Dance Partnerships: Partner down! Now what?

Imagine this scenario: you’ve got your practice and lesson schedule in hand, ready to roll at the current pace. Suddenly, your partner comes down with an injury that forces him take a 2 month break from dancing.

(Note: I used physical injury as an example, but it could be anything that can hinder scheduling, such as work or family commitments.)

How am I supposed to practice and go to lessons without a partner? you ask.

At the first instant, you feel upset, disappointed, and perhaps even angry that you will have to make do without your other half.

It’s normal to feel this way because it’s almost like having your non-dominant arm in a sling. You’re still able to dance on your own, but you’re simply inconvenienced by the availability of your partner.

There are two ways to go about this situation. Either you:
A. Pout and take your anger out while feeling sorry for yourself. (Not recommended.)
B. Or you can amend your plans and work out your solo schedule.

I highly recommend option B.

If your partner stops dancing, it doesn’t mean you should stop as well. Instead, use this time and scheduling to your advantage.

1. Ask your partner how long the break will be.

Obtaining a time frame will give you an idea of how long you will be without your long term partner. 3 months may feel like a long way, but when you reach the end of the singular period, you’ll look back and ask yourself why you didn’t make full use of the time that was available.

2. Talk to your teacher for alternative learning solutions.

It may take two to tango, but you must learn to do your part first. The temporary solo learning is the best time to start working on what you need to improve the most. It can mean working on your step turns, getting your basic footwork right, or improving your body connection. Working with your teacher will mean being able to receive more feedback based on your solo performance.

3. Put more time drilling your basic steps.

Everything comes from basic steps. Choreography and routines are simply variations of basic steps that have been chopped, diced, and rearranged to suit your needs. Focusing more on practicing the basics will improve your overall ability to hold your own independence as a dancer in the long run.

4. Dance your full choreography 2 times per practice session just to remember the steps.

Remembering the steps is not through the brain, but through muscle memory. While the mechanics will not be as smooth by the time your partner returns, being able to recall your steps with ease will improve your process from where you left off.

5. Keep your partner in the loop.

This will depend on the type of partner you have. Some may want to stay updated on your personal dance news, whereas others are much less talkative in this area. If your partner is the type who enjoys frequent banter, by all means, keep the communication channel open.

Being out of action is involuntary.

Never guilt trip your partner – unfortunate circumstances happen all the time. Similar to being caught in the rain with an umbrella by your side, having a contingency plan for times when you need to deal solo is just as crucial to becoming a reliable partner.

Have you ever had a time when one of you was out of action? How did you deal with it? Leave a comment below and share an example!

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