Sharing The Joy Of Dancing

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF A BALLROOM DANCER


Most of the previous articles have been about the mechanical and physical relationships and actions used to evolve the dancer's movements from "Individual Dancers" to a "Partnership" and eventually on to a "Singularity". What about what is going on in the dancers head during this evolution? (The "Phycology" of a Ballroom Dancer) A simple definition of "Psychology" is: "the way a person thinks". I'm sure that not all Ballroom Dancers think in the same manner, but here is at least one psychological perspective.

The beginning "Individual Dancer's" mind is consumed with individual foot movements and trying to string them together into some kind of sequence. This seems to be what is going on for both the man and the woman. I didn't say "Leader and "Follower" because that concept is still in the future. The mind is desperately trying to get the feet moving in some kind of organized manner as they try to replicate a pattern they were just taught. The mind is working overtime to remember the foot sequences.

The "Individual Dancer" now starts to get an awareness of his/her dance partner. This creates a slight panic of trying to match each other. Now the foot sequences feel different and more problematic. The presence of another person (dancer) is a little intimidating. With repetition of the foot sequences, however, the mind slows down a little and the foot sequences become more muscle automatic and less mind demanding.

A little muscle memory of the foot sequences allows the mind to start to focus on the aspects of "Partnership". This somehow causes the foot pattern muscle memory to regress a little bit. Through more repetition the "Partnership" starts to become less intimidating. The foot sequences start to evolve into dance pattern "elements" that have a "Partnership" feel. Even though there is more going on, the mind is starting to relax a little and is getting more control of the physical movement.

At this point, the minds focus is directed to trying to synchronize the physical movement as a "Partnership" activity and not as an individual activity. The theory is to place the ladies body in a position that she can do only one thing (Basically, dancing the ladies every single footstep). The man's mind changes its focus again to accommodate the "Partnership" movement. The lady now changes her focus to dance just one step at a time (what she feels). Now she has to "undo" the foot sequence mind set she learned previously. The "Partnership" aspects continue to grow and grow. Unfortunately, many dancers stop at this level. I think mainly because they are not aware of the "Singularity" level.

Once the "Partnership" is seemingly under control, the next step is to evolve to the "Singularity" level. This may seem to be beyond reason, but at the "Singularity" level the "Partnership" disappears and a single entity emerges. You are your partner and vice versa. There is a single mind with seemingly no communication between the two dancers. Whatever the mind decides, it just is. This doesn't work unless the two dancers are equally participating. At this level, the mind seems to be completely free and movement is as if you are a single person. The minds focus is now on the music, the character of the dance, the floor, power, control, etc., etc.

The descriptions above are very simplistic compared to the complexities of what the mind is actually processing. There is not a single mind set; it has to continue to evolve to transition to the "Singularity" level. As with every sport, it continues to evolve and the psychology of Ballroom Dancing is what makes it evolve.

The ladies dilemma in all of this is that she has to guess what to do when dancing with less skilled dancers and then change back when she dances with highly skilled leaders. The major problem is that there are many, many, different skill levels of leaders that she has to deal with. The ladies psychology is all over the place trying to deal with all of these various skill levels. The solution is for the lady to become a trained skilled dancer. She will now be able to dance with a dancer of any skill level.