By HayatiDance Creative collaboration develops and evolves over time. In fact, dancing with others is similar to any romantic relationship, has its ups and downs, times of elation and disappointment and requires constant commitment and love to persist and sustain each partner and make unforgettable moments together.
Much like a love interest, sparks may fly in an instant and so, at the outset, the formation of troupes or duets may seem organic and almost magical. You may admire each other's styles or skills, have plenty to learn from each other or simply be a great fit from a skill set, visual presentation or artistic voice perspective. Somewhat rarely, you may simply enjoy each other's company or have a well-thought out plan for mutual goals you would like to accomplish. The spontaneity of the process results in a “honeymoon period” when ideas seem to fly left and right and be inevitably fabulous. You bask in each others’ creative abilities and ideally each partner’s performance is enhanced by the joint experience.
Unfortunately, just as in relationships, the troupe or duet dynamic is constantly evolving. Priorities, interests, work and life, as well as outside of the studio commitments change over time and shape the new look and feel of each member and ultimately change the whole. As the collaborations undergo multiple marriages, children, new jobs, new (cross)training, members relocating, hip and knee replacements, and the occasional divorce a new face of the collective emerges as each member’s art is ultimately inextricably linked to who they are becoming.
As new members join, or existing members develop, the team goes through a metamorphosis to reconcile the different skills, perspectives, thoughts and movement expressions into its offerings. This is exactly why so many music bands fail - the same lifecycle of team dynamics applies to duets and troupes.
You may already be familiar with Bruce Tuckman’s stages of team development: 1)Forming, 2) Storming, 3) Norming and 4) Performing and the later added 5) Adjourning. Each stage is marked by different observable behaviors as team members get to know each other, struggle to establish leadership and patterns of behavior, come to an agreement on process and dynamics and eventually reach a comfort level stage that allows them to be productive and thrive. Leading a troupe requires recognition of and adjustments to leadership style to accommodate the team’s needs at each development stage and see them through to the next. What seems to be the most common success factor in sustainable teams and troupes is their ability to evolve and support each other through the ongoing changes and navigate the ebbs and flows of the dynamics with an open mind and commitment to each other’s best interest and well being.
Sometimes, a collaboration simply runs its course and reaches the adjourning stage. This may be caused by the leader retiring/leaving or simply by the routine changes if members veer off in very different directions over time. Just as we seek out new mentors and develop new skills, the same applies to the collaborative process as some members seek to grow and expand while others may be perfectly content with their current development level and prefer to not go outside of their comfort zone or seek new challenges. Ultimately it is up to each individual dancer to find the best fit for their dance journey and long term goals, cultivating and curating a work of art which is uniquely them. Of course it is fantastic when the partners are willing to grow and develop together, or nourish and nurture the new direction in which one partner leads, and that is when successful long term collaborations occur - but much the same as in romantic relationships finding those partners is rare so we hold on to and treasure them every day.