Some people talk about leading and following as a skill. I think this becomes overly simplistic. Of course, as Cheryl at The Enthusiastic Life points out, and I have also been taught at school any skill can be broken down into components, skills that may need to be practiced separately of the whole. As an example, I often think about something “as simple as” walking to be three or four isolatable skills. If I can teach them all at once to someone, great! If not, it’s perfectly fine to concentrate on one thing, go back to the whole, and hold the others for a later time. Physical therapy is structured this way all the time. I think that in some ways so are dance classes. Some people don’t get pulse the first time, but we still let them try and move to the music.
This means when people argue against learning to both lead and follow because “OMG so many learnz to have two different skillz” 1 I am more than a little confused. We are already tossing huge packets of skills at beginners. We don’t expect them to get any of it perfectly the first few months. Why would another packet, with over lapping skills be such an impossible challenge if the first isn’t?
I both lead and follow fairly consistently. I used to occasionally play lead when there was a (incredibly rare) night that was follow heavy. It was hard, and not something I did with any consistency because I was decent as a follow. To follow I didn’t have to work or think nearly as hard. It took a rib injury for me to start leading regularly. Learning to dance is hard. Learning to lead is hard. Learning to follow is hard. How many people choose to do a difficult thing when they can do the fun and easier thing? It makes sense to me to let people spend the first few awkward months when they are still trying to figure out how to move their bodies also grapple with the skill sets of leading and following.
1 This is me being ridiculous. Don’t take it personally.