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Ballroom Dance

J M (Mike) Nelson
Phone: 612-810-0157

Partner vs Freestyle Dancing

There are several distinctive aspects of dance that distinguish freestyle dancing from partner dancing, and, no matter how "good" or "creative" a freestyle dancer might be, there are few abilities, save a sense of rhythm, that transfer from freestyle dance to partner dance. The freestyle dancer is an independent agent; there is no obligation even to acknowledge the presence of another dancer, much less coordinate actions with another. In contrast, partner dancing is a partnership, and each member of the partnership must be acutely aware of both their role and that of their partner. Consider the following aspects of dance and their influence on the dancers.

When to step. Freestyle dancer's step whenever they wish, music notwithstanding; partner dancer's depend on the music and the dance cadence to tell them when to step so that they can step in synchrony.

Where to step. Freestyle dancer's step wherever they wish; partner dancer's depend on their physical and visual connection to keep them in position. There are also Line of Dance protocols that should be followed regarding position and direction of movement.

How to step. Freestyle dancer's step in any manner they desire; partner dancer's generally step normally so as to look more uniform and to avoid collision.

Though the freestyle dancer might consider the guidelines of partner dancing restrictive, if they are to synchronize their dancing with another person, their movements must either be choreographed, or they must develop a means of communication so that their movements will be congruent. To their credit, the freestyle dancer who changes to partner dancing will likely expect to relinquish a portion of their freedom on the dance floor as well as learn leading and following techniques associated with synchronizing their dance with their partner.

A major deficiency of the partner dancer is to fail to realize those aspects dance that make partner dancing functional. Most partner dancers are a parody of the ballroom dancer, having the appearance of formality but incorporating little or no functionality. The extended arms might appear to be in position, but likely as not are moving in all save the appropriate directions. The overlapping arms might appear to be in a formal dance position, but they, too, are not likely contributing much to the partnership. Finally, though they might appear to be in a formal dance position, their lack of attention to torso position often confirms their parody.

How to Know if You are a Parody

You might be a parody of a ballroom dancer if:

You bounce, tilt, or sway when you dance
You step diagonally, rather than forward, backward, or sideways
Your arms lack muscle tone
Your extended arm drifts back and forth or up and down
There isn't a constant, consistent, gentle pressure on your partner's extended hand
Elbows are not slightly forward of the torso
You grip your partner's hand or arm
Your right foot is not directed between your partner's feet
Your torsos are rarely parallel or symmetrically oriented

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