As dancers, I think we intermittently become afraid that if we speak up, we will be punished. Is it because of the abundance of our kind trying to make it? Maybe. Maybe we stay silent to injustices because we are afraid we will be kicked to the curb and quickly be replaced. This is a reality in dance companies, partnerships, and educational facilities. There is a fine line that can be crossed when speaking up becomes a disrespect.
When your intuition, also known as your inner voice, is kicking and screaming that something is not right, we need to pay attention. We need to at least acknowledge it and try to see whether it has any merit or truth behind it. Sometimes it is related to previous situations that come up as deja vu and bring up a disturbing memory. Sometimes it is something to which attention needs to be paid.
Within dance companies, there are directors who do no care what the dancers have to say. If you speak up against an injustice, you can be let go. This is unfortunate but true. However, there are companies where there is a strong director, but the company members also can voice their opinions. Many of this type of company are the healthier ones that are around for longer and keep their dancers for longer as well. There definitely has to be someone in charge, but the best leaders are those who enable rather than dictate.
Within a partnership, I think there has to be the same type of leadership. One partner maybe a stronger leader (professionally or personally), but that balance of power still has to be there to enable both partners to be respected and no one gets abused. I have encountered many an abusive partner in my lifetime and I have ended up injured physically or emotionally because of not speaking up when my inner voice was concerned. A healthy partnership has to be healthy for both members and there has to be that balance of power.
I know many a man who does not want the balance of power to shift. They are still the minority of available dancers in the world, so they do unfortunately have more power in the relationship than they should. They can make or break their parter within the partner dancing realm. This can unfortunately make the female partner a bit submissive and maybe more mute than she should be. The best male partners I have had the pleasure to work with are worldly enough to know they have the power to make or break me, but also know enough to respect what I bring to the table and what they can learn from me as well as sharing their knowledge to enrich me at the same time.
I think it is time we set some boundaries with those who are leadership or power roles in the dance world. When they step out of line, it needs to be addressed. Without that, the working relationship can be soured so quickly and the relationship quickly fails or becomes abusive. We have a right as a human to be respected. Speak up when your inner voice tells you to. It’s there for a reason. Dance involves physical sacrifice, but doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice who you are and what you need to be successful.