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Partner Dancing - Making a Connection - 060104

If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. It's the hard that makes it great. ~ Tom Hanks

At Machol Miami, I had several conversations with women about partner dancing. My contention was that men should lead, and woman should follow. That it was more important that women follow well, than learn the choreography of a dance.

For the most part, the women disagreed with me, feeling that it was more important that they learn the dance, because most of the time they were dancing with men that did not know the dance.

This raises too many issues for today, and the problem of what to do if you are a woman, and the man is clueless, will have to wait for another time. Today we will concentrate on one thing, what partner dancing is all about.

At the camp, I danced a set with a woman who knew every partner dance perfectly. She knew them better than any other woman I danced with all weekend. She knew some of the dances better than me. Dancing with her was not enjoyable and I did not ask her to dance again. (Not that dancing with me is such a pleasure.)

The reason being, she danced every dance exactly the way she always dances them, and it made no difference whether I was there or not. I tried to vary the length of stride, distance of turn and other things, to see if I could get her to dance with me, but there was no budging her, and she resisted my every effort like a burly bouncer in a bar.

We were not partner dancing. We were two people dancing two patterns really close together. We might as well been circle dancing. This is not what partner dancing is about. Partner dancing is not a test to see how closely two people can dance coordinated patterns.

Partner dancing is all about the connection you make with your partner.

When I mentioned this to every woman that disagreed with me, they all then agreed with me, at least on this point. The connection is everything. The pattern is not important. The pattern serves only to facilitate the connection.

The beauty of partner dancing is every dance you do, the experience is different, because the connection you make with your partner is different. Partner dancing is all about the interaction between you and your partner, and the complex coordination you achieve through subtle communication, that is almost invisible to those watching.

The connection is made through the language of partner dancing. You and your partner can make up any language you like. I have a number of suggestions, taken from social partner dancing, that I think work well with Israeli dancing. These suggestions will appear in later articles.

For now, let me urge you, in partner dancing, to put the connection with your partner first, and everything else later.

By Andrew Weitzen 1/4/2006

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