We’re going to step off our normal focus of looking at dance purely from a financial perspective today and talk about an important, though admittedly tangentially-related topic: how to get a partner. This is a topic we’ve touched on before, but I hope to bring some new ideas to the table tonight.
The motivation to write about this came from several conversations I’ve had lately. A number of dancers I’ve talked to lately – from my studio, at social dances, at competitions – have been lamenting their lack of a partner. There are many advantages to having a partner and these dancers (mostly women but some men) are keenly aware of them. A partner is someone to practice with between lessons in order to better retain the information, to split lessons with and thus share the cost, to attend events with and guarantee a good quantity and quality of dancing, to commiserate with when dance gets frustrating, and who can encourage you when dancing doesn’t go as planned. I sympathize. Dancing is often more fun, and improvement can come much quicker with a partner than without.
That said, one must be careful about how one thinks about such things. ”I could be great if only I had a partner,” is not a particularly helpful sentiment, nor is it an attractive one to potential partners. It sounds like an excuse.
As I said in the previous partnership post (link again), there are many considerations when evaluating a potential partnership, but one I didn’t specifically mention (though I should have) is passion. Most of us want to dance with someone who wants to dance just as much as we do. I don’t want to dance with someone likes to dance; I want to dance with someone who needs to dance. Now during my last partnership search I had several tryouts. A common thread during these tryouts as, “I used to dance but I could find a partner. Now I’m ready to start again!” That may be true, but there was almost nothing worse that someone could tell me. To me that means this person will stop dancing when things get hard. It means the person blames their problems on other people. It means this isn’t going to be a partnership, it’s going to be me carrying someone.
As I said, it is easier to advance when one has a partner than when one doesn’t, but it’s important to look at periods without a partner as just another challenge in one’s dance career. The partner search for my first competition partnership took nearly a year, but during that time I continued to take lessons, train, and practice so that when I found that partner I was ready. The result was that I was able to attract a better partner than I could have at the start of my search because I had made myself a better potential partner. I had proven that I was willing to work. What would it have said if I’d stopped dancing until I found a partner? Probably that I expected her to carry me.
Furthermore, consider where we find partners. Sure there are websites like http://www.dancepartner.com that offer partner matching services, though their record is somewhat spotty. To know where to find a partner just remember that the person you’re looking for is a dance partner: he or she is a dancer! Where do dancers go? Anywhere in the dance community. They may go to socials, take lessons, go to competitions (to dance TBA, Jack and Jills, or just to watch), or anything else involving other dancers. The more one involves oneself in the world of dance the more likely one is to find these dancers. My current partner was introduced to me by a mutual friend, also a dancer, but only because we were both actively involved in numerous dance “scenes” in our area and one of them happened to overlap. Once we were introduced we discussed goals and drive. Though I was only interested in pursuing one style (American smooth), it was a style she hadn’t done before. Nonetheless as an active dancer who was developing her skills in numerous areas she was someone I was willing to be patient with while she learned it.
The takeaway lesson is don’t get discouraged. Work on your dancing and continue to push yourself. While nothing can guarantee success, the active, developing dancer is more likely to find a partner than the dancer who sits back and complains, and will be in a better position to dance with that partner whenever he or she appears. When will you find Mr. or Ms. Right? I have no idea but it’s not important. Go and practice.