Partnerships: A Working Relationship

When a partnership has been founded it must be nurtured throughout the season for it to survive. Disconnect can always grow; relationships falter. This must not happen within a Duo. A sour partnership often equates to a sub par performance. Few competitors can dislike the other and still be able to perform and win. Therefore, knowing how to maintain a working relationship is fundamental. These tips will help to create a solid partnership.

Listening Skills

For any of the following advice to work, this one element needs to be present. Partners have to listen to the other. Not hear. Listen. Giving sole attention to what the other is saying and then processing it is elemental. Without being able to listen, partners can truly never be partners. They will merely be two people working somewhat together to perform a cutting from a script.

Support and Trust

If a partner listens, and the other feels they have been heard, then a bond will begin to form. Partners in Duo need to trust one another. This means knowing that they can openly speak, rely on their partner for help/support, or have confidence that they can make suggestions without being teased. If partners do not trust the other than a Duo is ultimately limited.

Communication and Constructive Criticism

If partners hold absolute trust with one another then this next facet of a great working relationship should be easy. Being comfortable with another means that no subject should be taboo. Obviously, the rules of respectful dialogue are required. However, partners should be able to speak about issues pestering their minds. Constructive criticism is an excellent way to improve a Duo. The cliché “no one is perfect” is true. Assuming to be above critique is egotistical and detrimental to a performance. Besides, an opinion is only an opinion. Listen, absorb, use what one will, and move forward. However, do be aware to ALWAYS BE RESPECTFUL. Words cannot be taken back, and phrasing can cause conflict. (If one does suspect an issue is off-limits then it might be best to avoid discussing it…unless this tidbit is harming the Duo’s performance.)

Compromise and Experimentation

Once everything is laid bare then finding solutions begins. Partnerships are founded on compromise. If one person has an idea the other is opposed to, then attempt to locate some common wavelength to work. Remaining open to suggestions is crucial. As well is being open to experimenting and playing around with the piece. Rehearsal is the place to try new concepts. Sometimes a gag that merely works currently can wow when altered. But to find that wow some play is required. Work together to create a performance that both can appreciate and love.


At no point is one performer better than the other. Regardless of what the critiques might say. Rarely will both performers receive exquisite marks from judges at all times. Judges critique and write more negatives/suggestions of improvements than positives; it is inevitable that one performer will be labeled “better” at some point. However, this is not true, and partners need to remember this in order to maintain egos and ward off stress from being “weak.” Take the negative remarks, incorporate the suggestions as much as the Duo can, and continue moving onwards. Work together to try to figure out why those remarks were given, make improvements, and see what the next tournament holds. Remember, if a moment does not work it is because of something between both performers that needs to be adjusted in order to mesh better. Further, no matter what a critique says NEVER should one partner harbor full blame, nor the other place blame for a piece’s shortcomings. A partnership takes two. It is not a one person show.

Distinguish Between Work and Play

Rehearsal and performance time is for what can be described as playful work, not full-blown play. Basically, even if partners are friends, Duo time is reserved for working (granted fun work) on the piece. Some goofing around should occur to keep sanity and leave rehearsal fun--but with limits. Work needs to get accomplished. That simple. Also, it should be noted that whatever happens or is said in Duo rehearsal is not meant personally. A crucial understanding of partnership dynamics is to constantly acknowledge that nothing is personal unless it is made so. Certainly there are boundaries to what can be said/done, but usually things are intended for piece enhancement. Thus, when discussions get heated state personal assessments, compromise, and progress forward. Even if arguments erupt, leave problems at rehearsal and remind oneself that the argument was not meant personally. If partners cannot forgive the other than there is little hope for having a stable working relationship.

A great performance derives from an even greater partnership. This advice should be used to facilitate being able to work with a partner. Although, it must be stated that every partnership is special and founded on its own principles; often variations and adjustments to these guidelines. Therefore, develop a set of rules and expectations for a partnership surrounding these core ideas. Doing so will allow for partners to know how to handle working as a team while executing a piece’s performance--a task of duality that requires attention and drive. But it is a fulfilling task that is a major component of piece success.