A to Z Challenge

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

C is for Connection

C is for Connection
Various dance partners have told me that I was too light (every girls dream?  Not really in this case) too heavy (definitely not dream material), too slow, too fast, not following, disengaged from my core, not connected and can’t follow.  OUCH!  …someone please remind me why I dance?  Anyway, after the tears and dejection and repeated repairs to my dancing self confidence, I started to understand that all those mean spirited comments were really just dance buzz for “I can’t lead you to do what I want you to do!”  And that is my fault why?

Partner dancing is really just a conversation between two people about a piece of music.  A conversation requires communication and dance communication is called connection. Since at our very best, humans rarely communicate well, it is no surprise that communicating something as esoteric as how two bodies should move in order to “talk” about a piece of music that each is likely to hear differently…is well…at best full of scary pitfalls and at worst a recipe for disaster. 

Of all the different dance skills that I have worked on, connection is the most elusive.  There is no single “right” way to connect.  Like communication, I have to use a different style or amount of connection for every dance and with every partner.  It is simply a bit of luck, a bit of trial and error, and a lot of listening (yes, listening…with my muscles, not my ears).  Connection is only “right” when it works and only works when it is “right”.  It is not an easy concept to teach or to learn.

Over time, I have learned that at least part of the failure of any communication and that includes connection really IS my fault.  You see connection is created by energy in opposition between the leader and the follower, but interestingly connection is created by the follow, not the leader…yes really.  If the leader tries to create connection, it feels to the follow like a lead.  However, if the leader creates the frame for the follow to connect with then the leader can use that connection created by the follow as a baseline from which to alter the amount of connection to create a the lead.  If the follower does not create the connection then the leader can not lead.  So truly, if the follower can’t follow, the leader can’t lead…not the other way around! 

Hmmm….that sounds a bit like life doesn’t it?

Today’s Dance: C ha- C ha - C ha

A fast, spirited Latin Dance that was imported from Cuba to England in the early 1950s.  Known for its lightening fast footwork and (hubba-hubba) Cuban hip action, it is danced competitively in both American Rhythm and International Latin competitions.  Although the dance has a very distinct structure of rock steps and triples steps, competitively the footwork has become so fast and syncopated that it is often difficult to see the basic pattern….or the ladies costume….


  1. We're really like birds communicating in flight about which way to dive. Love this suggestion of communication between dancers.

    1. Thank you for your thought on birds. I love birds and their flight really is a dance. I also think that dancing is as close as we humans come to flying on our own.

  2. Great analogy between dancing and life.
    Just stopping by from the A-Z.

  3. One of the best tips I ever heard about effective communication came from my university years. It was in Business Speech if I recall correctly.

    The professor, whom I did not like, said that the number one reason why people did not communicate effectively was because generally people do not listen well, but rather are thinking of what to say.

    I try to listen well, always remembering what the prof said.