“Leading” (usually done by the man) and “Following” (usually done by the woman) is an issue specific to ballroom dancing. Actually, in an effort to be more politically correct, leading is nowadays often called “indicating”. However, that does not change the general pattern.
Yes, I know, for one it has historical reasons: In Old Europe, where the origins of ballet and ballroom dancing are, the roles of males and females were sharply defined along gender differences (the reasons being partially realistic, partially chauvinistic).
So what, we could say. Who cares what the historical roots are. Don’t we have female presidents, astronauts, and combat soldiers nowadays? So why can’t we get it right on the dance floor?
Well, being a women’s rights advocate and a ballroom dancer at the same time, I can see that it is not that simple. There is a good reason for the lead-and follow pattern – or whatever you call it.
The reason is that the ultimate goal in partner dancing is to be synchronized to the point where two become one. Then the couple is “in flight” as a single unit which is a gorgeous sight. That cannot be achieved by two people doing the same thing, but only by having clearly defined roles as natural opposites – and sticking to them (and yes, that can be two women or two men, but they have to be in the feminine/masculine roles).
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