Ballroom Dance > Lasting Partnership - What is the secret ?

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by dancingirldancing, Jun 7, 2010.

  1. sambanada

    sambanada Active Member

  2. danceronice

    danceronice Well-Known Member

    Wrong is absolute, not about blame. One person or the other is wrong, or both are wrong, if something isn't working. The thing for me is it has to be "You were wrong" or "that felt bad", not, "You suck as a human being and are always wrong about everything." Something is either right or it isn't. The balance is not lying about it, sugar-coating, or trying to either share blame if it is one person's fault or single one partner out when both are actually wrong. Possibly I'm used to solo sports, including one where probably the single most famous coach/chief d'equipe is notoroiusly...blunt. George Morris will absolutely be nasty and say you're riding terribly if you are. The thing is, if he then gets on your horse and gets dumped, he'll also admit the horse got the better of him and he's not always perfect. In a solo sport you learn not to take "You're doing it wrong" as some kind of personal assault, just a desire not to waste time trying to soften th blow. The person who spots the error should say something, if it's their partner's error, or their own.

    Rereading the OP I think the only thing I would worry about is that DGD's PARTNER also expects them to do well at Nationals--which is good, you should go into a competition planning on doing well, but if she's worried that not *placing* as well (not the same thing as not PEFORMING well) will mean he'll drop her, that might be a problem and time to talk about expectations. Judges are weird. You can have an awesome day and not place as well as you think you should. I've only ever been seriously upset by results once, and that was self-directed--after losing every event I entered in a particular style in a very lopsided fashion (there was no judinging oddities, just almost every single judge at every competition thought I was the worst on the floor in that style) I was mad at myself. Not my teacher's fault, not the judges' fault. Otherwise I've had days where I thought I should have placed better, but I didn't. That's just how it goes--I wasn't going to dump my teacher or complain about unfair judging. That would be my only worry with a partner--you can't be successful at any sport if you get one bad result (or even just less than you expected) and decide the whole thing's not working.
  3. bia

    bia Well-Known Member

    Ooh, I recognize that guy. I lasted less than a year and a single competition with one like him. I can't think of any additional options she has, though -- it's a choice between putting up with the partnership as it is or breaking it up, and she seems to have made her choice. I wonder what would happen if she called his bluff once or twice on the walking-out-if-no-apology thing. It could just possibly improve his behavior a little, but it would also risk his walking out for good. If she's not willing to risk that to gain some respect in the partnership, then the current dynamic is all there is. It's sad to see.
  4. ChaChaMama

    ChaChaMama Well-Known Member

    As someone who dances both am (with husband) and pro-am, I would say the dynamics are very different.

    In my am partnership, it is not always clear whose fault something is. In a partnership where both partners are students, problem solving is different than it is when one partner is the teacher.

    So it's not necessarily a matter of "sugar coating" vs. telling it how it is. Sometimes, it's a matter of authority. Do I know enough to diagnose the problem? For example:
    -If it seems to me like he has a weak lead, am I right? Or could it be that I am anticipating and not giving him enough time to lead?
    -If we are too close together, is it that he didn't take a big enough step or that I took too large of a step?
    -If we are too far apart, is it that he took too large of a step or that I did, or that one of us stepped at the wrong angle?
    In a partnership of equals, there may need to be discussion to try to figure out why something didn't work, rather than one person saying "No. Wrong. Do it this way."

    If I am sure that something is wrong and I know the answer, I definitely say it. That's necessary to make practice productive at all, rather than just the running of material.

    And I think there is a happy medium between "My sweetie shnookums, would it be possible for you not to lift your arm so high that I feel a bit like I'm dangling like a marionette in this move?" and "No. Wrong."
  5. Standarddancer

    Standarddancer Well-Known Member

    Patience, good communication, sense of humor, open mind to try things different way; willingness to compromise; the “only my way or no way” attitude is not gonna to work
  6. TinyDancer109

    TinyDancer109 Well-Known Member

    I think CCM makes some excellent points. Neither partner has the expertise, so how do you know who is wrong (if not both)? I think us pro/am dancers can't really understand that dynamic unless we have been there with am/am.

    Therefore, I can't really contribute much to this thread, but I do find a good source of information in it. Good luck DGD!
  7. jjs914

    jjs914 Active Member

    CCM, great points. I've had similar experiences with my Am partner, regarding the need for discussion. I can, and often do, say if something feels wrong but both DP and I have learned we need to look at what each of us is doing (this is a continual work in program for me, in particular, not to jump to conclusions about what went wrong and who's fault it was).
  8. Jananananana

    Jananananana Active Member

    Key to a lasting partnership: don't take advice from people who haven't had lasting partnerships!
  9. Mengu

    Mengu Well-Known Member

    It almost sounds like you're talking about me. I am highly critical, quick to find faults, am likely overconfident about my dance level, and blame nearly everything on my partner. At the very least, sounds like you're dealing with someone like me, and the best way to deal with me, is to keep dancing, and keep dancing... dance a section again and again, until it works or we decide to shelve it for the instructor, and pay attention to what I should be doing, so you can point to things I'm doing wrong, or at least things that just feel wrong.

    I'm critical because I want to get better, and I take my practicing seriously. I find faults more often than see improvements, because the moment we improve in an area, a fault somewhere else rises to my attention. I've competed enough to know my level of dancing is pretty mediocre, but due to the excellent instruction I get, I feel like I have more knowledge than I can apply to my dancing, which probably makes me usually look like a know it all who should really practice more (and I know it!). I probably sound like I blame everything on my partner because it's a lot easier to feel what my partner is doing wrong, than it is to feel what I myself am doing wrong. That's something my partner has to tell me. I'd be ecstatic to hear from my partner all the things I should be trying to fix. And they need to be patient with me. I just have to do it over and over, trying different approaches and thought processes, until I can fix something.

    Maybe each partner in a relationship should make a "how to deal with me" list. Some people are easy to deal with and may have short lists, some like me, not so much.
  10. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    I don't think this is true. What makes dance an art is the huge amount of gray between right and wrong.

    Sure, there are times when one partner just totally blows a dance and ends up off beat while standing on their head in the corner. In these moments, we all laugh or cry and then move on. As our competence increases, the total screw-ups become few and far between.

    The art part is what do we do with multiple options that are correct. As I am leading, I can choose how much to allow my frame to open. Whether I choose to keep it very tight, open it slightly or open it a ton all change the feel for my partner and how they express the dance.

    I think most disagreements among equally skilled partners revolve around the choice of what is being led and how the follower chooses to interpret that lead.
  11. tanya_the_dancer

    tanya_the_dancer Well-Known Member

    They can tell you what not to do, though :)
  12. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    Note that just because a comment is made in a critical fashion doesn't mean it isn't accurate. Sometimes one just has to learn to be objective. If one takes 100% of critical comments personally, one is guaranteed to be hurt 100% of the time a critical comment is made.
  13. danceronice

    danceronice Well-Known Member

    This. Though it's NEVER only one person's fault. Even pros make mistakes. Don't take critical comments personally-success means focusing on fixing what is wrong (or recognizing what you can't fix and finding somethin you do better that can subsititute), not resting on what's right, but I might bring up that hey, buddy, it's not always me. Or better yet have a coach/authority figure do it.
  14. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    I personally find mental training is as important as muscle training for my not being overly critical. The discovery was that any tension in my body messes up my ability to stay in alignment for turns. If I get critical and frustrated, I just create tension either in myself or my partner and that throws us farther off balance. Then, it is impossible to correct the issue. I have to train myself to be more controlled with my emotions just like I train physically.
  15. Mengu

    Mengu Well-Known Member

    I'm critical of the tension in my body too :p

    In general I agree. But dancing itself washes away most of my day to day tension, so being critical and wanting to do it right, doesn't really increase that tension much, I don't think. I sometimes catch myself in the mirror with raised eyebrows or forehead, and have to remind myself to relax my face, and I allow that relaxation to run through the rest of my body, taking me to a serene place, which also helps with the tension you're talking about.
  16. madmaximus

    madmaximus Well-Known Member

    Remember that there are marked differences among criticism, observation, critique, and evaluation (etc).

    IMO criticism should be the teacher's purview (being an observer of the movement), not the student's (the performer)--if just for the sanity of the partnership.

    Often, within the dynamic of a partnership, criticism becomes a vehicle for assertion--however accurate, well-meaning, or benevolent it is supposed to be.

    Words have power and intent--so be cautious of how you treat them.

  17. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    For me, it isn't as much about my tension as the tension I create in my partner. If I create tension in her, then the same alignment and balance challenges seem to come up.
  18. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    Words have the power and intent you allow them to have.
  19. star_gazer

    star_gazer Active Member

    That is true but its very, very hard not to be sensitive to a partner's criticism when you are, at the same time, trying to relax and be sensitive to his movement.
  20. middy

    middy Well-Known Member

    Good, two-way communication is super important!

    My partner and I are trying to work on that...he speak more generally and I need specifics and details to figure out how to make things better, and sometimes there's just confusion between the two of us in that regard.

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