The two basic questions are
How do I tell her what I want her to do?
How do I help her to do what I want her to do?
Let us look first at the essential features needed when two people try to dance together. A car with two steering wheels would never get anywhere. Therefore there can only be one driver and that ladies happens to be the man. That does not mean that you have no say in the matter, but what you have to say must be discussed and worked through when you are on your own, when you are at a practice session or when you have your lesson. When you step onto the competition floor it is your job to do exactly what the man asks of you and to trust him in all matters, responding precisely to his leads. He has enough to do in deciding what to do next and watching for spaces on the floor, without having to wony about whether you are going to follow him or not. However before all the ladies try to lynch me, and don’t forget I am a lady too. Let me explain that to get the best from his lady the man must learn the correct way to lead and not to ask her to do the impossible. What is required then are good leading skills in the man and good following skills in the lady coupled with a sensitivity to each other that allows a sense of satisfaction and freedom of expression for both partners.
The dancing partnership consists of equal although slightly different roles. What also must be understood by the beginner dancer is that dancing is a big con trick. Whan you first look at an expert couple it seems as though the man does all the work moving the girl here, there and everywhere and that she only goes where she is put. That is how it is meant to look but that is not how it actually happens. This illusion is only created by total co-operation between partners and an equal input of strength, body toning, energy and effort. Therefore if the mans lead tells you to move from A to B the only thing you will take from the man is the shape, the timing and the distance of that movement. If you are in any way using the man either by leaning on him or pulling him then you are not doing what you should. You therefore need to develop a body position where your centre is reaching towards the man, a sensitivity to his movements so that you move as and when he does and a strength in the legs and feet and tone in the body so that you move there within your own strength and balance. Although strength in the whole body is important here, strength in the feet is especially important as this is what controls balance and movement. If you are not prepared to work on developing strength in your feet so that you can maintain your own balance then you will soon exhaust your partner’s energy and patience.
May I now emphasise that you must always follow your man, even when you know that you are doing it wrong. How otherwise will he learn that he is leading wrongly. In a practice session try sticking to him like a limpet (in the right position of course). He will soon then realise that he is doing something wrong and will be able to work out how to correct it to get you in the right position. If you continue to go your own way he will never know he is wrong and will continue in the belief that he is right and you are just being awkward and won’t be lead.
As I have previously mentioned all this must be worked out during practice so that when you walk on the competition floor he can be sure that you will follow him exactly and consistently and that any change he has to make will be followed calmly and precisely.