Although WCS is a partner dance, we generally teach the dance in terms of what is expected from your role. As a result, it can be years before you start to learn how to dance with your partner.
This omission is particularly striking because teamwork is one of the fundamental judging criteria that the community espouses. We start learning timing and technique from day 1, but teamwork is not taught until much later.
“Teamwork” is a broad concept that encompasses dozens of different skills, from featuring your partner to connection, from mirroring to invitations. There are a lot of ways to be a great teammate, and every dancer will be stronger at some of these skills than others. However, most WCS dancers are much stronger and timing and technique than teamwork, simply because teamwork is introduced much later in the learning process.
The next time you go out dancing, challenge yourself to focus on teamwork. Here are some suggestions for how to think about teamwork during your dances:
- What does your partner want out of this dance? Pay attention to how your partner is approaching the dance. You might have a brand new lead whose goal is to survive the three minutes without feeling like he ran out of patterns; you might have an advanced follower that is trying to become comfortable with a new invitation response. What does this partner want out of this three minutes?
- What can you give your partner in this dance? If your partner struggles with timing, how can you keep the dance rhythm unmistakably clean? If your partner is repeating a new movement, can you give him or her opportunities to try that motion in the dance?
- Can you bring your partner up? If there’s a skill that your partner doesn’t have yet, how can you adjust your dance to make them feel how awesome the dance can be? Please don’t take this as an invitation to just throw away your good habits in order to accommodate their bad habits. Instead, you should be asking how you can use your good technique to encourage their dancing.
- How can you make your partner smile? Everyone wants to have a good time while dancing, but often times we are so caught up in our heads that we forget to share our joy with our partner. How can you share your excitement?