Basic Step with a Partner

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In the Basic Step lesson we learned how to dance a Basic Step without a partner, and Home Position - which we're going to use in this lesson. Next we're going to learn how to dance the Basic Step with a partner.

Points to Remember

  • Stand directly in front of each other.
  • Close enough to your partner to touch elbows.
  • Leads right arm on the shoulder blade.
  • Follows left arm on top of the lead's.
  • Start on count 1 of the music.
  • Maintain the space between you.
  • Leads don't be scared to lead.

Closed Hold

To dance the Basic Step with a partner, we need to create the connection with our partner.  The first connection we're going to use is Closed Hold.  First, stand facing each other in Home Position - close enough to touch elbows.

The Lead places their right hand on the Follow's left shoulder blade.  Not the ass, waist or hip!  The Follow places their left arm on top of the Lead's right arm.  Make sure to close any gaps, so the arms are connected all the way down.  At this stage, the Follow should make sure that their left hand is on the front of the Lead's shoulder.

The Follow should shape their right hand like they're holding a small bird - firm enough that it won't fly away, but not so firm that you'd hurt it.  Then the Lead places the middle two fingers of their left hand into the 'Lego' hand created by the Follow.  The Follow should 'give the Lead their right arm' - that means relax it, so if the Lead let go the Follow's arm would fall away.

Leads, make sure that you actually hold your partner - don't be scared to actually lead!  Follows, 'chase' the hand on your shoulder blade - that means you're trying to stay connected with that hand and you won't let it get away from you.

And don't forget to smile!  It can feel strange at first to be face-to-face with someone so close, you won't know where to look.  Relax and have fun.

Dancing the Basic

The steps happen exactly like we learned them in the previous lesson.  The Lead initiates the Basic Step by stepping forward on the first count of the music.  It is important for the Follow to have a 'good frame'.  Don't let the space between you collapse or increase.  As the Lead tries to step into your space, you'll develop tension in your arms to maintain the space between you and this will encourage you to step back.  Similarly, when the Lead steps away from you - don't let your arms straighten and keep the same distance to your partner.

Now you'll see why the steps are different for a Lead and Follow and how they fit together.  Try dancing through the Basic Step with a partner to some music, starting on count 1 of the music.

Frame Exercise

To get this idea of frame, which is just as important for Leads as Follows, try the following exercise.

Get into Closed Hold with your partner.  Leads, guide your partner around your dance space - don't worry about any proper steps or timing, just move around.  Follows, let your partner guide you around the room and make sure to maintain the space between you.  Don't let your partner get closer to you or stretch away - stay with them.  For maximum effect - Follows close your eyes!  Feel where you should be going and try to keep your feet underneath you.

Next we're going to learn the Side Step without a partner, before dancing it with a partner.