Welcome to the most heartbreaking aspect of competitive ballroom and Salsa dancing: you can’t do it alone. And, to make matters worse, there aren’t even enough men involved to go around! Looking for a new partner can be difficult. There are so many issues for partners to consider. For example, if dancing standard, then your body heights and leg length needs to match within a certain comfort range. If dancing Latin, many men are sensitive about dancing with women who are not significantly shorter than they are. Also, there is the issue of practice time available to both partners. Rachel Holland has some practical advice on how to deal with the notoriously tricky business of finding a new dancing partner.
The only way to find a partner is to keep looking. You never know who will join your class, enter that competition, who will decide to come back to dancing after stopping for a while, or who will break up with their partner. Keep your eyes open and try every resource you can.
Post an Ad
The internet has made finding new dancing partners a lot easier. Web sites such as www.DanceSport.UK.com or www.Salsa-UK.com are set up by dancers for dancers. These sites will let you post an ad or check out other potential partners for free. Just post an attractive picture of yourself and fill out all the information (don’t leave your prospects guessing!)
Spread the Word
Tell every dance teacher, coach and dance friend you know (not just the ones you take lessons with) that you are looking. Go to a variety of dance venues, studios and competitions. It works like this: The more places you go to, the more people you meet and the more dancers you talk to, the more hooked into the local gossip network you will be.
Arrange to have try outs
It’s hard to know if you want to dance with someone you haven’t met. That’s what try outs are for. If you connect with someone through an ad, arrange for a series of try outs. You’ll soon know whether you have a dancing future together! “If you try out with one or two partners that don’t work out, don’t give up! It’s not uncommon to try 10 or more partners before you find someone compatible,” says Ken Greer, who recently founded www.DancePartner.com . “Finding a dance partner is somewhat like dating, only far more stressful!” he says. “Realize that you are both together with the same goal in mind – to improve your dancing and have fun in the process,” Ken advises.
Go to competitions
Going to competitions is a good way to find a partner. You’ll be surrounded by actively competing dancers. Let everyone know you’re looking for someone, and the contacts you develop will help you to get news of new prospects. Volunteer to help the organisers, it’s a good way to meet the competitors and have them get to know you and remember you (and you often get free or discounted admission to the event for it, depending on how much time you can offer them).
Keep an open mind
If you are too picky you run the risk of limiting your choices. So go and check out the beginners class every once in a while. If lessons are offered at the beginning of the dance, take them, even if you are an advanced dancer and it’s a lesson for beginners. Single people, especially beginners, who are looking for partners, are more likely to be taking part in the lessons. Every so often someone with just good talent but not much experience comes along. University classes get a lot of new dancers, and every so often a gem appears. If you’re not a student, don’t be put off; many university dance clubs allow non-students to join in.
Keep your options open
Never sit or dance with someone for very long unless you want all other potential partners to assume you are together. If you go with a friend, split up, it’s more intimidating to ask a stranger to dance if they are with someone. You can reconnect every now and then during the evening. Circulate and pay attention to where single people tend to stand if they want to be asked to dance. When in doubt, stand near the dance floor to let people know you want to dance. Smile, have fun! Others will notice and want to join you.
Checklist for the ideal dance partner:
Someone who has got the ability to dance, learn, teach, and compromise
Someone about your height; your mutual body height and leg length needs to match within a certain comfort range
Someone of a similar age to you
Someone with an evenly matched experience level to you
Someone who is flexible and capable of compromise
Someone who lives reasonably near to you
Someone who shares your dancing goals (“strictly business” versus “strictly social”)
Someone who has practice time available
Want to find a partner who you can teach with? Teaching partnerships require a lot of give and take. Ideally, you both actually talk during class, thus giving students the benefits of both of your experiences. A partnership needn’t have both dancers dancing the exact same style, merely that both styles look good and work well together. So, you want to start teaching with someone, what do you look for? First, Communication Skills: The best teaching partnerships come from people who can communicate well, not just to the class, but with each other as well. Second, Mastery: This means that being a good club dancer, or a top-notch competitor, may not necessarily make for the best teaching partnership. It may seem easy to explain the basic steps, but beyond that, there are a lot of nuances, tips, and dance fundamentals that a good teaching partnership should be able to get across to their students. Third, Connection: Ideally, the partners dance well together and can demonstrate the patterns clearly and confidently.
Don’t forget: Make your move when you think you have found a possibility, jump on the chance rather than waiting around wondering whether the person is available or interested, or even if you should approach them. If you don’t ask, someone else will, and then a brief window of opportunity will have closed. Grab those dancing shoes and go for it! Article courtesy of Dancing Times Ltd.