Partner dancing with another person is the one of the most joyous things I have experienced. Dancing in complete flow and in my utmost expression with another person is fantastic. The lively atmosphere of a crowded dance floor is what makes for a great experience, with so many people contributing their energy to the space. Conversely though, social partner dancing can be a hotbed of ego, showing itself through personal interactions on the dance floor. It is this very nature of social partner dancing which makes an ideal place to explore the joy of flow but also the pain of the inner critic.
Social partner dance is first and foremost a relationship between two people. It is made up of two people expressing themselves to music together and can be seen as a microcosm of our personal relationships to others in the world outside of dancing. The joy and shadow we experience within the partner dance is reflected in our experience of the world at large. So, rather than focusing on steps, shapes or sequences, I would like to introduce the idea of using social partner dance to mindfully explore our personal relationship to dance expression, music and partnerships.
This is by no means to diminish the joy of learning steps, shapes or sequences, as these contribute to the coherence of partner dancing and also to the fun. However, my intention is to introduce the idea of probing deeper into why we partner dance the way we do, and to ultimately enhance our dancing experience through this exploration.
For example, after partner dancing for many years I started doing free-form dance practices which asked for more authenticity in my dancing rather than doing steps that I was familiar with. Although I loved improvisation and considered myself experienced at it, I was surprised to find not only how locked my body was in doing set patterns of movement, but also how I contracted my self-expression in dancing by only doing the movements which I felt were 'safe' (i.e not going to be judged by other people because I could do them well, or they looked ok.) After practicing dance with a more mindful approach to how I was/or wasn't dancing, I started to unwind set patterns in my body and mind and found a feeling of exploration and renewed energy, not just in my dancing, but in my life as well. It is this opportunity I want to share with you through my work with partner dancing here.
Exploring partner dance consciously and mindfully is to become more authentic in yourself and your dancing. It is not necessarily easy and there can be resistance to exploring uncomfortable things or course, but what you will discover about yourself will help you become more grounded and confident in your partner dancing and life as well.
If you are interested to read more about mindful partner dance, I have written a short e-guide with practices you can do to explore your relationship to dance, musical expression and partnership.