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Partner Dancing: does it matter who the partner is?

I’ve danced with some pretty interesting characters in my time and have pinpointed some characteristics in my favorite leads. Having the right partner can make or break a dance, and no one wants to dance with a bad partner for a full song of salsa, which can last up to five or six minutes.

A good lead has a strong, confident frame and mixes up their footwork throughout the dance. Even if the leader doesn’t know a lot of spins or fancy moves, you can still have a great dance if they lead you around the floor with confidence and grace.

All this being said, does gender matter when it comes to a good lead? One recent controversy in the world of ballroom dancing is the sexual orientation of some of the contestants on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars. Although DWTS has seen several gay and lesbian cast members, author and activist Chaz Bono is the first transgender contestant the show has ever had.

Chaz Bono and his professional dance partner Lacey Schwimmer

I would say that generally, women in the ballroom world would dance more often with men than they do with other women. However, I’m not really sure what that says about the transgender community in the ballroom world. Do the transgender and ballroom communities even overlap enough for this to be an issue?

This article about the UK’s Dancing with the Stars look-a-like, Strictly Come Dancing, describes the contestants’ attitudes and opinions about gender roles in dancing. One interesting point they make is that women tend to view men who ballroom dance as “ideal” and a “rarity.”

Bono’s sub-par dance abilities and lack of viewer votes caused his eventual departure from the show on October 25, but his presence definitely caused some controversy and reevaulation of the present gender roles in the world of ballroom dancing today.


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