Ballet Partnering Techniques for Business Partnering Success

pexels-photo-209948.jpegMalone University

April 4, 2018 |FOLLOWERSHIP

Ballet Partnering Techniques for Business Partnering Success

Leadership training has been championed as a key for personal success; learning to be a dynamic follower proves vital to organizational success. Followership is a remarkable concept. Essential followership techniques are emphasized in the methodological process of teaching ballet dancers to partner together.  Dancers are taught to generate frames, use improvisation, and to become experts in core focusing. These follower concepts require intense composure and connections with leaders.  The following lessons from the dance arena will help leaders engage team members in creating trust, demonstrating decision advocating, and developing intuition for strong personal and organizational partnering.

Framing for Trust

When teaching partnering to ballet dancers, the first lesson is to define the role of the leader and follower.  This moment in the classroom establishes who will be observing and who will be interpreting the signals of the movements first.  The initial dance leader generates a frame for creating trust.  The dancers are asked to be congruent when accomplishing the next several assignments and the frame is set to aid the team in creating motion past the simple definition of delegation. Both leader and follower work within the framed role to accomplish all tasks in synchronicity.  The follower learns to trust that the leader will set a reasonable tempo and the leader develops trust that the follower has a clear interpretation of the circumstances.

In Teresa Byinton’s (2010) research on mentoring relationships she clarifies that “creating a relationship of trust, clearly defining roles and responsibilities, establishing short- and long-term goals” is extremely effective for mentoring (p. 3). The individual innovation propensity of team members decreases when followers feel ambiguous about their role and responsibilities according to De Clercq and Belausteguigoitia (2017).  Leaders who to take the step of framing roles and responsibilities will help followers trust their pioneering ideas have a place in the business.

When lesson one is complete there is understanding of leader, follower, and specific responsibilities. A conversation has taken place that helps followers know the leader is interested in their interpretation and capabilities. Dancers are taught to generate frames because they are expected to be balanced, composed and synchronized.  Leaders can implement the usage of framing to clarify vision and timing for organizational success.  This will develop trust by revealing to followers that the leader is in-synch and that signal interpretations are accurate.

Improvisation for Decisions

Team imbalances are a natural part of organizational change. Followership offers the suggestion that leaders value this divergence and leverage with their followers for balance to be restored during decision-making. Dancers learn to use improvisation because it demonstrates decision advocating.  When the ballet leader and follower begin moving with seemingly vague movements, an opportunity for advocacy begins. The follower is taught to build on what they are given, and the leader is taught to respond by validating the movement and enhancing it with another.  Both ballet dancers are coached to remain composed as performers during the improvisation.  This technique and composition from team members in the business world allows organizational solutions to emerge which aids the decision-making process.

In an interview with the groundbreaking choreographer for Batsheva Dance Company in Israel, Ohad Naharin explains that the relationship with his dance technique and improvisation is reciprocal (Galili, 2015). The dancers’ improvisation plays an indispensable part in determining the decision of the production. Additional research on Naharin’s technique for partnering reveals, the dance “practitioner exercises individual agency in the attunement process of interpreting instructions and responding intentionally” (Melpignano, 2017, p. 113).

The proximity of ballet dance partners is customarily more kinesthetic and intimate than business leaders and followers; however, the illustration of ballet partnering from lesson two, learning improvisation for decision advocating–is virtuous for balancing the terrain of organizational change.  Followers who build on what they are given and leaders who respond with enrichments find better solutions.  Improvisation broadens the spectrum for decision-making.

Core Focus for Intuition

Advance usage of focus is key for dancers and business leaders. Several specific tasks involving the mission and duties of an organization will occur at once.  This requires intuitive synchronicity to keep followers focused and moving toward the vision and mission. Dancers learn to use a core focus for developing intuition. The third lesson in ballet partnering includes instructing the dancer to develop this core focus ability by horizonally focusing through their partner while maintaining an awareness of the partner’s core muscles of the abdomen and pelvis.  When the leader shifts his weight with the core muscle groups, it is a sign that he has committed to the movement direction. The follower then has the indicator she needs to implement the directive.

Hurwitz and Hurwitz (2015) imply that the partnering relationship has palpable consequences on how all actions are carried out.  They go on to explain “the core” suggests behavioral norms and strategy in addition to common core values and organizational vision (Hurwitz & Hurwitz, 2015, p. 194).  In an essay about viewing art, Pau Pedragosa explains, while talking about cubism, that a core focus of the eyes horizonally can offer “multiple perspectives on common space and shared time” (Pedragosa, 2014, p. 747). When dancers look beyond the tactile movements of the limbs and focus on the abdominal core they can see the leader’s indicators.

Once the third lesson in ballet partnering is learned, the process replicates through repetitive practice and leader-follower intuition is developed.  Leaders who introduce the tool of using a core focus for developing intuition will experience the accuracy of followers’ subsequent instinct. They can alter their path and followers will recognize what comportment leaders are promoting.


The view of relying on leaders to accomplish organizational success by scientifically delegating and tracking the tasks of company employees is heading for extinction. Followership is a “we generation” concept and it is happening now (Hurwitz & Hurwitz, 2015, p. 4).  Endorsing and training followership behaviors will kindle the personal, professional, and organizational success every leader seeks. Because ballet dancers are strong partners, their followership techniques of framing, improvisation, and using a core focus will also benefit businesses. Following ballet partnering prompts will help all leaders create trust, demonstrate decision advocating, and develop intuition with followers.  The result will be partnering success.


Byington, T. (2010). Keys to successful mentoring relationships. Journal of Extension48(6).

De Clercq, D., & Belausteguigoitia, I. (2017). Reducing the harmful effect of role ambiguity on turnover intentions. Personnel Review46(6), 1046-1069.

Galili, D. F. (2015). Gaga: Moving beyond technique with Ohad Naharin in the twenty-first century. Dance Chronicle38(3), 360-392.

Hurwitz, M. & Hurwitz, S. (2015). Leadership is Half the Story. Toronto, CN: University of Toronto Press.

Melpignano, M. (2017). Embodied philosophy in dance: Gaga and Ohad Naharin’s movement research. Dance Research Journal49(2), 112-114.

O’Conaill, D. (2013). On being motivated. Phenomenology and The Cognitive Sciences12(4), 579-595.

Pedragosa, P. (2014). Multiple horizons: phenomenology, cubism, architecture. European Legacy19(6), 747.



Your desire to change must be greater than your desire to stay the same.

Movement Helps Learning

What a fun concept!  I can dance to learn about shapes moving in space.  Idownloadwer can measure them and remember them!  The formulas become easy for me as I memorize the movements!

Give me a call if you’d like to have a 1 day workshop for your students to learn test taking strategies through MOVEMENT!!!

Like “Miracle-Gro for the Brain”

Exercise may have both a physiological and developmental impact on children’s brains. Physical mechanisms include:

  • Increased oxygen to the brain that may enhance its ability to learn

  • Alterations to neurotransmitters

  • Structural changes in the central nervous system

Check out this supporting article! 

Now booking for Moving to Math & Science for 2016-2017.

Movement is the KEY.

“In order for children to learn, they need to be able to pay attention. In order to pay attention, we need to let them move.” Angela Hanscom

As students listen to the guest artist begin they begin to fidget.  Some students are shushed and other students roll their eyes.  The teachers want the kids to be respectful and sophisticated enough for the main message to come through.  As the students realize that the guest artist is sharing about movement…they pine for more opportunity to join in.  At last some are invited to stand up and wiggle or wave a scarf.  The elephant in the room is ~ WHY HAVEN’T WE ALL BEEN MOVING all along?

Talk therapy, monologues of lessons, car rides daily, entertainment, and homework are all normal activities.  They occur without us calculating the amount of time we spend on them.  In the past few years I’ve encouraged my kids to identify when they are leveraging their bodies or standing with muscular strength.  Because we have become a society of people who sit or stand still for a long period of time we have lost our body’s wisdom.  I’m writing about the somatic wisdom that naturally occurs when we are moving and working with our body.   It is possible to tilt and lean each bone to leverage the body into balance.  When this happens we’re no longer using our muscles.  They weaken and atrophy to the point of mush.  The result is forgotten wisdom. This is a lesson that I often find myself teaching during a personal training session.  YET!! I hadn’t thought about the activity of leveraging and propping students up at their desks to keep them attuned with the words.

Moving with academics is extremely simple to introduce to your class.  Simple warm-up exercises from a fitness video can stimulate childrens’ body, mind, and spirit.  In order to kindle an excitement in any classroom; I’ve created a short list of activities that will help children, parents, teachers, and all students.


  • Teach yourself and your students to distribute their weight.  Begin in a seated or standing position and practice lifting a bone with the power of the muscle group under it.  For example: Lift the head off the neck.  Lift the arms off the chest.  Lift the tummy off the hips.
  • Take a dance break. Allow yourself and your students channel their inner Napoleon Dynamite.  Nearly every movie is accented with a freestyle dance break.  Let your credits roll and “move it move it” or “minion groove” to My Life.
  • Turn up the creative station. Ask yourself and your students….if I needed to teach this lesson without the use of my voice or any reading…how would I get the message across?  Stand up those students and ask them too.  They will know vertical, horizontal, and perpendicular very quickly if you let them figure out how to show it.

If you would like to turn up the creativity on your own I suggest testing yourself.  Are you leveraging your way through life or are you standing firm in your body, mind, and spirit?  If you would like to see how other great minds, like yours, are figuring this out; check out Science Magazine’s contest, Dance your PhD and the Washington Post article, Why so many kids can’t sit still.

A guest artist is a wonderful place to begin.  There are wonderful dance and physical education standards established for our young people.  Another wonderful task is to adhere to the suggested dosage of exercise recommended by our doctors.  The American College of Sports Medicine recommends at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular movement three times a week. Any attempt to move will give your life a little something worth fighting for.  I invite you to move more and consistently everyday!

What Matters Most to our Children

December 29 by

What do you think matters most to your children? You driving them to lessons and practices, or is it the smile and hug you greet them with after school? If you guessed the latter, you are correct.

Sixteen years of teaching and giving the same assignment every Mother’s Day has led me to the exact same conclusion. You see, every Mother’s Day I would ask my students to give me advice on being a mother. They were to think about things their mother or guardian did for or with them that made them feel happy or loved. The classroom would go silent as the students wrote intensely for longer than they had ever written before. Often smiles would appear on their faces as they reflected on the happy experiences they were remembering. After reading their responses I would add to my list all the ideas they mentioned. Surprisingly, many of the responses were the same. Year after year, in every country I taught, and in every type of demographic, the students were saying the same things and had the same message: It’s the small things that their mothers did that meant the most and that they remembered.

Many moms today feel as if they are not good mothers unless they are racing around, shuttling their children from lessons, to practices and back to lessons again. I’ve had mothers tell me that they want to give their children every opportunity they did not have. While this thinking might bring the mother some comfort, it really does not do the same for their child who is potentially feeling overextended, stressed and tired.

After speaking endlessly about this topic with my students, it became clear to me that children today are involved in too many activities and are in turn becoming less in touch with themselves and their families. In addition, my students told me they really wished for more time to “just play”. Of course many of them enjoy their extra curricular activities, but it is not necessary they said to be allowed to do everything. What they enjoyed most, and what made their hearts happiest was when their mothers did simple things for or with them.

Here is a list of the top ten things students around the world said they remembered and loved most about their mothers.

  1. Come into my bedroom at night, tuck me in and sing me a song. Also tell me stories about when you were little.
  2. Give me hugs and kisses and sit and talk with me privately.
  3. Spend quality time just with me, not with my brothers and sisters around.
  4. Give me nutritious food so I can grow up healthy.
  5. At dinner talk about what we could do together on the weekend.
  6. At night talk to me about about anything; love, school, family etc.
  7. Let me play outside a lot.
  8. Cuddle under a blanket and watch our favorite TV show together.
  9. Discipline me. It makes me feel like you care.
  10. Leave special messages in my desk or lunch bag.

Children are incredibly wise and tend to see the world more simply than we do. Perhaps it is time we start taking their advice. Maybe we would all feel a little less stressed and be satisfied with the fact that doing little things really is… good enough.

Educating through DANCE demonstrations this month!

If you have ever wondered…”HOW does Kimberly teach ‘THAT’ through dance”…May is the month for you.  There will be 3 opportunities for you to experience my teaching techniques in the classroom.

Wednesday May 16th at 12:20pm at Portage Collaborative Elementary School there will be a Character in Motion Workshop.

Friday May 18th at 2:30pm at Middlebranch Elementary School there will be a Metomorphosis Demostration.

Tuesday May22nd at 11:00am and 1:30pm at The Arts Academy at Summit there will be a Moving to Math Demonstration.

Come see the students SHINE!  Join us for any of the unique experiences with dance.  You will be glad you did!


A Day in the Life of a Dance Teaching Artist

It is always an amazing sight to see new students ‘get it’.  There is a moment during class when a young person realizes – they can do lots more than they’ve given themselves credit for.  What a joy it is to be part of this.

Arts integration is a term applied to an approach to teaching and learning that uses the fine and performing arts as primary pathways to learning. Arts integration differs from traditional arts education by its inclusion of both an arts discipline and a traditional subject as part of learning (e.g. using improvisational drama skills to learn about conflict in writing.) The goal of arts integration is to increase knowledge of a general subject area while concurrently fostering a greater understanding and appreciation of the fine and performing arts.

8:00am     Character in Motion Class with 3rd graders at PCMS

9:00am     Moving to Math Class with 4th graders at PCMS

1:30pm     Moving to Math with 4th graders at Minerva Elementary School

6:30pm     Modern Dance Technique with Dance Club at Malone University

86 Miles Traveled

59 Students Inspired

21,240 Mets of Energy Spent

1 Bleeding Floor Burn (with a smile)

*One MET is defined as the energy expenditure for sitting quietly, which, for the average adult, approximates 3.5 ml of oxygen uptake per kilogram of body weight per minute (1.2 kcal/min for a 70-kg individual). For example, a 2-MET activity requires two times the metabolic energy expenditure of sitting quietly.