The majority of partner dances have a clear leader and follower and they each require very different skills. The leader is responsible for deciding what moves will be performed, as well as changing the timing and direction of the follower. And the follower’s role is to be sensitive to the cues given by the follower and to execute the moves that are initiated.

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In almost all partner dances, the leader is the man and the follower is the woman, but there has been a rise in recent years of throwing these ideas on their head. Same-sex (and same-gender) dancing is on the rise throughout the dance world, but that brings with it the question: who leads and who follows?

Most people will naturally gravitate towards a lead or a follow position. If you are able to plan out moves in advance and like to be in control of what’s happening, and you’re able to communicate well, then leading can be a good position for you. On the other hand, if you have good reaction times and are able to be adaptive in the moment, and are a good listener, then leading could be the best option for you.

But do we even need a lead and a follow anymore? More and more people are learning both positions, and there’s no reason why you can’t lead for some dances and follow for others. And one of the most exciting developments with the rise of same-sex dance couples is that now the lead and the follow can switch partway through the dance, which can add a whole new dimension to a routine.

Check out this video of Daniel and Shawn performing urban kiz as a same-sex dance couple and you will see just how fun and innovative turning partner dancing gender norms on their head can be.

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