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Crain’s Cleveland Business - Your Work, Your Life

September 25, 2006

Your Work, Your Life



The doctor of dance
Clinic urologist draws parallels between tango, life

By Sherry Gavanditti

Business is a dance between two parties that requires trust, vulnerability and leadership. It’s like two partners performing the steamy, sultry tango.

So says Dr. Jeannette Potts, a medical urologist at The Cleveland Clinic who by day focuses on her patients. But when the white coat comes off, black high heels and a sleek, sexy dress help transform the physician into “Dr. Tango,” the dancer, poet, writer and alter ego of Dr. Potts.

It’s as Dr. Tango that the 45-year-old Cleveland native stresses how chemistry and intuition not only are imperative for a smooth tango, but also are concepts that can serve as a guide for both business and life.

Dr. Potts performs as Dr. Tango with partners throughout the United States and abroad, using dance as a springboard for promoting wellness of body and mind.

“People have to ask themselves what in life could be their tango, what gives them joy,” said Dr. Potts of the connection between life and the tango.

In 2004, Dr. Potts formed Dr. Tango LLC. It’s through this company that she conducts executive and institutional retreats focusing on improved productivity and emotional and physical wellness. She speaks and dances at a variety of corporate seminars and events, such as a recent appearance for Cleveland’s Sparx in the City initiative.

And Dr. Potts said her dance-inspired life philosophies work.

“If an individual is happy and fulfilled, they are a better partner,” she said. “It’s a metaphor of tango. When you have your own axis and you are strong, you are easier to lead; those who are clingy and not straight and don’t have a good core will weigh a lot more in a relationship.”

According to Sherry Greenleaf, president of Impact Training and Development in Westlake, Dr. Potts draws people in with her personality.

Ms. Greenleaf is a registered corporate coach, and through her company, trains people in a registered corporate coach program sponsored through the Worldwide Association of Business Coaches.

“She’s all about how to be the best you can be in your life. You feel drawn to Jeannette,” Ms. Greenleaf said. “It’s how she combines her words with her passion, her dancing. It just works — you really want to step up and be a better leader.”

From dancer to doctor

As a child, Dr. Potts loved to dance with family members and friends. In her teens and 20s, she was dancing at clubs and falling in love with many types of dancing.

And while the tango is an impressively bold dance, Dr. Potts said she wasn’t always confident publicly performing — or talking about — her tango. Indeed, as a doctor who treats primarily male patients, she had reservations about revealing her tango side.

“I thought, what if someone thinks I’m a wild, bohemian woman? I didn’t want to make people feel more uncomfortable,” Dr. Potts said. “It’s frightening enough to go to the hospital or clinic wondering if you have a serious medical condition or not; then there’s the added obstacle of being timid or embarrassed, but these men really surrender to the care of their doctor. I don’t have to hide who I am and there’s a very strong mutual trust and respect.”

While always a dancer, Dr. Potts said she didn’t plan on being a doctor when she graduated in 1983 with a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from Lake Erie College for Women.

After graduation, she went on to study French at the Universite de Caen Basse-Normandie in Normandy, France, and conducted independent research at the Generalitat de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain.

She also spent time in Guanajuato, Mexico, studying anthropology, and worked as an exporter of automotive parts and heavy-duty equipment in Latin America.

But in 1985, she applied to the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, and attended school from 1987 to 1991.

After a residency at Grant Medical Center in Columbus and training at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland, Dr. Potts completed a fellowship in medical urology at The Cleveland Clinic, where she has practiced for the past 12 years. She specializes in infectious disease, prostatitis and chronic genital pain syndromes in men, and she has authored several publications on these disorders.

Dr. Potts also has put pen to paper to deliver her message of the tango’s applications in everyday experiences. She has written “Tango: Lessons For Life,” said Nicki Artese of Artese Communications in Cleveland. The book, which began as a personal journal, is a collection of short stories, reflections on life and dance and self-observations.

The Cleveland Clinic Press is scheduled to publish the book early next year.
Dr. Tango Dances
Dr. Tango (aka Dr. Jeannette Potts) and partner David Palmer dance the tango on West 6th Street as part of Sparx in the City.
Photo credit: RUGGERO FATICA 
What is business but a dance between two companies?
What is life but a dance between people?
— Jeannette Potts, M.D. - Dr. Tango
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