For me, it is magical when a leader doesn’t use his arms.
Of course, this is silly—a leader always uses his arms somewhat, if for nothing else than warmly embracing his partner. I highly approve of this. But you all know what I mean when I talk about leaders who dance with their arms: the leaders who steer, who grip, who crush, who can’t seem to get a follower to do anything without guiding her there with their arms. When a leader dances without doing these things, it creates magic.
I dance regularly with a couple of leaders who are magical in this way. They have an incredibly strong torso presence. While dancing with them, I feel myself focus entirely on my sternum. (This also leads me to be strong in return–finding that one point of contact and strengthening the rest of my core to support it, to focus my internal eye on that spot.) It is so hard to describe that feeling, but it is intense.
These leaders can remove their arms and still guide me flawlessly. Their lead is incredibly clear. Their arms become support—a hug, an expression, a tiny guide. I found that I can do the same with them if I really focus on moving my arms from my lats and letting the rest of my arm relax in a hug. I feel their musical ear transmitted to me through that one, core point of connection, and suddenly it is all about moving together musically.
It is funny, because these two leaders think that they have very different style. And they do, in a way. They dance very differently. But at the core, they are so much the same. That presence is amazing. When I go from a tanda with one of them to a tanda with anyone else, I feel the loss. It is one of the very best things that I can find in a leader. It is, for me, the source of a real connection.