Strategy as dance

Think of strategy as a dance. Bodies travel in space. You join them, move with intent, find your place in the shifting whirl.

Sometimes you’ll move at pace. At others you’ll linger, or slow to a standstill. But even when you hold fast, it’s by your choice; no one else can move for you.

Strategy is a dance, choreographed or improvised. You can follow the numbered footsteps from a manual or take a class with a pro or read your next move in the stance or the glance of the person opposite you, and that tingling unspoken sense of where things could go next…where you should go next…there.

Strategy is a dance: couples holding one another tight after hours, or a Busby Berkeley spectacular. Sometimes your moves are for show, and what matters is that they’re witnessed; at others, the pleasures and rewards are solely your own. The spotlight has its value, if you understand its uses, and its limits.

Strategy is a dance: you train and stretch and build strength to execute it to the best of your ability. You learn when pain is a sign to be registered or ignored, and how to dance through it when you must. Your body is your instrument, but it’s not all there is. Much magic happens in the wings, in the work of costumiers and technicians, and the designers of lighting and sets.

The music you dance to may be your choice, or may be pressed upon you. You must find a way to move with it that makes sense to those who matter, those to whom the dance makes a difference.

Choreography is the art of designing movements. Great strategy serves not just one dancer, but rewards the troupe, the audience, everyone it touches.

Strategy is a dance. You can record it, describe it, emulate or adapt it. It ends when the music does, yet can be reconstructed forever, “as long as there are willing bodies to project the movement.”

It can happen on Broadway or in a back alley or bedroom. It’s a big production, with a soaring budget, or it’s the slightest shuffle, a tiny offer of deliberate grace, as we pass one another on the sidewalk. It can be the preserve of the elite, something aloof and mysterious to those of us in the cheap seats, or the most open embrace, beckoning others into the sweat and sway of the dancefloor.

Strategy is a dance: exertion, effort, rest. Sometimes you’ll carry another, or be carried by others in turn. You learn to use gravity, momentum, leverage to make the most of your strength.

Sometimes you’ll pause – stepping back, taking stock, watching others, listening for shifts in the beat – but never for long. The music will beckon again. It always does. The beat is your heart, your breath, it is life.

And strategy is your dance.

The quotation “as long as there are bodies to project the movement” is from Twyla Tharp.

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