Ballroom Dance Lesson: How To Become A Great Leader On The Dance Floor

Becoming a great leader on the dance floor is a noble goal with many rewards. It is also available to anyone who is willing to practice this elusive skill.

There are two key ingredients to becoming a great leader:

  1. Connection
  2. Clarity

In this topic, we will focus on the first key ingredient: “Connection.”


To lead someone, you must first establish a connection with that person. Offline, any attempt to lead will feel abrupt and unsettling.

To establish a connection with another person, you must first be connected with yourself. The best way to develop your inner connection is by consciously concentrating on your core area (one inch above the waist line to one inch below).

Its central area connects your entire body and provides you with a dynamic tension that adjusts to the speed and power of your movements. As you practice concentrating on your core area, you will feel your inner connection grow.

Establish a connection within yourself before asking a partner to dance and when you touch their hands, they will feel that connection and respond to it. They won’t know why, they just know that for some reason they dance better when they dance with you. You will try to connect from your main area to theirs; the hands and arms only help convey that intention.

A good exercise is to focus on your core area until you feel like your arms and body are connected. Put your hands in front of you (as if you are holding a tray). Now, with your feet side by side (approximately shoulder width apart), begin to transfer your weight from one leg to the other; make sure your arms and columns are connected and part of the weight transfer when transferring weight.

Now try this exercise with your partner in front of you; your palms are up and your partner’s are down; connect your hands at the fingertips (your arms will provide some upward tension and when done correctly it will provide reciprocal downward tension that will keep the fingertip connection).

Begin moving from one leg to the other making sure to communicate the weight transfer, not just by moving your hands from side to side, but by keeping your body connected and transferring your weight with all the columns of your body.

As you practice the exercise above, you will feel a connection with your partner as you move from one leg to the other. Since the hands are moving, you might think that it is the hands that are directing – try now to disconnect the core and direct with your hands only and you will notice that only your hands will follow yours and not your entire body.

The above exercise will do wonders for your connection within yourself and with your partner.

At first you will feel a bit stiff as you move with your partner from one leg to the other; this, however, is fine. You will soon establish a strong connection that will make this action as natural as breathing.

Connection is an elusive quality; And as a pilot before takeoff, it’s generally good practice to have a checklist of steps to help make sure we dance connected.

  • Focus on your core area to develop your inner connection.
  • Establish a fingertip connection with your partner as soon as you touch your hand by raising your arms slightly upward. Your goal is to connect from your core to your core.
  • Make sure you are connected with your partner as you get into a dance position by holding the lift up.
  • You should both lean slightly forward toward each other to maintain connection as you move.
  • Once you start dancing, you will alternate between leading and following your partner’s movement to ensure you maintain an ongoing connection.

Becoming a good leader is not something you learn, it is something you continually improve. Work on your connection and you will be on your way to becoming a great leader and a very popular dance partner.

The next number “Clarity”, the second key ingredient you need to become a great leader on the dance floor.

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