I have never worked a
day in my life alone and never
intend to. I work better with
a co-choreographer, especially
one who is strong in all the
things I’m not, so that we
make, together, one great
choreo grapher.
—Michael Bennett
Picking Great
e looked like the perfect partner . . . tall,
muscular, graceful as a gazelle. She recalled
the arduous acrobatic moves in the dance
number that contained her shining moment in Grease.
As Rizzo, the leader of the Pink Ladies, she needed
a dance partner who would help her project a cocky
charisma–the key to her future fame.
They slowly walked through the steps of the long
jitterbug scene at the senior prom—there were lots
of fast turns, showy throws, and flashy footwork.
He seemed to catch on, but . . . she noticed that once
or twice he zigged when she zagged. “Maybe he’ll
settle into his part when the tempo picks up,” she
silently hoped.
Then the stage manager called for
“places” for the prom number. It was
her big scene!
They began okay. But their routine
quickly deteriorated. His stride was
way too short, his turns much too
slow. He seemed to be dancing a fast
waltz, not the frenzied shuffle the
number required. He was winded after
two minutes . . . and there were still
four to go. He almost dropped her dur-
ing a vigorous spin, just as the director
salvaged some of her self-respect by
screaming, “Stop!”
“Why did they choose him for his
face, not his feet?” she moaned to her-
self. “I’ll be in the chorus for the rest
of my career!” They were worse than
mismatched. It was a coalition that
couldn’t be corrected, no matter how
many hours they put into rehearsal.
“I should have known better . . .”
t is possible for two dancers
to have clearly different
strengths and styles and
still perform effectively
together, like the classic
scenes in White Knights
when legendary ballet dancer
Mikhail Baryshnikov and tap
dance great Gregory Hines
teamed up. But if you are in
Do You Have the Capacity
to Be a Great Partner?
Answer these questions candidly and thoughtfully. Your aim is to
audition yourself to get a clear and honest understanding of the talent
you bring to the dance.
What is your passion? Why are you really dancing this dance?
Recall a relationship that brought you joy and fulfillment. What assets
did you bring to that relationship? What did people brag about?
If participants in the relationships of your life were to write your
epitaph, and their goal was to capture the essence of the gifts and
strengths you contribute to important relationships, what might
they say?
When you are a part of a work team, how do you typically
contribute, participate, or engage in it?
What are the positive adjectives your close friends would use to
describe you?
Recall a moment when you gave more than you received. What
impact did that contribution have on others?
What is it about relationships and partnerships that most sparks your
excitement and passion? Your interests and curiosity?
What are the lessons you hope to learn from your next partnership?
What lessons can you help teach?
If your potential partner were looking to you as an example or living
model of some core value or principle, what might they see in you?
How might they be pleasantly surprised?
What one personal virtue are you most enthusiastic about sharing
with your potential partner?

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