I’ve talked before about my beliefs about the fine intertwining, but separation of the skills of partnering and dancing.
As I’ve improved my skills at both I’ve found that my skill in partnering allows me to do a lot more of my own dancing. I don’t have to concentrate quite so hard on what my partner is asking me to do, which frees up a lot of energy and time to work in my own variations, or body movements, or do things just to match the music. I feel like these things still let me dance with my partner. The most amazing follows that I’ve lead do very similar. They do their own interpretations of the ideas that I start us out with. Sometimes it’s jaw dropping levels of amazing how someone can mold and shape their ideas while keeping true to our dance. I’ve danced with the opposite. Follows who cared very much about what their dance was, and didn’t pay close attention to partnering. Where I felt I had to be very firm to get their attention at all, taking any subtlety out of my leading (not that I’m super subtle to start).
However there is one type of person that will ruin both my partnering and my dancing. The person who will lead me into others on the dance floor. For a good dance, especially when I am following, I need to be able to trust the person I’m dancing with. To partner well I need to know that they aren’t sending me into danger. Otherwise I spend the dance worrying about looking after myself. This introduces anxiety and with the anxiety I become tense and that washes my dancing down the drain.