Dear significant dance partner,
I may have come to an important realization.
You asked whether I thought I would go to another encuentro after my first experience where I felt that I had not experienced what I considered a sufficient number of sufficiently satisfying tandas.
As I was doing my garbage cart walk from the house to the street this morning I flashed on the realization that, while my desire is to have amazing, even when rarely “perfect” dance experiences; my two goals are to look nice (as a point of personal pride, accomplishment, and for recognition) and for my partners–whether leader or follower–to feel that they have amazing dance experiences with me.
Goals and projects for their attainment
While I have good intentions for my various improvement goals:
If I compete (a current project) it
o Helps provide structure, context, and motivation for my practice and learning;
o Gives me a yardstick for measuring progress; and
o Gives me arms-length, high level feedback;
I had (have) a selfish, even if worthwhile motive. The “valid, up to a point” thought is that the more I improve my dance the more others will see it, and that will get me more dances with equally accomplished dancers.
Without denying the importance of my technical performance goal, what if I raised the importance of my dance partner connection goal? What if I even used that as a key component of my technical work?
Connection: value and development
When I watch a dance performance of any kind (social, YouTube, stage), while the flash and technical quality first catch my eye, what makes a deeper, longer lasting impression is my sense of the connection of the partners to each other and to the music.
And for getting more partners, what’s likely to give the bigger payoff, onlookers maybe seeing how fancy you dance on a floor packed with other dancers, or having dance partners tell their friends how they feel when dancing (and socializing!) with you? I think we all know, word of mouth beats advertising.
Plus, that intention to give a partner an amazing dance experience works equally well in all cases, whether leader or follower, beginner to pro.
What goes into an amazing dance experience? Certainly the technical aspects play a big part in that: the ability to control one’s axis/balance in all situations, as well as to be aware of and protect our partner’s axis/balance; the ability to accurately, clearly, and comfortably give and respond to movement intentions; the ability to navigate a floor safely, protecting our partner and others (and even eyes-closed followers can help this with their sense of space, safe movements, and accurately responding to a partner’s intention).
Beyond the technical attainments, what goes into a great experience of connection to a partner (and to the music)? Experience, of course. We’ve got to have lots of experience with a variety of partners (and music) where we come to feel deeply and consider our response to each other.
I reject the macho advice I so often received from mostly my early teachers who told me that to make my best, fastest progress I should seek to dance only with already good partners; that beginner or weak partners would bring me down. While I recognize the element of truth in that–particularly at that stage of my development, I also see it as one of those “training wheels” that need to come off. (J, reviewing this for me, adds that dancing with beginners and improvers is our way to give back to the community that has meant and done so much for us.)
So I shall seek to embrace and make better use of all kinds of dance opportunities, including the encuentro, where one can find a lovely variety of dancers all with the intentions to create deep and satisfying dance connections with others.
Now here I am burdening your schedule with a welter of words, taking up time with my self-analysis session. I hope you will grant me leeway and not plot some retribution for me. 🙂
Thank you for helping me become a better dancer through our practice and your feedback and ideas. And a better person.
Un gran abrazo con meneo,