I think once we have hit twelve years old or earlier, we all start to carry baggage. This translates into all areas of our life unfortunately. I do believe it is about the lessons we learned and trying to not repeat them. Using some caution in life can keep us out of trouble. If it makes us phobic to come close to repeating those errors, it can be paralyzing. That’s when it becomes unhealthy.
I see phobias in dance partnerships often. I have had previous partnerships affect me. I have had partners purposely hurt me because they were angry with my disobedience. When you have someone with anger issues and they have a physical tendency, that can translate to harming their partner’s body. You can imagine that having someone maliciously harm your body – the body that you may make a living with – can have long lasting effects on your trust in partners. If you see a hint of the personality type in someone you are working with, your guard is going to come up. They may never get to the point of doing you physical harm, but that warning system we all naturally have becomes activated. It is worth paying attention to and at least keeping in the back of your mind to watch for further warnings.
These phobias can also affect our ability to open up to a partner and let them in. When you have two people working together to tell a story, the story is more realistic if you can dig deep and show some of your experiences in your performance. It does not necessarily entail vocalizing the experience to your partner. I actually find that less vulnerable than expressing it through my body because it can be speak to my partner and audience in a way that I could never put into words. Speaking through my body also can awaken emotions that I had buried. This is part of why dance is cathartic for me.
How do we move past previous partnerships into new ones? I think it is a process. There has to be a period of adjustment with each new partnership. There has to be some proving to each other that you are trustworthy. You are placing each other’s career in each other’s hand. That is a vulnerability not seen in many career paths or relationships. If you have qualms with previous partners that you hold onto, a frank conversation with your new partner will not hurt. Knowing where your vulnerabilities lay that require protecting can help the other navigate with you into a healthy new partnership. Partnerships are difficult and they take work. When you end up spending more hours in the studio with someone than you do your friends or romantic partner, it’s important to make sure they are a healthy and safe part of your life.