The 5 Equations of Partnership


If ballroom dancing is the journey, then partnership is the ride. And for a greater journey, we need an equally great ride. Days will otherwise fade in lame resemblance, as dancers flounder on their path towards seemingly unobtainable goals. And performances will faint in the shadow of a lost potential. Of two lost potentials, to be exact.

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But at the other end of the spectrum, where the dance floor blazes with fire, a couple dances and grabs the attention. Dancers share much more than beautiful choreographies and sharp technique. They exude with energy, harmony and with their own unique identity. This is only possible when dancers embrace the art of synergy.

So, how does that happen?

It all starts with Michael and Elsa – two random dancers. Each one of them has a unique dance imprint that reveals individual power. Let’s call these “Power (M)” for Michael’s and “Power (E)” for Elsa’s.

The two dancers are partners. How they perform together can make the dullness or the greatness of the dance.
And the possible results of that performance can be mathematically modelled and explained – yes, sometimes, (basic) math actually makes sense.


Result #1 = The Negative Sum of Both

Equation = 0 – [Power (M) + Power (E)]

Michael and Elsa are in a state of war on the battlefield of dance. Each one tries to bring out the best of his/her individual power, at the expense of the other. Michael wants to show how big and strong his moves are but Elsa seeks to reveal the sharpness of her technique. He puts her off balance and she blocks him. In the end, they both end up losing their energy in the fight, instead of joining forces for the dance.


Result #2 = The Gap Between the Two

Equation = Power (M) – Power (E) OR Power (E) – Power (M)

Elsa and Michael are both on the dance floor. And they are not fighting! But it feels that only one of them is dancing, because someone is outshining the other who is lagging behind. What people see from the outside is the empty space between two powers, as if each dancer lived on a different planet. The unbalanced nature of the performance stings the eye. And the result is a failure to communicate the spirit of harmony that should emanate from the dancing.


Result #3 = Their Average

Equation = [Power (M) + Power (E)] / 2

Michael and Elsa perform the dance together, but they still lack some harmony. Although no one is outshining or fighting with the other, they are both so focused on themselves that they forget that the dance is not just about each dancer independently, rather about the couple as an entity. Their sense of independence, although admirable, reveals a lack of communication. The initial success is that each one is seeking to master one’s part without hindering the role of the partner. But this is just half a success, because the absence of interdependence takes away the magic of the dance.


Result #4 = The Sum of Both

Equation = Power (M) + Power (E)

The couple finally understood that the two need to work together to harvest the energy of the partnership. They have also started to understand each other’s needs and seek to fill the gap, like in a puzzle. Instead of just doing their part, they support each other. Their dancing shows some cohesion. And the interaction between the two feels like the tide, a gentle flow that fills the movement with content. This stems from a collaboration where partners join forces.

Yet, there’s still one more step.


Result #5 > The Sum of Both Squared

Equation = [Power (M) + Power (E)]2

Not only are Michael and Elsa complementing each other’s movements, but they are also transcending them. They embody the dance, claim it as their own and inhabit every part of it, together. The performance is no longer a puzzle, but a seamless perfect picture of who they are and what they do. As for the interaction between the dancers, it is no longer limited to the tide; it is the entire ocean in action. The dancing finally distinguishes itself with an identity that is larger than the sum of the parties.

This… is Synergy!

So, what kind of dance partnership are you living today?
And what should you do next?

Author: Alexandra Kodjabachi
Photography: DanceSport
Exclusively for Dance Comp Review