Ballroom Dance > How to handle partner search/change

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by open_mind, Sep 9, 2012.

  1. open_mind

    open_mind Member

    This is also about importance of equality in dance partnership.

    For whatever reason, and maybe because I tend to jump into dance partnerships too soon, all my three amateur competitive partnerships were with guys who were either much older, or much younger, came from different dance background, or were significantly better than me. It worked for me as I was growing in my dancing, but first two partnerships were short lived and it was obvious to all involved parties from the very beginning.

    I am still with partner #3 and we started very recently. He is in the "much older/much better" category. I am paying 100% of the lessons and am constantly reminded how much I need to advance to catch up to his level. I don't mind that, but questions like "why do I dance with him?" started to pop into my head more and more often. He is very respectful and encouraging, but I can't stop feeling that I am dancing with a teacher, not an equal partner. Besides, he has another practice partner and I never got a clear explanation why would he have two partners. We don't have any competition plans just yet...

    Well, someone else just approached me who is my age, just lost his partner, and is approximately my skill level. So, being myself, I am tempted to jump into that new partnership #4. It would be so new and interesting to be in an "equal" partnership, or so I think. I also think that maybe I can keep dancing with both of them for a while and see, just not sure how either of them would take it.... Needless to say, the whole situation also makes me feel a bit awkward.

    I know no one can decide for me, but any thoughts and/or suggestion on how to handle this are welcome.
  2. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    why are you paying 100% of the lessons?...I think that sets up a very bad dynamic...he has nothing to learn?...he recieves no benefit?...I can see you paying more if you have it and you need more of the the instruction...but all of it? NO..I mean, if you want to be respected you have to set up a dynamic that supports that...were you thinking that footing the entire bill would level the power dynamic and encourage respect? I have found that you can't buy can get temporarily used for that ...but that's about it...and yes, I would also be getting clarity on precisely what his other partnership is about...absent that, I wouldn't feel inclined to explain my own practicing with someone else...however, I find the fact that that sort of ambiguity even exists in the first place puts a magnifying glass to a huge communication problem...I think that if you can't be direct and candid, then you are going to have problems with having a healthy relationship with almost anyone...I think it is time for a talk
  3. Terpsichorean Clod

    Terpsichorean Clod Well-Known Member

    :shrug: I've on both sides of that:
    -paying for 100% of the lessons (awhile ago, but on a relatively long term basis)
    -paying for 0% of the lessons

    There are situations where I could see a case for it. :)
  4. I will not either on the giving on receiving end of paying 100% for lesson.

    I don't think it is about the money it is about the equality of the partnership.

    I also won't split other than 50/50 based on skills who is it to judge who is better than who by what percentages ?

    I will however help out in a partnership if the other partner has financial difficulties and may be in need of a short or longer term assistance only and if only he has tried to contribute to the Maximum that he can.

    I mean by this not playing poor and ask me to pay more for lesson but then keep on buying Armani shirts or eating out in $100/head restaurants.

    I am also more inclined to help if I am NOT asked/required/expected to do so by the other person.
  5. 3wishes

    3wishes Well-Known Member

    uhhhhhh I'm in there with Fas WHY? are you paying 100% of the lesson cost?
    I believe you already know what you want to do, re-read your post.
    I would love to dance with someone closer to my "age" and ability and grow together as a partnership creating that bond of learning and practice, if the situation you described applied to me - AND have the other partner pay 50% of all costs that apply to lessons, coaching, entries.
    So, the evil side of me comes out, has "new almost-partner" learned that your paying 100% for your current advanced partner, previous to his approaching you? just sayin' and being cynical here.
    Good luck.
  6. dbk

    dbk Well-Known Member

    You paying 100% of the lessons, and being nagged about getting up to his level faster?

    Here's an easy solution: take the lessons on your own, dancing with a pro. Your am partner is not necessary in the equation if the lesson is all about you.
    debmc likes this.
  7. euchoreo

    euchoreo Member

    Having a partner that is significantly better than you can be a rare boon not to be easily tossed aside if he:
    - actually competes with you as his partner
    - is helping you improve faster than you would with a partner of the same level
    - is respectful towards you, which it sounds like he is.

    How did you wind up paying for all your lessons together? Are you in a much better financial situation than him? Can't he pay even $5 or $10 of each lesson?

    I've paid for all of the lessons with a previous brief partnership. I suspect it contributed to my partner's eroding respect for me. For a variety of reasons, she eventually secretly picked up another partner and dumped me after I found out.

    If I were presented with that kind of situation again, I would not pay for all the lessons, but I would be willing to pay 90% of the cost if the higher-skilled partner met the 3 conditions I mentioned above
  8. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    Feel free to project your own issues, but if you actually read the original post, you'll note that it doesn't really say anything about being nagged to get up to his level faster, only being reminded that there is a level difference. It also says that the guy is respectful and encouraging, which I wouldn't characterize as "nagging."
  9. Bailamosdance

    Bailamosdance Well-Known Member

    How would removing the partner from the education process improve the results? And, how is the economics of the situation detrimental to the results?
  10. dbk

    dbk Well-Known Member

    Well, considering I just saw someone do exactly this over the summer... I know it works. If you're looking to get someone trained up faster, it will happen faster if they dance with the pro for a while, then return to the partnership. If there's so much of a difference that she's being constantly reminded, and is paying for all the lessons* this might be more effective.

    *This doesn't make any sense to me unless they've decided the lessons are going 100% to help her, so she's paying for 100%.
  11. The question is why don't do Pro-Am instead ?
    TinyDancer109 and debmc like this.
  12. dbk

    dbk Well-Known Member

    I've been dancing with the same partner for seven years, and we started together - I'm not projecting. Even if I was - "you're projecting" is not a get-out-of-argument-free card.

    Whether she's actually being nagged, or just "am constantly reminded how much I need to advance to catch up to his level" (whatever the differences is) STILL DOES NOT CHANGE whether my suggestion will work.
  13. nucat78

    nucat78 Active Member

    I agree that it's time to have a frank discussion with your CP about expectations, etc.

    Personally, I'd much prefer dancing with somebody my own age, approx. skill level, and with the same goals, but I'd still talk with CP before making any decisions.
  14. Why doesn't he find someone his own level ? If the answer is there is no one around well ...

    I do this at one time just train with a partner who never dance before. But it was either that or not dancing. So I didn't whinge and pay my 50 % share every week.

    It is not his fault and was my best option at that time.

    I am sure if he has better option he would take it unless he doesn't have money and no one else are willing to be footing the bill like you do.
  15. dbk

    dbk Well-Known Member

    I think we've been skipping over this part :rolleyes:

    If your personality meshes well with partner #4, you should definitely try to make it work. Since you have no competition plans with #3, and he has another partnership, there's no reason you can't practice with both of them. Definitely have a talk with #4 about goals and expectations first, though!
  16. danceronice

    danceronice Well-Known Member

    As long as you're above-board and EVERYONE knows what's going on (ie, no sneaking around to dance with #4 behind #3's back), why not try both for a while and see which you prefer and how it works out?

    I would absolutely hash out finances first, though, and no WAY should you pay 100% for someone who's no better than you. I don't have a problem "buying" a high-level partner (it's done so often in skating there are jokes about 'rent-a-Russian', it's just what you have to do when there aren't enough good male partners to go around) but if you're not competing and you're not necessarily enjoying it or getting what you feel is your money's worth, and you have a better offer, there's no reason to not at least entertain the notion.
  17. latingal

    latingal Well-Known Member

    In my opinion, how you value yourself in a partnership is going to effect the way you dance in it. However, depending on how big the skill level gap is, "equality" may be more based on respect and how each of you treats the other, than contribution to the partnership in the dancing (both technically and quality wise).

    You will always be equal in the partnership as an individual of value. And the behaviors of both partners should mirror that. Above that, it may be helpful to think of ways that you can contribute and add value to the partnership so you might view your role in a more positive light.

    Having been in skill gapped partnerships, it is tricky. BOTH partners must be sensitive to over stepping their roles and their knowledge.

    As for paying 100%, I have also dealt with this situation. If you are receiving 100% of the attention and the majority of the benefit in the lessons, then I would say this can work. Also, if your partner would not deem it worth it to continue the partnership if asked to pay for lessons, then again, it is your decision as to what the partnership brings to you and if it is worth it for you.

    And, who reminds you that you need to advance to his level? I find that the most damaging source of that type of criticism is from myself, not outside sources. It may be a fact that I am trying to "catch up" to my partners level (something faced all the time in pro-am), but ruminating on that anywhere past just acknowledging it and coming up with a plan of attack is harmful to the dance psyche.

    Depending on the skill level and attitude of the partners, that indeed could be the dynamics of the partnership. As another poster mentioned, there can be great advancement to be had dancing with a more experienced and skilled partner. But if it is very important to you to be an "equal" partner in your dance experience, then considering moving on might be a valid endeavor.

    Have you considered how the partnership would function differently? One thing about "equal" partnerships - I have in my own experience found that they tend to be more likely to spend time trying to figure out things (which could be on the more argumentative side as well as wondering off on the wrong path) as compared to a partnership where one has the skill to answer issues straight out.

    I would discuss it with both. If your more advanced partner already has another partnership, you would hope he wouldn't mind you having a second partnership either.

    Mostly it's going to come down to what type of experience you want to have in your of luck to you!
  18. JudeMorrigan

    JudeMorrigan Well-Known Member

    Yeah, since she says her partner has been respectful and encouraging, I assume the reminders are largely coming from herself. Those can be tough to deal with.
  19. llamasarefuzzy

    llamasarefuzzy Well-Known Member

    I was on the advanced side of an uneven partnership for several years.
    Although I was technically a better dancer than he, the power dynamic was never an issue. Why? Because I genuinely wanted to dance with him. We got along really well, had similar goals and work ethics. Sometimes these things are more important than dancing abilities. However, making this work required sensitivity from both partners to keep things running smoothly.
    It can work- but only with good communication (not dissimilar from any other partnership!)
  20. dbk

    dbk Well-Known Member

    This is excellent advice. I've seen a few partnerships go downhill not because of the skill difference (which incidentally wasn't actually that big) but because of the way it was handled. If one person takes on the role of "the better partner" or "teacher," it can stifle the partnership.

    I've seen it create resentment hard feelings between partners, the "teacher" feeling burdened and the "student" feeling pushed around and their own knowledge devalued. I've also seen it hold back the so-called "better dancer" who took on the teacher role, because they spent practices generally assuming they were doing everything right.

    I don't know if this is the case in OP's experience, or if it would eventually lead there, but food for thought. (And of course, this is different when you're seeking a student/teacher dynamic instead of an equal partnership!)

Share This Page