January 1, 2016

What Is The Role Of A Lead & Follow With Spins?

by Magna Gopal

Question: This is regarding leads for spins.  Most of the time in workshops, teachers do not talk to the leaders about proper technique in spinning the women. I am forever wondering is it the follow or the lead? It’s 50/50 but am I, the follow, supposed to be able to do multiple spins even with a very poor lead? For instance, one of my dance partners spins women with his middle finger only – he does not give any power or speed.  He just basically rotates his finger without moving his arm.  His finger is pointing outwards in different directions as he rotates it instead of having his finger pointing downwards acting like a stable axis. My theory is that when he does that, he actually throws the women off balance. Another dance partner cups his index and middle fingers together. Could you please talk about your experience in following different leaders when they spin you?

Answer: First of all, you are not expected to follow more than what you are led. If a leader uses one finger but moves it around like he is touching the rim of a really big bowl, then your observation is correct and you would end up off balance. The more control you develop over your own body, the easier it will be to adjust to poor leads and eventually, execute a proper spin even in the presence of a poor lead.

Equal Responsibility

Aside from that, there is an equal responsibility between leader and follower. To get a perfect spin, both need to give the right signals and maintain a proper connection. I generally advise leaders to lead with one or two fingers, max, to provide a proper axis point. In addition to that, to get a woman to spin, it’s not about rotating the finger alone, it’s about controlling the spin from the core muscles which extend into the chest, shoulders, and arms. If a leader uses only finger strength to spin a girl, not only will he get exhausted quickly but he also risks injuring himself. There should be tension in the finger so it shouldn’t move much. There is also flexibility in the finger to accommodate the natural movement of the follower’s hand as it is cupped around the finger(s).  The follower’s hand position is also important to take note of. Different spins require different leads and hand connections (hands could be cupped, relatively flat, etc).

To explain further, would require a demonstration. 🙂 In summation, both leader and follower need to contribute equally and effectively to execute spins properly. Both have an equal responsibility. In the end, both follower and leader should feel comfortable and secure. When I have a perfect lead for a spin, I feel so at ease that I could do it for the next 10 minutes (not really…lol). But that’s the feeling. The connection feels natural and the movement that emanates from it feels equally natural, so sustaining the movement indefinitely feels entirely possible — whether it is or isn’t is another story.


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