Our lines of communication and connecting through dance

Michael Haug

Before internet we had phones, before phones we had letters, before letters we had face-to-face conversation, before conversation we had emotional expression, and before emotional expression we had only action and reaction. With less lines to communicate back then we had significant emphasis on single messages as we attempted to clearly communicate our intent to others.

Like real life, when we have limited connection points as we dance, it is very necessary we focus on clear intent and communication; otherwise, lost in translation becomes a reality. How do we do this? As a lead, we ensure the connection points, at all times, move exactly where we intend our follow to move. As a follow, we literally feel the heck out of these connection points.

In today’s society, we have so many lines of communication: phone call, text message, social media, email, snail mail, app this, app that, etc. This makes communicating with others so much easier, but it also puts significant pressure on us to communicate who we are and how we feel (not a bad thing).

Like in real life, the more connection points we have in dance, the stronger we can express our intent. If we are connected via hands, arms, and even tummies, it is much easier to use all these points and communicate our killer dance moves.


When you are having a challenging time communicating (leading) with Ms. Jiggly Wiggly, don’t grab or push her to emphasize your intent. Instead, add more connection points (in a non-creepy manor) to better lead your dance moves. Drop more hints to your partner. If I’m dancing with just hands on hands connection and my follow is dancing to a different tune then I am, then maybe start dancing hands to back, and elbows to elbows. I guarantee she’ll at least have a better sense of what you are trying to lead.


If you’re dancing with Mr. Cool & Crazy and you can’t understand what he wants you to do, connect your entire arm to his arm, and maybe hands to his shoulder or back area. This will encourage him to actually lead you and not just be Mr. Cool & Crazy, and hope you follow.

The ultimate goal as a lead is, regardless of how many connection points you are using, that you are able to feel what your partner can and cannot follow, that you move so clearly and intently that your follow always knows where to move next.

The ultimate goal as a follow is, however much or little information your lead is giving you, you feel exactly what he is trying to lead (basically mind reading through touch).

In the future, I’m sure we’ll be able to just think message to each other, not wasting our valuable time articulating sentences and messages. Think message will probably help us articulate our thoughts and feelings and take pressure off the actual message we are trying to send. On the other hand, it could freak us out that others can know what we are thinking; we’ll practice our best masquerade, stop exploring our real thoughts and feelings, and dedicate our lives to creating our “culturally appropriate” self, whatever that may be.

Sometimes when you just cannot understand or be understood by another, rather than repeating the same attempt over and over, try to implement different tactics within that line, or add more lines of communication. Eventually your partner has to get the hints. Right? Or you can invent think message – get that party started.

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