Dance Personas, and How to Deal With Them

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Stephen Marino

We encounter some or all of them at every social: the guy who holds your hand like a wet fish, the girl who critiques everyone they dance with. We may try to avoid them, but odds are, we’ll be asked or unknowingly ask one of them to dance sooner or later. So, how do we make the best of it?

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In this by-no-means-exhaustive list, let’s look at 5 difficult dance personalities, and how you can actually enjoy dancing with them – or if you can’t, when it’s time to leave.

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Timid Timothy

Characteristics: ‘Did they lead that?’ ‘I can’t seem to get them to do anything!’ ‘Why won’t they tell me what they want??’ These dancers are beginners who second-guess every lead and follow, causing leads that are weak or change in the middle, and follows that let their frames collapse and barely seem to dance with you at all.

How to deal with it: If you’re the follower, and you don’t get a strong lead, DON’T DO ANYTHING. This will force them to lead you more strongly if they want to you to move. Leaders might stick with patterns in closed position, so they can physically move their partner through the shoulder blade if necessary.

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Hulking Harry

Characteristics: If it doesn’t work, force it! They use brute-strength to push you through moves, risking an injury in the process. Hulking followers will tighten up until pushing them is like shoving a fridge uphill, or even try to hijack your leads.

How to deal with it: Up to a point, both sides can be managed by gritting your teeth and adding some muscle tension of your own to protect your joints from painful movements. If they are really overpowering you however, let them know. And don’t hesitate to end the dance early if they don’t listen.

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Showoff Sally

Characteristics: They look awesome, pulling off cool styling moves, sexy shimmies, and extreme arm styling. The problem? They’ve completely ignored you in the process.

How to deal with it: As with Timid Timothy, followers can simply stop and watch the show, until their partner realizes they’re neglecting you. A wise and gentlemanly leader can simply compliment his follower’s showmanship by playing down his own styling. He may have to become assertive however, if his partner starts taking over the lead as well.

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Critiquing Christine

Characteristics: My (least) favourite, this guy/girl steps on your toes, barely connects with you, and hardly seems to pay attention for the whole dance. And when the song ends, they feel the need to play a judge on Dancing With the Stars and correct YOUR technique.

How to deal with it: Shelve your ego! Your partner is covering up their insecurities by trying to appear as a dance expert, and they will only put up resistance if you tear down their mask. Simply smile, thank them, then leave. Best of luck if you ever have to dance with them again.

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Sexual Harris

Characteristics: You’re creeped out before you can even take a closed hold. They look at you – or parts of you – with a creepy smile or ‘hungry look’, and hold you too close for the whole dance. And count yourself lucky if they keep their hands in respectable places.

How to deal with it: Most of the previous personas you can be at least a little forgiving with, but this one definitely requires firm action. Once you’ve sure they’re not going to back off, look right at them and ask that they keep more distance, be more careful with their hands, etc. If they cross the line again, thank them and walk away. No dance is worth being taken advantage of.

Author: Ian Crewe
Photography: Stephen Marino
Exclusively for Dance Comp Review

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