As a professional dancer, I've often been asked how I am able to look so graceful with my partner on the dance floor.
"How do you look so effortless as you dance?"
"What's the secret to dancing with a partner?"
"Do you ever mess up a step?"
"My partner and I could never look like you."
As a ballroom instructor, I have had the opportunity to work with all kinds of different people: other professionals and instructors, children, seniors, teens, singles, married couples, and individuals with special needs...I have loved working with every single student
But there is one kind of student I will never be able to teach....the student who always blames his or her partner.
During my years teaching, I have had an unfortunately high number of disgruntled couples who have come to me to learn how to dance. Most of them have had one thing in common...one partner will explain that he or she knows how to dance, but tells me I need to teach his or her partner how to keep up. At this point in the conversation I am always tempted to say, "Let me save you the time and the money right now and send you home because I won't be able to teach you anything."
This may seem harsh and unprofessional of me to say, but let me first explain my reasoning behind it. Ballroom dancing is an intimate partnership. Ballroom dancing requires a level of trust, understanding, and mutual respect that takes time and work to develop. If both partners are not willing to accept their role in the partnership and work to support and encourage one another they will never truly learn to dance together.
If you've ever closely watched a long-time ballroom couple dance you will notice something subtle, yet incredible. The partners respond to one another's slightest movement. A twist of the hips, a tilt of the head, a gentle pressing of the hand is all that's needed for them to know exactly what to do next.
There is only one way to reach that level of understanding with another person. You have to always be working towards a common goal. It becomes not what I can get from my partner, but how can I help my partner.
What can I do to be more sensitive to his or her touch?
How can I lead more effectively?
How can I follow more easily?
And always...how can I be more in sync with my partner?
When a couple is able to find that common goal together, and after years of dedicated practice, something amazing begins to happen....instead of two individuals dancing, they start to blend together. It becomes difficult to tell where one person ends and the other begins. They have become so in tune with one another that they have become a single flowing, ethereal masterpiece of movement.
Everyone loves the idea of finding that special person, and developing that depth of relationship and intimacy, but how do we capture such an elusive idea in the mundane routines of daily life?