Dance Your Way to the Theology of the Body

If I have a good male lead when dancing, I can close my eyes and follow him without missing a beat. I did this with several different dance partners the Saturday night of the St. Patrick's Day dance. I haven't been dancing very much in years so I'm rusty. Besides, I'm not the kind who counts the steps (I don't do numbers), I just do it intuitively. With a strong lead.

The number one complaint that men have about dancing is that women don't know how to follow when they try to lead. And women have no idea how to follow a man anymore because they are used to competing with men in the workplace … if they aren't in charge of the whole shebang.

Women have no idea how to follow a man on the dance floor or off of it.

When you go to a couples dance class, invariably the female instructor will say, "This is your chance to lead gentlemen. Tomorrow you'll be following her again!"

Can you close your eyes and "allow" your husband to lead? The way he leads? Juliana Slattery in Finding the Hero in Your Husband goes into detail about this process.  

Personally I find ballroom dance is the perfect metaphor for Theology of the Body principles.

If you want to know about the ultimate in partnering, learn to dance the tango. In this dance particularly, the woman has to trust her partner so she can relax into his lead. She has to be able to trust that he will lead her and not dance them into the sound system speakers or the table with the punch bowl. The man has to lead, not be passive or limp, or it just won't work.

 The man walks across the dance floor and extends his hand to the woman in invitation to dance. She can accept his gift or not. She puts her hands firmly on his shoulder so she can use her hands to push him back if he pulls her too close. There is a tension in their arms which is called giving weight which helps a man to lead. If arms are limp, then the man can't lead. In the Rumba, there is something called the chase. The man walks away from the woman and she follows after him. When they are close, she pushes him away and dances in the other direction. Naturally, he chases.

Does this sound familiar?

Go tell your honey you want to follow him with your eyes closed. Show him (not tell him) that you want him to lead. Make him feel like a man — because they are endowed by the Creator to lead — and see what happens!

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  • Guest April 3, 2007, 12:35 am

    But why does it have to be the man who leads ?  As long as somebody's leading, the dance can go on ….

    Besides, I'd never close my eyes when dancing….I'm so klutzy I'd end up stomping on his toes ! Embarassed

  • Guest April 3, 2007, 2:31 am

    God loves you .

    My late wife, a strong Bible student and even stronger Catholic, observed that God made the man to lead so he forms the guiding and protecting front in advance of his clan.

    And, when he has made the wrong advance, firstly, though we say it not aloud, we know who is to blame. Secondly, guess who is responsible for any clean-up and clear-up and correction? Finally, who is it that is now rear-guard?

    And, Sharon never complained when I got her toes under my size-13 hoof. She was just so pleased that she had one husband who danced – or, at least, attempt to dance – as often as she wanted. And, I would bow to her curtsy every time we entered the dance floor.

    There were a number of others who expressed, in their ways, how they loved how we loved. Sharon made living with her wondrous. And, oh, how she made a frog into a prince . . .

    Remember, I love you, too

    Through Christ, with Christ, in Christ,

    Pristinus Sapienter

    (wljewell or …

  • Guest April 3, 2007, 7:06 am

    In response to Narwen's question, "Why does it it have to be the man who leads?" I suggest reading Ephesians 5. To paraphrase St. Paul, "The wife should submit to her husband as to the Lord. The husband should love his wife as Christ loves the church…husbands love your wives and wives respect your husbands." If Narwen's question is rephrased this way, "Why does it have to be Christ who leads the church? As long as somebody's leading, … " I think the answer is obvious.

  • Guest April 3, 2007, 7:35 am

    I like Sharon and I never met her…..perhaps when we meet in heaven.  She sounds like what I believe to be true.  Let the man lead and get out of the way…..

  • Guest April 3, 2007, 8:15 am

    Please pray for me.  I have spent the last 28 years with a man who does not know now to lead.  Oh, he leads, but not as Christ leads the church, according to my opinion.   Finally stepping back into my Catholic faith 5 years ago I realized my dilema.  How my heart aches to be that wife who can and should trust in her husband.  I put off trusting in God by looking at the human man I chose as my husband.  With the help of prayer and a good parish priest I have understood my role as it should be and the graces and peace I can have.  I am still learning how to submit and let God take control.  The prayer I need from my friends in Christ is to soften my husband's heart.  He is not a Catholic and vehemently opposed to it.  Which in turn makes our marriage very difficult, I must submit to God and the Church in some ways and at this point my husband cannot see that.  I am tired, and don't want to be in control anymore.  God was correct in giving us positions and the roles we are supposed to have.  Living that way can be hard, but I so long for that kind of love.

    By the way, I love to dance.  I just need to get my husband to dance with me.


  • Guest April 3, 2007, 8:55 am

    I enjoyed the article very much! Like another person who responded, I also have a husband who does not want to lead. We are both Catholic and it is a struggle to "let go and let God" teach my husband to lead and for me to get out of the way. Sometimes more than my toes are stepped on and I'm sure my husband would say I sometimes keep my arms too rigid.

  • Guest April 3, 2007, 11:01 am

    You know, when I started ballroom dancing (it's how my husband and I met) we didn't start with the Argentine tango … we started with the basic box step. If you ladies are having trouble with a "lead," perhaps you need to start with some basics. Meeting your husband at the door with a smile and something fragrant in the oven. Help him remember the girl he dated … maybe he'd remember the man YOU dated. Flirt with him a little bit. I know, I know, it sounds a little archaic. And yes, that marriage license entitles you to more than flirt. But sometimes a little "review" is in order to keep those home fires burning bright! Thanks, Virginia. I think you're right on…

    Heidi Hess Saxton Editor, "Canticle" Magazine

  • Guest April 3, 2007, 12:45 pm

    I need to learn how to dance, or at least dance better.  (Dance Dance Revolution doesn't count).  Embarassed

  • Guest April 3, 2007, 1:06 pm

    God loves you .

    Dear Patricia Cornell, others of like empathy,

    Oh, but you see, Sharon led in her own way by ‘getting in the way’ – in the way of the dance, to want to dance, to want to dance with ME. (To want, to choose from the greatest love I have ever known, to want to do it all with ME.) And, thus, too, did I have to lead, eh?

    I was the luckiest man on earth. Praise God for permitting me to see that great blessing in Sharon before I lost her. I more than once told her ‘you are my every next breath, my every next heartbeat’. Yet, before and in her young death – she, 38, I 36, our beloved daughter Helena but 10 – Sharon led me to God’s very feet. Then, she gently got out of the way to go Home and let God get me Home.

    It is almost as if He cut into our ‘dance’ to permit her to rest in eternal grace, and me to dance with the Real Pro.

    Praise God from Whom all blessings flow – and, for me, one of the very greatest blessings was a lady named Sharon.

    And, yes, do make it Home to meet her – her confessor and I just know that our beloved Savior and most loving Mother Mary were just waiting for Sharon. And, waiting with them now for me, to be with Sharon again compels all the graces of sanctity I can pray from our Father.

    Remember, I love you, too

    Through Christ, with Christ, in Christ,

    Pristinus Sapienter

    (wljewell or …

  • Guest April 3, 2007, 3:20 pm

    God led the Israelites out of chains in Egypt and allowed them to wander in the desert for forty years. Why? One reason was that the Hebrews needed to shed themselves of the attitudes of having slavery ground into them for four hundred years. As a matter of fact, the entire population of Hebrews that left Egypt for the promised land only two of the adult population (twenty and older) actually were permitted to enter the promised land. The rest were unworthy(including Moses)—probably because of their inability to rid themselves of their slave mentality.  

    Women, likewise, have been slaves since the original sin of Eve and the curse of fallen man that accompanied it, “…and he shall be your master!(Gen 2:16)” When Christ set things right by His death and resurrection this curse should have been lifted. It may take another two millennium before the majority of women rid themselves of their own slave mentality. Cry

  • Guest April 3, 2007, 3:22 pm

    Z, have you read "Love and Responsibility" or the Theology of the Body?

  • Guest April 3, 2007, 4:44 pm

    Not specifically the interpretation that you mention but I have digested Christopher West's "Love, Sex and Marriage" and of course the original english interpretation of JPII series on the Theology of the Body itself. I loved it. It in no way advocates that women need remain in chains. The perfect dance is Rock 'n Roll where you dance as equals, no lead required. Cool

  • Guest April 3, 2007, 5:51 pm

    If you prefer rock'n'roll dancing, I won't argue with you.  (I happen to like swing dancing and tango best.)  But I don't understand why you think there is something inherently slave-like about ballroom dancing, or about a wife allowing her husband to lay down his life for her as Christ did for the Church.  Could you explain your point of view?

  • Guest April 3, 2007, 7:32 pm

    I am only a slave to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  As an older, and hopefully, wiser woman, I must say,Z, that I do not consider myself a slave either.  I am quite content to be the woman that God created me to be.  I don't feel the need to be a 'man' in today's world.  I personally believe that many of todays problems could be solved if men would be men and women, women, as we were created.Smile

  • Guest April 3, 2007, 10:59 pm

    Leadership is a gift from God. And God distributes this gift freely among all men inclusively. Likewise, the gift of nurturing is also from God and many men–in the Catholic teaching sense that there are only men with two genders–have been blessed with this gift. So who is to say who should be exclusively chained to any particular role simply because of an anomaly of genetics. It is a prenatal embryonic developmental fact that all men begin in the womb as the feminine gender. If you are content to remain in a nurturing role then may God continue to bless you. But be very careful not to "gendertype" roles based strictly on a genetic gender anomaly. The notion of being “complimentary” is a matching of maleness to femaleness regardless of dominant roles that God chooses to gift us with. Many males will never be “real men”, (whatever you wish to conceive that notion to be) and likewise, many females will never be the “real women” that you have been programmed and indoctrinated to be. It’s a “slave” mentality that will be very difficult to overcome.

  • Guest April 5, 2007, 9:15 am

    I've taken ballroom dance classes, and I have often thought that it would make good couples therapy. 


    The man has to know how to do the steps, how to lead correctly (if he doesn't do it right, she won't know what steps he wants to do next), and be confident enough to do it. 


    The woman has to know how to do all the steps, too, and she has to know how to make it easier for the man to lead (she has to keep her upper body rigid, and provide some resistance else he won't be able to lead).  She has to be willing to let him lead, as well as trust him to do it right.


    To make the dance look beautiful and effortless ( and everyone else jealous that you can do it so well), both parties have to know what they're doing.  Both parties have to agree on what needs to be done to accomplish that goal, and then each party must do their part fully.  Both parties commumicate the entire time, but though body contact instead of voice. 


    If you think about it, its all the same skills that make a good marriage:  communication, trust, shared goals, working together, sharing work and responsibility.


    About other comments:


    I think that a lot of women in this country still have an ex-slave mentality.  We were oppressed unfairly for so long that all we really want is to be completely in charge.  But really, now, is it all that bad to chose to let the man lead? 


    Men all know that women can open doors for ourselves, lead the dance, run the company, lift hevy objects, etc.  We are very capable,and men all know this. 


    It takes greater strength to allow someone to do something for you.  Men seem to need to feel needed.  It is not a betrayal of womankind to back off sometimes.  It helps everyone to get along.  Men let women lead sometimes and women let men lead sometimes, depending on who is more capable for the task at hand. (I'm speaking of life in general here, not ballroom.  Ballroom is ritualized, so the man has to lead, else its not ballroom dancing.)


    Anyway, that's my two cents.

  • Guest April 6, 2007, 9:57 pm

    Is it any less a tango if the woman does the leading steps and the man the following ones ?

  • Lee February 11, 2014, 1:47 pm

    This fun article. I have done swing dance teaching in the past. It’s incredible to watch people learn to dance for the first time. You can tell the strong leaders right away by their confidence, even if they have never danced before. Also, when you dance with a follow that has their own ideas, it makes the dance disjointed and awkward. Sometimes, you can even get an elbow to the lip. Thanks for sharing, and keep dancing.