The form of partner dancing is everything you can learn in dance class, and by practicing, with or without a partner: moves, technique, skillful responses. The art part, you might say. The content is the connection between you & your partner; the human part. For dancing to be satisfying you need both, but never under any circumstances sacrifice content for form. Life is more important than art. Friendship is more important than dancing.
Partner dance is a language, and it takes a lot of learning to get good at communicating with a partner. Beginners have no vocabulary; they can’t say much; they’re lacking skillful means. The more you learn, the more interesting your dancing gets, more rich & varied. But language is useless in itself; it’s only useful if it’s communicating something, some content. The content of partner dancing, human connection, is the same for any dancer, from novice to master.
Connection is the juice, the real satisfaction you can get from partner dance. To get what partner dancing has to offer, you need to bring form & content into balance; an unmistakable sign of good balance is being more interested in your partner’s success in dancing than your own. Connected partner dancing glows with that kind of sweet generosity.
You may get a certain glow from being able to do a difficult move, or respond exquisitely to a lead, but it’s a very shallow glow; self-absorption has no depth, no heart. That shallow glow doesn’t satisfy the longing. We all long to touch and be touched, and for that to happen you have to open your heart a little and let your partner in, treat your partner as a friend. Dancing exquisitely with strangers leaves you empty & lonely. Connect with your partner; let life in.