What does it take to become a good leader of Ballroom Dance?

The Ballroom Dance Leader-

  • has a good dance frame.  
  • suggests to the follower what step to do through their frame
  • knows where his follower is at all times 
  • knows his steps and then how to signal to lead the follower
  • Practices
  • makes a commitment to the follower to practice together 
  • knows his surroundings- A dance venue can be challenging with upcoming obstacles including other dancers. 
  • The leader does not let failure or mistakes stop him from dancing.  He learns from them and moves forward. 
  • The leader’s job is to show her off
  • He leads gently, not with an iron grip 
  • He leads with his core, center or heart. 
  • He is patient with the follower if she is struggling.  
  • The leader sets the tempo with the music.  He needs to know the beat of the music. 
  • The leaders never stop working on striving to become better.  He doesn’t give up

When you have a good leader, it makes following a pleasure!! : )

Our Connection

To begin the lead and follow of ballroom dance you need to learn about the dance frame.  The dance frame is your connection.  The connection points in ballroom dance are where your bodies touch.  The leader will communicate his next dance step through these connections.  If it is led well, the follower will respond.  He does not verbally tell the follower what to do.  Dan and I have been dancing for over 13 years and we still are working on it.  We continue to learn.  

 Four connection points:

o   Man’s left hand holding woman’s right

o   Man’s right hand on woman’s left shoulder blade (men:  keep elbow up, parallel with the floor and fingers together!)

o   Woman’s left elbow on man’s right elbow

o   Woman’s left hand on inside edge (near top) of man’s right shoulder(I put my thumb in front of Dan’s deltoid muscle)

The leader cannot lead without having a good dance frame. The follower cannot follow without a good dance frame.  The leader uses these connection points to lead the next step.  He gently signals the next move and she follows.  It is never done with force.  

The man’s ability to lead is the predominant factor in determining the skill level of the couple.  

·        If a beginning leader is matched to an advanced follower, the couple will only be able to dance at a beginner level (leader will not know how to signal nor dance the advanced movements)

·        An advanced leader can dance with a beginning follower and by doing proper lead movements, get the follower to do some movements that are above her skill level

Just because a man knows some advanced dance movements doesn’t mean he will be a good dancer – the question is, “Can he also be an advanced leader?”

The Lead and Follow

Ballroom dance (Latin, Ballroom and Swing)is a lead and follow dance.  The dancing Dan and I did before ballroom was a ‘shake your booty’ type of dance. We just shaked our bodies to the music. Our first date in 1980 was New Year’s Eve.  This was the style of dancing we did.  There was no lead and follow. This is not ballroom dancing.  

We have also done a little bit of line dancing.  Line dancing is done as an individual, in a group setting.  It is all choreographed.  You know what step comes next.  Many steps are repeated.  Everyone learns the steps and does them together.  This is not ballroom dancing. 

When Dan and I began taking ballroom dance lessons , we found out quickly that the lead and follow of the ballroom dance was much more difficult.   It is two individuals, learning their specific part, then coming together to dance.  To make the dance look good,  it takes lots of practice and patience.  The men learn the leader’s part and the women follow.  We compliment each other.  We each have our role and importance. 

We love to demonstrate in our dance class what it looks like to have 2 leaders.  We are each directing the other on where to go and what to do.  Let’s  just say, it does not go well.  You need one leader to move down the dance floor. 

Then we demonstrate what it looks like to have 2 followers. We both just stand there, waiting for the other to start the dance.  We do not move about the dance floor.  We just look at each other. We get nowhere.  There is no leader without a follower.  

Ballroom dancing is lead and follow and this is the only way it will work!  When it happens it is beautiful! 

God’s Word- Genesis 2:18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” NIV

Summer Dating

Part 5

Don’t forget to take time for each other! A few summer dating ideas!

  • Bicycling

Ely Try Dan and Debbies Creamery., Cedar Valley Nature Trail, Heritage Trail in Dubuque

  • Hiking
  • Botanical Gardens

Dubuque Arboretum- sure to check out the Ace Hardware near the entrance of the arboretum) 

Bickelhop Aboretum in Clinton, Iowa

Morgan Creek Park in Cedar Rapids-Aboretum

  • Summer Outdoor Dancing
Dubuque Aboretum

‘Big Max’

Part 4

Praying with your spouse, filling ourselves with the Good News, and memorizing scripture are great foundation builders.  It will not only keep ourselves on solid ground but also our marriage.  The last three blogs share how to navigate life’s valleys and hardships.  By building a strong foundation, we will be able to stay strong when trials come our way.  On earth there will always be foundation shakers!  God does not leave us without a road map or His help.

Let’s take a look at ‘Big Max’.  ‘Big max’ is a pumpkin seedling that I started this spring.  One of the many seedlings for my new sun garden.  The seedlings begin their new life with very comfortable growing conditions. The seedlings are in a protected environment.  A warm bedroom, LED light, shelving, water and a heat mat can get them started.  But are they ready for the real world?  I soon found out that you have to beat them up a bit before they can go outside.  Running a fan on them or brushing them with your hand strengthens their stem.  Their foundation or roots go farther in the soil with roughing them up.  

Then you begin what they call the hardening-off process.  You slowly expose the seedlings to their new outdoor home.  This new home is the beating sun, uneven temperatures, pounding rain and strong Iowa winds.  I put my seedlings in a sheltered spot outside for at least a week.  They will become stronger with gradual exposure. This prepares the young plants, including ‘Big Max’ for life outdoors. 

If they remain in a perfect undisturbed world, they will not be able to survive. 

I was thinking of how ‘Big Max’ is similar to our own life journey.  We can look at the times that we are being roughed up a bit, as a way of becoming stronger.  We all experience trials, but how will we respond?  Will we stand tall or fall over?  Will we turn to the Creator?  Will we be able to survive this world?  

God’s Word-Isaiah 41:10

So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

‘Big Max’

The Good News

Dancing Shoes

Back early in the pandemic, I remember a day that was full of bad news.  It looked like doomsday for the whole world.  We did not want to touch our groceries, mail or newspaper.  We were not able to even see anyone outside our home.  It looked very hopeless.  I quickly went to my desk computer and engrossed myself in all the bad news of the county and world.  After at least an hour of drinking in hopelessness, I went to get out of my chair and down I went on the floor.  My foundation was gone, and I could not feel my legs.  What I didn’t realize as I was sitting there, I had wrapped my legs back around my desk chair.  Both my legs had totally fallen asleep. (Not one of my brighter moments) : (

Dan was in the basement as I laid there. It seemed like eternity, as I waited for my legs to wake up again.  

This was a real turning point for me.  I realized that soaking in bad news, hours on end, is not good for me!  It is not good for anyone.  I sometimes feel that the news channels want us to feed on the bad news of the world, 24-7.  Of course they want us to be sucked in.  Whatever we feed into our hearts and minds will eventually come out! (Proverbs 4:23 NIV-Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. ) If we feed ourselves hopelessness, despair and negativity, that is how we will feel.  Fear will set in.  This will affect our closest relationships.  We will not be any help to anyone needing it. It will shake your foundation for sure!  Personally, it puts me in a very bad mood. 

I also knew I needed to take steps on feeding myself with good news!  The Good News that comes with our faith!  Hope that comes from reading God’s Word.  Faith is the opposite of fear! In the last few years Dan and I have begun memorizing God’s Word.  I have His promises hidden in my heart, ready at any time I need His assurance.  No one can take that away from me!  This is our hope and another foundation builder. 

Only You

Praying Together

I remember many years ago hearing someone say, “No one will pray for your spouse like you will.”  That has always been something that has challenged me.   With our foundations being shaken, prayer is a wonderful weapon.   It is a tool we can use to bring our marriage closer.  Why?  Prayer is a very intimate action, especially between husband and wife.  A question we have begun asking each other , “How can I pray for you today?”  By doing this, you find out what is happening in your spouse’s life. They can share immediate needs and concerns for the day.  This allows us as a couple to pray more specifically for each other than simply praying a general prayer, which often becomes our default.  Sometimes there are so many things to pray about, we tend to overlook the prayer needs of those closest to us. 

Praying together will help build a wonderful foundation for your marriage.  Only you will pray for your spouse like you can. 

Do you pray for your spouse?

God’s Word-Romans 12:12  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

Dancing Shoes

The right dancing shoes make a big difference in the look of ballroom dance.  Shoes that are too small, uncomfortable, too high or with no support makes for a long night of dancing.  We have experienced many of these.  Your feet are your foundation for dancing.  It takes a while to find the right shoe for a smooth looking dance! 

We had a couple taking our dance class mention that because of health issues, they could not feel their feet.  Another dancer had a time with his shoes never fitting well. Yes, this is a problem.  

In our marriage we need a solid foundation to make it through the ups and downs of this world.  Maybe in this last year you have experienced some.  We sure have!  It can be difficult to keep our marriage strong with so many trials.  

How do we build this foundation?  The world surely does not have the answer.  It looks hopeless. The only trustworthy foundation is God’s Word.  Reading it, meditating on it, praying it and then letting it lead us through life’s difficulties.  If there is no foundation, we will sink in the sand.  And as a married couple, it takes the two of us.  Sometimes, one of us may not be strong.  The other can encourage, be strong and lovingly get us both through a difficult time.  

Building a strong foundation takes time and work.  It will not come by watching the nightly news or checking social media. We don’t want to wait until a big trail comes before we start building a firm foundation.  

The bad news of a recent day made both of us stressed, not pleasant and in a bad mood.  Dan came to me, kissed me and said, “ We need each other to get through this.”  

Pray and read God’s Word together.  It will do wonders in your marriage.  

God’s Word- Matthew 7:24-27  “24 Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. 25 Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. 26 But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. 27 When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”(NLT)

Will You Be Missed?

Having fellowships outside our weekly dance class has always been a highlight for us.  I love planning  ways to get together.  Just to have fun.  Just to get to know couples better.  Just to laugh!  It is important for our well being!

A few of our dance/ fellowships:

  • Fall Barn Dance
  • Lakeside Dance
  • Coffee shop game night 
  • Christmas Ball
  • Tango in the Timber
  • Garden Dance
  • Game and Fellowships in couples homes 

One of the couples who had joined us for a year of ‘Dance with Me Ministries’, owned a small coffee shop.  We planned for an evening of coffee, food, fellowship and game night.  It was a wonderful atmosphere.  The game we were playing that night had this question; What do you think would be the worst way to die?  I thought that was an interesting question, but I was thinking of burning, or drowning or dying in a plane crash were my top three.  One gentleman playing the game replied , Loneliness.  Hmm, I did not say it at the time, but I thought that was a really strange answer.  But now after the Covid 19- lock down this last year, I totally get it.  We were separated from our family and friends.  We are social beings. We need each other. I heard yesterday a story about someone who had died in their home and no one knew for weeks.  They had no one that cared about them.  They will not be missed.  Yes, loneliness, a tragic way to die.  

God’s Word- Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Our Vows

Our Wedding Vows:

To have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I pledge thee my love.”

I remember the day we were married and how our wedding vows seemed so easy.  We were young, healthy, happy and in love.  Nothing on that day seemed like it would ever take us apart.  

Then life happens. Children, deaths, health, finances, stress, busyness and occupations all become reality.  Slowly, separation can occur.  It happens without you even realizing it. 

2020 was a year that we all experienced many hardships that most likely challenged our marriages. Our marriage vows were put to test, for sure.  

Along with the stresses of Covid, I threw in a bought with Kidney Stones.  Three surgery’s, a hospital stay and Dan catching my vomit was definitely a ‘for worse’ moment.  

We also experienced separation from our loved ones.

 In August a natural disaster, Derecho (land hurricane)destroyed our property, city and much of our beloved state.  After the Derecho,  I found myself not being able to move forward.  Dan helped me . 

We need each other. 

Being One-we can help each other get through the difficulties of life.  Our vows become real. Our vows are put into practice.  It is not easy, but with God’s help we can keep our vows to each other. We can remain One. 

God’s Word-Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 ESV

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.