Connecting is the heart of partner dancing
Sure, you can dance without ever connecting with your partner, but that’s so lonely. Connection is the content of partner dancing; moves are just the form. Connecting is easy: just be friendly, greet your partner warmly. Here are some things to consider if you want to connect:
• You have to want to dance with that person. Not just want to dance. Wanting to dance with someone is personal: you want to dance with that particular person. If you dance out of politeness or obligation or “why not?” you won’t connect, unless you can turn that around into wanting to as you dance. Wanting to dance with this particular person you’re holding in your arms is the very first step in connecting.
• Dance with the person, not the role. The defined roles of lead & follow are a useful tool, but there’s no human warmth in a defined role. Reach through the roles to the person in your arms. Your partner’s a fellow human, not just a role.
• Leads have all the power, which is a problem. Partner dancing needs a lot of human warmth to overcome the power imbalance. The system is inherently unequal; if you leave it at that, you don’t connect. Treat your partner as a friend; that neutralizes the inequality because friends are equals. Then the unequal system’s just a game you’re playing with your friend; you don’t take it seriously.
• Your partner comes first. Partner is the first word in partner dance, the defining element. Dance with your partner and for your partner, not for your own enjoyment or to show off your skills. Your job as a partner is to make sure your partner has a great time. It doesn’t matter if you have a great time; just make sure your partner does. And never, ever “correct” your partner; instead, do everything you can to make the dancing work.
• Be kind. All those dance etiquette do’s & don’t’s can be replaced with those 2 words. You could replace not just dance etiquette but probably all the useful commandments & laws on the books, religious & otherwise, with “be kind.”
You can connect with your partner at any point as you learn to dance; connection doesn’t depend on skill. Here are some practical suggestions for connecting with your partner at beginning, intermediate, and advanced stages of partner dancing.
Dancing deep at Waltz etcetera
Some music’s just made for connecting: deep, slow, sensuous, full of feeling. I play deep, downtempo music at Waltz etcetera beginning at 9:30 pm on Mondays. Dancing deep’s all about connecting with your partner.