What does your phantom practice partner look like?

What does your phantom practice partner look like?

Taller, shorter? How big around? Do they step big or small?

I wasted so much time and so many opportunities early in my dance career because I suffered from the notion that I needed a partner to practice my couples dancing.

There are (at least) two types of solo practice: technique and “partner”.

In technique practice you don’t concern yourself with a partner. You are working purely on posture, quality of stepping, pivoting, use of body spirals, alignment, lines, balance, specific moves (boleos to front and back, enrosques, (what do you call those tiny crossing steps to front and back?), and …).

In “partner” practice solo you are practicing dancing, without music if you are working strictly on quality of movement, with music if working on musicality, creativity, and quality of movement. In this work you “visualize” and “feel” an imaginary—but as real as your senses can make it—partner. It should be so real that an onlooking person of imagination and empathy can also visualize the imaginary partner in your embrace. You will treat this partner just as you would a real one, with the difference that you can idealize their dancing qualities.

That idealizing does not, however, mean that you can disregard what your dancing does to them. Paradoxically, you may find yourself even more aware of your movement as you expand your awareness of how your partner needs to move. For example, did you just lead that step around you, into you, or away from you? Which did you really want?

Make your phantom partner real, to you, and to onlookers. Your phantom partner is wonderful. They are always ready to work when you are, and they can keep up with you and go as long as you can. Treat them well.

One thought on “What does your phantom practice partner look like?

  1. David Phillips Post author

    I’m working through my archive of Facebook posts on tango. (The black hole of Facebook annoys the heck out of me. For example, an item “David shared a link on …” with my commentary, but without the link!)

    I see that back in March 2013 I was working with a pair of canes for a “practice partner”. I’m now finding that I can visualize “her” feet just as well, even better, without the props, and I’m able to maintain a proper posture and “embrace”.

    Reply

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