The Importance of dancing with beginners
**Author Unknown - If you know who wrote this, let me know and I will aknowledge them.**
Editorial - The Importance of dancing with Beginners 

(Author unknown)
While there is no question that dancing with a better partner will make you *look* good, and that with such a partner you can concentrate more on styling details and so on because the lead and follow doesn't need so much attention, it is not the best way to practice lead/follow skills. If learning leaders only dance with accomplished followers and vice-versa, they won't develop great leading/following skills, because they won't *need* to. Now let's suppose that YOU are a great leader or follower. What happens if you dance only with other great dancers? Your lead and follow skills will gradually *deteriorate* -- because you're not working them very hard. After some months without exposure to beginners, you may be surprised to find that you can't dance with them very well, even though they seem to do okay with other beginners.
You learn how to dance better by dancing with more experienced partners. But you learn how to lead/follow better by dancing with less experienced partners. Your skills are put much more to the test dancing with a beginner than with an experienced dancer. It is easy to lead/follow a great dancer. All your weaknesses as a leader/follower show up with beginners. Dance with them and ask yourself why each incorrectly led/followed figure didn't work and when you figure it out, work on incorporating the fixes into all your dancing!
You cannot become a good dancer by dancing only with the same person. Dancing only with each other, you will become good at dancing with each other with all the mistakes and bad habits that become "correct" for you.
There is a certain type of character (leader) that one encounters again and again if one has been dancing for any length of time: the guy who only wants to dance with the best followers because he believes they are the only partners who can match his high skill level. Often what is REALLY going on is that only the best followers can compensate for his mistakes or idiosyncrasies. They make him look good. But the guy continues to think he's the tops because he insulates himself from feedback. *Dancing with poor to average followers is a good reality check.* If none but the best can follow your leads, I respectfully suggest your leads could use some work. (Kelly Buckwalter has expressed a similar idea in her classes). Also, that kind of thinking ultimately harms their dancing. I've seen guys overestimate their ability and abandon the study of technique FAR too soon. Consequently it will take them a lot longer to reach the next level of skill. 
Of course there is a female counterpart. She is the one who had reached a level of dance where she is of the opinion that, "If he can lead it, I can follow it." She only wants to dance with the top leaders. A good leader can jam her through most patterns, although she finds herself on the wrong foot and off balance coming out of the more intricate patterns. This is because she has not taken enough lessons to recognize what she needs to do to handle patterns correctly, and she too has abandoned the study of technique FAR too soon. This follower wonders why every time she enters a Jack 'N' Jill in her own division, she always draws/rotates to a poor leader. What has actually happened is that the better leaders have compensated for her lack of proper technique so she has never really learned how to follow. Granted, there are a few followers who can indeed follow most of what they encounter on the dance floor, but they are few and far between. I dare say that not even all the Champion level followers can meet this standard.
In order not to stagnate or even regress in our dance ability, we need to continuously educate ourselves by taking lessons and workshops not only to elevate our abilities, but to reinforce our current understanding of dance and make sure we don't forget what we have already learned. 

*Side Note - The West Coast Swing Council adopted a "Points System" to address this problem in competitions. In years past, you would see novice followers entering an upper level Jack 'N' Jill in hopes of drawing a "Top" leader. Of course, you would have novice leaders entering upper level Jack 'N' Jill's in order to draw a "Top" follower. The result was that the Intermediate and advanced Jack 'N' Jilts were diluted with "Lesser" dancers, and the top Pro's stopped competing in them. This dilution of the Advanced level competitions was the driving force behind the creation of the "Invitational" Jack 'N' Jill. This way the event directors could guarantee a desired level of competitors in their competitions. Later on the "Points System" you are familiar with was introduced.
 * DO NOT confuse the Invitational Jack 'N' Jill with the Champions level. In the Champions level competition, those people earned the right to compete at that level with accomplishments in their dancing (I.E., Winning). In an Invitational competition, those competitors are "Invited," regardless of their level of dancing. Granted, the purpose of the Invitational was to elevate the level of dancers in the competition, but not all dancers invited, are always "Champions."
Lastly, in particular for leaders, when you dance with a beginner, and you find she can't follow all your favorite moves, one of two things are happening ... you are either not the leader you thought you were, or her skill ability is not high enough to handle the patterns you are throwing at her. In either case, you need to "Back Off" and dance to her skill level. In the case of advanced followers you need to be patient and try not to "Assist" the beginning leaders by back leading. These guys need to understand the concept of leading. If the lead stops, you stop. If the lead is imprecise, follow the lead. If he asks "What are you doing" ... you respond; "Following your lead."

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