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Definitions of Connection in Dance

In dance community the word “connection” is used a lot. However since it is used in so many different contexts, it used to be a little confusing to me as to what it means. I’ve found that they’re just using one word to describe multiple things, apparently for the lack of better words in English. In this blog post I am clearing things up and giving you 4 different definitions of what social dancers and dance instructors use the word “connection” for.

1. Physical Connection

The first one is physical connection, which means that you and your partner have some parts of your body touching aka “connected”. It might be your hands or thighs, but maybe your arm and his neck, your neck and his shoulders – whatever physical points on your body. It can be just one point like your left arm holding his right arm, or multiple points, e.g. you are connected to your partner with your chest, hips and hands. When instructors say “connect to his chest” they’re probably talking about physical connection.

2. Connection As Understanding One Another

Connection can also be used to describe good compatibility in the lead-follow dynamic, meaning you understand each other very well. It’s when the follower is waiting for the lead and grasps almost everything their partner is asking for and when the leading is clear and straightforward for the follower. Good understanding of each other makes dancing very enjoyable. In this case (and for all the next points) you’d say “We had a good connection.” This type of connection can be improved by working on your leading and/or following skills.

3. Connection As Being Present With Each Other

It’s also possible to use the word “connection” in the sense that you are connected when you are mentally present with your dance partner and dance for each other. It’s when you’re paying attention them throughout the dance, to their body language and facial expressions, and making sure they’re having a good time. You’re not just trying to show off your moves to the crowd or practice something. When this type of connection is absent, you’ll feel like your partner is just using you as a prop for dancing and they aren’t really dancing with YOU. This connection is simple to improve – you’ll just promise to yourself that for the next dance, your attention will be 100% on your partner.

4. Emotional Connection

The definition to this one is perhaps the most vague. When you have a good emotional connection with someone you’re dancing as one, almost reading each other’s minds. You’re feeling like there’s only the two of you in the room and nobody else. You don’t think about the steps anymore, instead you are creating art together. These are the best dances you’ll remember months or even years later. For non-dancers it might seem like a romantic connection, but it doesn’t have to be.

I don’t think emotional connection can be trainable, it definitely cannot be forced. These dances happen when all stars align – you find someone who matches your vibe, DJ is playing a song you both enjoy etc. It might be that you have this magical dance with someone once, but the second time with the same person isn’t as good. This type of connection is special and rare.

As you can see, the word “connection” is used for something very material and physical like two body parts touching and something as obscure as dancing with someone on the same wavelength as you. Are there any other meanings for connection that I missed? Have you ever had good connection with someone when dancing and how did it feel?

4 thoughts on “Definitions of Connection in Dance”

  1. Hi- this is a great post and i like how you broke down the different types of connection (or even view them as pieces that make up the overall connection). I would also add that physical connection is not just about touching body parts together, but about the underlying tension or compression in the arms, hands, back, etc. and the internal connection of each person to their frame. Another type of connection might be stylistic – having the same dance style and preferences.

    1. Such a great point – style plays a big role as well. Eg if someone likes energetic fast dances they’ll have a better connection with a dancer who also likes it!

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