What to look for in a dance partner

1.      Make sure your partner wants to dance. While this might seem obvious to some, there are others who might do this with good intentions. Dragging someone repeatedly whether it be a spouse, significant other, or even a friend to something they don’t want to do will result in halfhearted partners if that. Take that famous saying you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. Now there’s nothing wrong with asking those people to participate in a single class, entry level if they’ve never danced before (don’t want to scare them off do you), to see if it’s something they’d like to do with you.

2.      Having trouble finding a partner. Now let’s say you’re single and none of your friends or family members want to or have the time to join in classes. No worries there’s avenues you can take.

·         Ask your instructor if they know of another person looking for a partner. While being blindly set up with someone might sound intimidating you still have the choice to accept or decline that person so no pressure. Typically, professional instructors have large social circles and multiple classes, so there’s a fair chance they might know someone that is genuinely interested in the style of dance you want and won’t be inappropriate. Also, you may politely set some reasonable guidelines such as being in the same age or time frame they’ll genuinely do their best to accommodate. (Pro tip: they aren’t a dating service. Don’t go ask them to get your dream partner.)

·         Check the internet. You aren’t the only one looking for a partner. Type in something like partners for ballroom dance (or whatever style of dance you wish) in (what area you live in). Sometimes there’s group chats from dance classes looking for people. Also, Facebook is another great tool here, as you can find groups of people in your area looking for partners as well. Now if you’re looking for a romantic partner in dance, they even have sites for that as well. Don’t worry they’ll advertise that fact greatly, so there’s minimal risk of accidently choosing a partner from one.

3.      Communication is a must. Make sure your partner and you are comfortable communicating. Being unable to get in touch with or talk to a partner is a deal breaker no matter the level. Coordinating routines, outfits, practice times, travel scheduling, and last-minute changes are a handful professional partners need to be able to discuss frequently.  Even people who just take dance for fun or are just starting need to be able to coordinate, times they’re able to go, location they are taking dance classes, and talk about last minute changes regarding class. (Suddenly not being able to come or maybe class got canceled.) Side note, if you don’t know your partner to well because you were paired together or something along those lines, then having a few phone calls to break the ice isn’t a bad idea either.

4.      Having the same skill level. Now this isn’t a must but try and find someone with the same skill level as you. (If your partner is someone you know and have discussed you level differences with skip this). This is to avoid the more advanced partner being bored and the new dancer feeling like a bourdon or overwhelmed. (Not that all advanced dancers would openly complain.) The fact is that someone who is in gold or advanced silver tear will undoubtedly already know all the moves someone learning the basics will know and while possibly enjoying memory lane might long for lessons a bit more to their level. (Remember they too are paying for the instruction.) Meanwhile the person learning might not only feel troublesome for their partner, but it’s important to dance will all kinds of people to learn the feel of different leads and fallows. Dancing with someone of higher tear might cause a new dancer to grow used to nearly perfect or perfect form and fumble with any other partner outside of that level. (Dances with other partners in professional dancing is unavailable and in most social dances fyi.)

5.      Pick someone who is hygienic. Self-explanatory for the most part. Being in close quarters with someone that smells unlike a dead animal or appears as though they’ve taken a stroll through an active construction site isn’t fun.

6.       Make sure your partner wants to dance the same style of dance as you. Having to partners that want to dance to different styles is problematic for beginners because ballroom has steps and guidelines then lest say breakdance.

7.      Look for someone who is patient. There is nothing worse in dance than having a partner (especially for beginners) who is in a rush, pushy, or overly controlling in dance. Learning any type of dance takes time and often while one person might click with one style of dance another might take longer in it. (In ballroom dance this holds true nearly 90% of time between waltz and foxtrot.) Some dances are even deliberately slow and mastering the steps doesn’t mean you’ve done it three times in class for ten minutes. Some dances can take years to prefect with posturing, steps, and timing. Therefore, having a partner that always seems ready to move to the next step or is impatient can be highly problematic.

8.      Be sure you can trust this person and can respect them. All partners need to have respect for the other person, as seen in reason number 7 for the most part. Being disrespect in the partnership in any form whether it be verbal, saying mean spirited comments or being passive aggressive, physical putting the fallow purposefully into steps they don’t know or purposefully being difficult with your lead by trying to take over for example, or being purposefully inappropriate in a perverted fashion will cause serious and damaging tension in the partnership. Should any of those issues arise finding a new partner will become a top priority. The simple dynamic of a lead and fallow can’t progress if the fallow doesn’t trust the lead or the fallow doesn’t respect the lead and vice versa. Expecting someone to do something for you after you degraded them in some fashion will typically result in apprehension via nervousness, passive aggression, or apathy which is not the point of learning dance. You’re supposed to have fun and make either a good friend in your partner or further the connection with your spouse/significant other.

9.      Lastly make sure your partner is healthy enough for classes. (There is always next session)! If your partner has been very ill, has sever stiffness recently, or recovering from an injury be kind and either wait for partner to be better or find a new partner for that session. (Make sure if this is a spouse or significant other, they are ok with this.)

In conclusion when picking your partner be sure you find someone you are comfortable conversing with, being in close contact with, and are safe with. For any reason if you unable say check to yourself with any of those things or find yourself no longer enjoying dance because of your partner maybe think about getting a new partner. There are plenty of fish in the sea and eventually you will dance with someone other than your partner anyway (more than likely). On the same note remember that dancing is like being to half of the same coin. Be reasonable with your partner and make sure you both have a nice time.