Asking men to follow?
In the realm of social dance, the traditional norms of gender roles are being challenged.
Different people have run experiments highlighted important insights about perceptions and comfort levels. When women randomly ask men to follow them in a dance, many of the men were caught off guard. It might be just a surprise or something deeper as it is contrary to existing roles in dancing. However, a significant number were open to trying, which speaks to the potential for changing these norms.
This is exacerbated by programs like Rolerotation and by learning in a school group where the lack of either women or men often lead to a man or woman to assume a non-traditional role.
While some men felt uncomfortable or unprepared to follow, others appreciated the opportunity. Their experiences offered them a fresh perspective on the follower’s role and a deeper understanding of the dance.
This experiment underscores the need for flexibility and openness in dance roles. By breaking away from traditional expectations, we can create a more inclusive and versatile dance community. Dancers will have the freedom to explore and enjoy dance in new and fulfilling ways.
Leading as a woman?
Leading as a woman in social dance can be a transformative experience, breaking traditional norms and opening up a realm of new opportunities. There are several compelling reasons why women should consider taking on the leader role.
Firstly, learning to lead can improve one’s overall dance skills. It allows understanding of the dynamics of both roles and enhances communication and connection with a partner. Secondly, leading can foster creativity, as it empowers the dancer to dictate the flow and rhythm of the dance.
Moreover, being a female leader challenges gender stereotypes and promotes equality on the dance floor. It sends a powerful message about the capability of women to take charge and assert themselves.
Finally, it can alleviate the common problem of follower surplus in social dances. With more women stepping into the leader role, it creates a balanced dance ecosystem, making social dances more enjoyable and accessible for everyone.
Let’s start awareness about language
In the dance community, language plays a significant role in shaping perspectives and fostering inclusivity. It’s important to promote awareness in the way we use language, to ensure everyone feels welcome and respected.
Traditional dance roles have been divided into ‘leaders’ and ‘followers’, often associated respectively with men and women. However, such labels can potentially enforce gender stereotypes, limiting the scope of exploration and growth for dancers.
As noted by Rachel Cassandra, a renowned (former) kizomba instructor and activist for inclusive dance communities, “We have a responsibility to examine our language…We can easily shift to ‘the person who did X was leading’ or ‘the person wearing Y was following'”. This approach helps dissolve preconceived notions about gender roles in dance, acknowledging the reality that anyone, regardless of gender, can take up either role.
In the same vein, using gender-neutral language can encourage more people to try different roles, fostering a more dynamic and diverse dance environment. It allows individuals to express themselves freely and fosters a broader, more inclusive community.
Moreover, inclusive language respects dancers who identify outside the gender binary, making dance a safe and welcoming space for all. After all, dance is a universal language, meant to connect people and not divide them.
Being conscious of language in dance ensures a respectful, inclusive, and diverse community. It enhances our dance experience, encourages creativity, and allows us all to grow together as dancers.
..and when they say no to you? the inner game
Navigating the social dance scene requires understanding and respecting the etiquette surrounding the act of asking and being asked to dance. It’s essential to remember that a person has the right to say no to a dance invitation, and that “no” should always be respected. Various reasons may lead to someone declining an invitation – they might be tired, not feel comfortable with a certain dance style, or simply need a break.
If your invitation is declined, it’s crucial to respond with grace and understanding, not taking the refusal personally. Remember that a “no” is not necessarily a reflection of your dance abilities or your persona. It’s just part of the social dance experience.
Asking someone to dance can be nerve-wracking, and a rejection can sting. However, resilience is a valuable trait in the dance community. The ability to handle rejection gracefully, learn from the experience, and continue asking others to dance contributes to a more positive, respectful community.
Ultimately, the social dance scene is about enjoyment, connection, and respect for one another. Understanding and respecting the meaning of “no” is an integral part of this community ethos.