General Dance Discussion > (Dance) Partners: for better or worse

Discussion in 'General Dance Discussion' started by elisedance, Sep 6, 2007.

  1. meow

    meow New Member

    I haven't met any dancers that go to Martial Arts but that being said, I don't know every dancer. I do know of some that go to palates, ballet and the gym. As for martial arts, I guess that could help with focus, concentration and balance but as for other stuff, I don't know.
  2. DWise1

    DWise1 Well-Known Member

    In the form of Aikido that I studied 30 years ago, the goal was to harmonize and blend with the energy ("ki" means life energy, mind, spirit; in Chinese it's known as "chi") of the attacker such that we become one moving about a single center, the defender's center, and thus we simply redirect the attacker's motion to wherever we want, all without the least bit of "muscling" or forcing. In order to do this, we maintained our center, stayed completely relaxed, kept our weight on the underside, and extended our Ki. All our movement and turning was through our center. Blending with the attacker's motion involved forming a connection and using that connection to move the attacker wherever we wanted -- we never threw our attacker, but rather "let him fall." And the techniques only worked if we used Ki; if at any point we were to try to muscle it, it just plain would not work at all.

    When Star Wars came out, their description of The Force sounded almost exactly like Ki. So when I started dancing, I would refer to my leading technique as "using the Force".

    In my very first dance class (an intermediate salsa group class), I drew on my few years of Aikido training from decades before, since that was the only thing I already knew that seemed to fit what the class was doing. In that very first class, I received repeated compliments from my partners on my strong and smooth lead. As a result of my Aikido training, I never went through that phase that all the other leaders have to go through, where they have to learn how to not muscle their way through the moves.
  3. Sorry - After what happened in class tonight I have to go back to one of the original topics in the thread:

    "What about developing your partnershp? How do you get that magical look where the couple seem to be expressing a life-relationship through dance?"

    Eye contact. Many instructors I have worked with say it's so intense that it's distracting, but I think there's really no substitute for eye contact.

    Tonight, for example, the manager came in to samba class to make announcements, so my instructor was poised to start the music again when she left. I was on the other side of the room, and since I can't help myself when I hear latin music, I was doing a quiet little cumbia to the music from the next room. Instructor sees me at the far end of the room and falls into step. After about a measure our eyes connect. He adds shimmy. I add shimmy. Eyes are locked. The rooms goes dead quiet, including the manager, while we share our moment. Which of course dissolves in laughter once his shimmy became so extreme that I would have hurt myself if I had attempted to match it.

    That, as he would say, is partnering. It was not quite so intense as Jean-Marc at Capitol in the judges' int'l rumba number (did anyone else see that!?!), but definitely heading more in that direction than not.
    ocean-daughter likes this.
  4. meow

    meow New Member

    It is called connection, physical and mental, and it takes time, hard work and liking each other to get to that point.:D
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  5. elisedance

    elisedance New Member

    iLiketoLeadwhenIdance wrote:

    "Eye contact. Many instructors I have worked with say it's so intense that it's distracting, but I think there's really no substitute for eye contact."

    You are obviously writing about Latin - and I can understand how important this must be. I was thinking about this in Standard though - where eye-contact is occasional but rare, indeed, we seem to do almost everything to avoid it. It does occur, however, in some tango moves where the couple stares at each other but otherwise no.

    the reason I was thinking about it is that we are preparing for a comp and are practicing the beginning and ending moves - and there there certainly is lots of opportunity. When you first come together how lovely it is to look straight into your partners eyes. Also when the dance is finished I think you should look at each other and show some warmth and appreciation - makes it look as if you really like to dance together.
  6. WorksForShoes

    WorksForShoes Member

    I think we give short shrift to the terms "student" and "amateur" because of the way they are typically used linguisticly. We say, "he's a student driver" or "oh, I'm just an amateur" to say that there are others with more experience or more dedication to practice than we have at that time. So we are using the words to mean "beginner" or in some cases "dilettante." The value of the words are further weakened by a culture-wide focus on money, where the ability to get paid for something (and therefore be "a professional") is taken as indicative of skill or proficiency.

    The ones I have the most respect for, though, are the ones who use the linguistic construction "I'm a student of...": "I'm a student of the arts." "I'm a student of philosophy," etc. To me, this connotes an understanding that the field in question (which is most of them, really) is too wide ranging to ever know completely, so life will be devoted to study. And one who studies is, by definition, a student. Its a pretty fine thing to be.
  7. FatBaldGuy60

    FatBaldGuy60 New Member

    For me, eye contact is disconcerting, especially for smooth dances, which travel. I am a "scanner"; my eyes are always moving around, looking for open space to move into, or people to move away from. [Even when not dancing, my eyes move look around a LOT. I see a lot of stuff that people around me, like my wife, do not even notice. At the same mind, my mind is analyzing what I see, and making inferences and deductions about why things are happening, etc. I am a bit strange, really.]

    At the same time, I am also thinking about what step to do next, holding my frame, how to lead properly, etc. Only 4 months in, it will take some time before that stuff becomes easier to do.

    Finally, my personality is such that prolonged, intimate eye contact is not really comfortable for me. My wife loves it, but she is wide open and very emotional, so it works for her.

    In slot dances, like rhythym and swing, I can give more eye contact because I can relax more due to the lower chance of collisions. However, I am still at the point where I need to run through my available steps in my mind and choose what to lead and lead it correctly.

  8. etp777

    etp777 Active Member

    I'm same, in that I don't make a lot of eye contact generally in life, fbg. Also with looking for places to go.

    But sometimes that eye contact, esp in latin dances, just clicks. Had that during lesson/test earlier this week. Didn't change anything that was technically happening, as was bieng tested on particular steps, so those steps still happened, but the connection was there, and suddenly it was all a lot more fun, and I think the technique was better. Like any connection in any aspect of your life, just made it better.
  9. meow

    meow New Member

    In latin dances, often you are not physically connected but you must be emotionally connected or it looks as if you are two soloists instead of a couple. So, eye contact is important but not always possible.
    With the ballroom dances, I agree with ED; most of these dances have head placements that don't allow eye contact. So, again, there must be an emotional connection. This connection is very hard to define but it is either there or not - in am comps you really need it there.
  10. Yes, of course, latin. Sorry. I've pretty much been focused on that (as a friend says, "rhythm is my home"). But I do agree that you can't necessarily maintain it all the time. At Independence Day Ball Camp, when Jean-Marc G. did his workshop on bringing sexy back," and Jennifer McCalla did hers on connection and directing energy in latin, they both emphasized that the eye contact/focus had far more impact when it was, shall we say, granted and denied.

    I have NO CLUE clue how to build connection for smooth during the dance itself, but I'd love to know. I still feel like I'm hanging on for dear life, although the examiner scored my smooth higher than my rhythm last week. Go figure. I guess hips alone are not enough . . .
  11. reb

    reb Active Member

    Regarding Smooth:
    Keep working at it (and be impatient)
    Being patient (some things take years to produce)

    Connection is a broad topic, but about eye contact specifically . . . you will find times in smooth when it is desirable for eye contact (not when closed of course, but when separated moving toward each other, and select places in tango . . .), although in my situation I have to be careful when close due to our height difference (to maintain posture/frame).
  12. elisedance

    elisedance New Member

    Amazing really, how two people can glide accross the floor in each other's arms doing the same (opposite) steps without parting company - and yet look like they have nothing to do with each other! If you ASKED someone to do that i am sure they could not pull it off - but some couples manage it anyway!

    That raises an interesting question: have married (read life) couples traditionally done better than nonmarried (incidental) couples? I wonder if anyone has ever tried to figure that out...
  13. meow

    meow New Member

    I don't know if or which, married or nonmarried couples do better or not. I don;t know if a study has ever been done. But, I have seen some amazingly awful arguements from married couples out on the practice floor. :oops::-( Far more from couples who are together in real life than not.
  14. elisedance

    elisedance New Member

    I suppose its hard to stop all the other things from spilling into the dance relationship. I also wonder how many dance partnerships resulted from a marriage versus the other way round - I woudl guess that for pros the partnership lead to the marriage and the same might be true for the top-flight ams but for most it was probably the other way round.

    I'm not even sure if we have any married partnerships here, which is woefully ignorant of me!
  15. I have also seen some seriously uncomfortable moments (for the rest of us) between real-life couples on the floor. It seems that perpetually one part of the couple is far better than the other, or far more committed, and thus perpetually frustrated. The other starts to feel inferior and question themselves. I've received pleas (sometimes from both parts of the couple) to skip work and come to the social dance to "save their marriage." Right now we're all suffering through a split between one of our more prominent social couples - he wanted to try other dance partners, but their relationship started through dance, so once you take that away . . .
  16. elisedance

    elisedance New Member

    Ouch. But surely even if it started through dance it must have more to it? Or is he using this as the proverbial 'first step...' of quite a different dance?

    Hmm. #51 I would say.... (now who is going to guess what I meant by that??)
  17. etp777

    etp777 Active Member

    I know several couples who were married first, then started dancing (just amateurs here, several don' even compete), and have asked them about this. In general, most of them seem to think that the dancing has helped their relationship (all the couples in question are middle aged, have grown kids, etc, and have come to dancing in just last couple years) a lot. Now that doesn't mean theyd on't still have fights that any married couple does, and that these fights might not happen on the dance floor. Suspect they're actually more likely to happen on the dance floor, as you're coming back to our discussion of an emotional connection on the floor, more passion,e tc, so if a couple was upset with each other over something at home, they come onto floor, are trying to get the right emotional connection, but have that trouble still in their head from before, suspect it's mroe likely to blow up on the dance floor than say on the ride over.

    On the opposite side, known a few couples who start dancing together, continued relationship off the floor (dating, marriage, whatever, varies by couple), and had the off the floor relationship blow up, with not unexpected results to their dancing relationship. Course, also know one pro couple who danced together, danced and dated, and now are just back to dancing, and still do well, are friendly with each other, no problems. Like anything else, varies by people involved.
  18. Laura

    Laura New Member

    I can think of several couples who got together through competitive partnerships, had a personal relationship for a while (including marriage), retired from dancing, and then split up because the only thing that really kept their marriage going was the partnership aspects of competitive dancing.

    So it works all ways, and like everything else depends upon the two people involved.
  19. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    i can imagine that scenario. have wondered what would happen for a great romance to lose such a critical & originating sharing point...
  20. elisedance

    elisedance New Member

    How many of these couples split up because one or other found a new partner - and a corollary, how may found new partners and carried on?

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