"Dancing Tid-bits" Issue #220, Thursday, January 26, 2006
Precedes and Follows
It may sound very basic to some but for some beginner students it may be the first time they are hearing these simple terms. It just happened that I was teaching a beginner cha cha class the other day and many could not answer my question i.e. what is meant by a "Precede" and "Follow"? So, this tid-bit.
As we all know a dance routine comprises of many "steps". This word "step" is used loosely. Some may mean that a step is a particular step, forward back or whatever. However many of us perhaps mean that a certain combination of steps is what may be termed a pattern and this is called a step. The actual name for this set of steps is appropriately called a "Figure". To give you an example, a Feather step is a Figure in Slow Foxtrot; so is a Three Step. Similarly Natural Top is bronze figure in Rumba and Cha Cha Cha.
Now let's go back to, what is meant by a Precede or Follow?
When you start to build a choreographic routine, you take a combination of figures and put them in such a way that your dance moves on in an orderly fashion with ease and enjoyment. In a Ballroom situation such as Waltz or Tango you connect one figure to the other to maintain flow of dance around the line of dance paying particular attention to alignments etc.
So, to put it very simply, you need a proper preceding figure to be followed by another proper figure. The preceding figure thus becomes a "Precede" and the following figure becomes a "Follow". As simple as that.
Having said all, it is extremely important for us in our earlier training that we stick to standard basic Precedes and Follows as given in our textbooks. These were intensely practiced, investigated and researched by our fathers of ballroom and latin dancing for smooth flow of a dance routine and then with a consensus were put in the standard technique described in many technique books. As you become more proficient, you can perhaps add more to your armamentarium but honestly even world champions don't run out of standard precedes and follows, so don't try to be too innovative.
Examples: a Preparation Step could be a Precede for a Feather Step in slow fox and a Follow to feather step is most commonly a Reverse Turn. Similarly Reverse Turn is a good Precede for a Three Step Followed by Natural Turn.
Similarly, a basic step in Rumba can be preceded by a preparation step and then followed by a Fan. Also a Basic will be a good precede for a Fan and a good Follow after the fan, will be a Hockey Stick.
So on and so forth. Sorry, if I went too basic, so what....Best wishes, Max