Tiptoeing Across the Line

Can two dancers work together and be intimately involved? I see it in dance companies. I see it partnerships. I see it in other settings as well. So how do people balance work and romance and still maintain both sides healthily? Carefully!

As feeling beings and passionate dancers, sometimes it can be difficult to separate what we feel when we are dancing from what we feel in life especially in the romantic department. It starts as a working partnership typically, not a romantic partnership. Two people notice each other. They crush on each other. Then the conundrum starts. I like this guy/girl. I like the way that I feel around him/her. Is it just a dance crush or do I feel something real that could lead into something amazing? Do I cross the line? What happens if this all unravels on the romantic side? Will I be hooped on the working side? It is a tricky situation.

Once the line is crossed, a few scenarios may ensue. The first scenario is that the romantic and working relationships deepen. The two grow closer on and off the floor resulting in their performing becoming more believable because the feelings expressed on the stage are real. They grow stronger in everything together and often have a prosperous partnership on and off the stage. This is many a dancer’s dream, but it is the exception.

The second scenario is the romantic relationship deepens and the working relationship becomes awkward. This is usually when the relationship is kept a secret. It maybe secret because the couple comes from an incestuous community of dancers, they are afraid of rumours, are protecting other community member’s feelings, amongst many more. Because they like each other, they try to come across as just friends and downplay even their working relationship. This leads to hurt and resentment.  Sometimes a couple will recover, sometimes the couple will not.

The third scenario is that neither relationship deepens often because one partner is more into it than the other.  The more romantically involved partner feels so scorned when the other one pursues other romantic options. There is the rare time that the working relationship survives.  Often it is more like an atom bomb that levels both partners and the working relationship.  This is the deep seated fear of getting romantically involved with a partner because a dancer’s heart is usually so passionate that it is hurt easily and deeply.

If you are tempted to cross the line, I seriously suggest a discussion about the rules of engagement before the lines is crossed and both partners have to agree to them. How do we act in regular public and in dance public? If someone asks, do we acknowledge our romantic relationship? Can we separate work and romance when the time is appropriate for each? If things fall apart, how do we recover the working relationship? Jumping in blindly is usually disastrous. Most partner dancers have been through it and likely sworn they would never do it again. It can be done though. There are successful crossed lines out there though and the key is communication and clarity. Look both ways before you cross!

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