When you have a very strong connection with the person you are dancing with and are familiar with them, you can sometimes enter a sort of predictive zen state that I can only describe as being similar to something I experience in SSBM sometimes. It’s like the art of mindreading and mindgames, except in SSBM you are predicting your opponent in order to overcome them, whereas in dance you are trying to help them achieve a better dance together.
I think this sort of state can happen regardless of whether you’re a lead or follow, and it works both ways–for leads, you basically know exactly what to lead and how to do it, and it all works, even without thinking about it. For follows, you know exactly what is being led–sometimes even before it’s led.
Tonight, though, I experienced this kind of exquisite in-tune-ness to the extent of prediction, with my fellow dancers who do both lead and follow in the same dance. There are only a few people whom I know who can really keep up with me when I play around with both lead/follow, give and take when I’m dancing, and so my opportunities for experiencing this kind of thing aren’t quite so abundant. But it is really, =really= something unique to experience. Because you =know= what the other person is going to do to you next, you start to backlead yourself into their moves, and then after that, lead (or backlead) the next move in a chain. It’s a totally different sort of dance when both people are simultaneously leading each other and helping each other like this. There is no longer a sense of impulse, response, impulse, response…instead it is a fluid stream of motion where anything is possible. It’s like comparing a call-and-response melody to a melody played at the same time as a counter-melody, or harmonized chords. And of course, there is nothing quite like a follow who not only executes the move you’re thinking of even without having to be led at all, but then tacks on something more to it at the end, that you would have thought of anyways.
It’s really quite amazing.
If I recall correctly, Richard Powers has sometimes compared dancing to talking–debating, even. The lead will strike up a point, and the follow will respond in turn with their interpretation or argument or rebuttal or whatever. But…in this analogy, the lead is still the one striking up all the points. When we do leadfollow together, both people are striking up points all the time, and when we do leadfollow with a strong connection…well, it is like you don’t even have to strike up the points; it’s telepathically understood.