The vast majority of social dances are fun and enjoyable experiences. However, nothing about them is particularly memorable.
But every once in a while you have a dance which you do remember for longer, and which brings a smile to your face for days, sometimes weeks and months after.
These are the dances where you and your partner grin at each other afterwards a bit speechless, and wonder what the hell just happened.
I’ve had a few of those dances just lately…the ones where you are just totally in the flow, where all the stars and planets align, and time/space outside of the dance bubble ceases to exist
A perfect meeting and meshing of two humans with the music, creating magic in the moment and weaving a spell around each other.
It was like our heartbeats and goosebumps were in sync.
I believe that the better you get the more possibility you have of experiencing these dances.
The thing is that for these dances to even have a chance of happening, I think there are certain prerequisites that both partners have to meet.
- Elite level connection skills and lead/follow technique. Because poor connection technique not only muddies the lines of communication, it can be distracting.
- Awesome musicality which enables both partners to not on
- Ability to improvise and create in the moment with
- Ninja level spatial awareness enabling both partners to play with foot placement, rhythm, positioning, body movement and shaping as well as arm styling.
- A lot of high quality social dance experience. Dancing with people better than you is the only way to appreciate and understand how other cancers use the space and hear, feel, and interpret the music
- Be 100% present in the moment with no preconceived ideas about what YOU want the dance to be. This means that last week’s class routine is off the table, as by definition coming in with even a couple of bars of pre-choreographed turn pattern or shine combo disconnects you from responding to the music and your partner in real time.
- An attitude of openness, collaboration, and playful interaction. Being open to exploring what your partner is responding to in the music and what they want to experience.
When I talk about connection I’m not talking about the purely physical. There are spatial, energetic and emotional aspects to it also.
Everyone starts with the obvious – eye contact.
People getting drilled in beginner classes to “look at your partner” when often they are looking at the floor a) Because they don’t trust their fett, or b) because they are too self conscious to meet anyone else’s gaze.
For me eye contact is mostly a “Goldilocks” thing.
Too little and you struggle to get a read on your partner.
Too much and it feels weird..
Yet I’ve had sublime dances where there was next to no eye contact – the lead was throwing everything but the kitchen sink at me and there was barely time to smile between triple spins and being sent into another whirlwind of travelling turns and twisty direction changes.
In those dances, everything relies on split-second timing and tactile cues.
I’ve had other dances which were intense and dramatic, and our eye contact was locked throughout.
So connection is not a one-size-fits-all thing. The style and intensity of the connection can be highly variable depending on multiple factors – the music, the personality of the dancers, the part of the song they are dancing to and the specific moves/combinations being led.
And the reason you know it is an elite level skill is that no one will be aware that this is even happening – least of all the couple who are dancing.