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Partner up…or the dance of finding someone to dance with (Part 1 of 2)

July 6, 2009

I recently had the good fortune to team up with a new competitive dance partner.  After months of wondering whether the right person would come along, I’m happy to say my search efforts have proven fruitful.  In addition to the underlying excitement of having someone to work with comes the many hours of dedication to perfecting our art.

Finding a good partner is somewhat akin to dating plus a business partnership.  In a short period of time you are evaluating whether to commit to spending time and money towards a common goal, whether you communicate well and are comfortable around each other physically.  Before you start searching, consider the following.  Knowing what you want personally gives you the groundwork to know what to look for and to have conversations with potential partners.  If you aren’t headed in the same direction or at least in alignment, one or both partner will get disillusioned pretty quickly.

Goals

First and foremost, what are you goals?    Figure out some of the following:

  1. Do you want to compete or just practice for personal mastery?
  2. What style/s of dance?  Are you willing to learn new styles?
  3. If you want to compete, how far do you want to go? (Local, national, international?)
  4. Are you interested in performances and showcases?
  5. Do you want to turn professional and/or teach?

Commitment

Then, what is your level of commitment to reach those goals?  Once you know where you are headed, decide what you are willing to do to get there.

  1. How much time are you willing to spending practicing?
  2. How many times a week and for how many hours?
  3. How much are you will to spend on lessons, competitions?
  4. Are you will to overcome distance, scheduling differences?

Relationships

This is a sticky subject for many people, but especially important to be clear about right from the beginning.  Dancing is an intimate art and one where it is easy for people to misinterpret actions and emotions.  It is best to be upfront and extremely clear about expectations.

  1. Are you open to dating your partner or explicitly opposed to getting into a romantic relationship?  Is this open to change in the future?
  2. Are one or both people already in committed relationships?
  3. How does your partner/spouse feel about you dancing with another person?  How does their partner/spouse feel about he/she dancing with you?
  4. What will you do if one person wants to pursue something more and the other person doesn’t?

Once you are clear about your goals, commitment and relationship expectations, it is time to start looking.  The best place to start is at a local studio, with you team/club (if you are in school) or with an instructor.  Word of mouth tends to rule in dance and is an excellent way to find out about potential partners with the added bonus of personal recommendations about your future compatibility.  Other options include websites like dancepartner.com and ballroomdancers.com.  Going to competitions and distributing flyers are yet more ways to get the word out that you are looking for a partner.  In the latter options it is common to include photos of you dancing.  As always, when putting out information in public, be cautious to safeguard your privacy and personal details.

Part 2 will discuss tryouts and steps for a successful partnership.

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