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What Makes A Dancer A Great Partner (Male&Female)

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And then, there are the men who are NOT particularly good partners. I came across this exchange between Larissa Lezhnina and Marc Haegeman in a DanceViewTimes interview linked on another thread.

MH: Who was your favorite partner? I've put a key phrase in boldface. Lezhnina: That's very hard to say. I must say that Ruzimatov wasn't the best partner. Still he did something. [laughing] Almost everyone in the ballet world knows that he's not a good partner.

MH: Why not?

Lezhnina: Because Ruzimatov is a natural dancer, but not a natural partner. It's not easy to explain. Partnering should be natural. He just doesn't feel where a partner should be.

Conversely, I suppose a good partner DOES feel where his partner should be (which I take to men: where she is, where she needs to go, what she should look like during the transition).

You read, in reviews of school performances by School of American Ballet, for example, of certain young men already having very advanced partnering skills. Is this, as Lezhnina seems to think and many of us assume, a natural gift that you either have or don't have? Is it possible to develop partnering excellence via training and experience?

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And then, there are the men who are NOT particularly good partners. I came across this exchange between Larissa Lezhnina and Marc Haegeman in a DanceViewTimes interview linked on another thread.

MH: Who was your favorite partner? I've put a key phrase in boldface. Lezhnina: That's very hard to say. I must say that Ruzimatov wasn't the best partner. Still he did something. [laughing] Almost everyone in the ballet world knows that he's not a good partner.

MH: Why not?

Lezhnina: Because Ruzimatov is a natural dancer, but not a natural partner. It's not easy to explain. Partnering should be natural. He just doesn't feel where a partner should be.

Conversely, I suppose a good partner DOES feel where his partner should be (which I take to men: where she is, where she needs to go, what she should look like during the transition).

You read, in reviews of school performances by School of American Ballet, for example, of certain young men already having very advanced partnering skills. Is this, as Lezhnina seems to think and many of us assume, a natural gift that you either have or don't have? Is it possible to develop partnering excellence via training and experience?

I can relate to Ruzimatov not being a very good partner, he always seemed to me to give the impression his performance came first, His style of dance was very exaggerated, and flamboyant, which kind of left the impression he was the most important dancer on the stage. and his partner came second.

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Vasiliev, even on film, was a magnificent partner, especially with Maximova.

Their Don Q pas de deux was virtually unsurpassable (especially on the occasions, though I've only seen it on film, when Maximova whipped off 32 fouettes with her hands on her waist the ENTIRE TIME...! Talk about core strength!), and Vasiliev gave the impression of endless strength and capacity--almost like Ludlow.

Two NYCB imports who are rarely given anything like enough credit either as brilliant soloists or as sympathetic and subtle partners were Helgi Tomasson and Ib Andersen. Kirkland has many times rhapsodized in print over Tomasson's grace and elegance in partnering, and Andersen was wonderful with everyone from Farrell and Ashley to Mazzo and Hlinka (from tallest to shortest).

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Andersen was wonderful with everyone from Farrell and Ashley to Mazzo and Hlinka (from tallest to shortest).

Yes. I saw him do 'Mozartiana' with Farrell and later 'Valse Triste' with McBride. As well as many other times as well, but those I remember best. He had this very understated sensuality.

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Andersen was wonderful with everyone from Farrell and Ashley to Mazzo and Hlinka (from tallest to shortest).

Yes. I saw him do 'Mozartiana' with Farrell and later 'Valse Triste' with McBride. As well as many other times as well, but those I remember best. He had this very understated sensuality.

I remember being captivated by him in "Opus 19/The Dreamer" with Saland during the Robbins Festival.

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I also realize that a ballerina can make things easier for her partner if she does certain things, like push off to help with a lift.

Who are great partners of the past or present? If anyone can enlighten me on the female side, please do!!!

I've read in long ago interviews with a couple of her partners that said that one ballerina that was not easy to partner was Markova. She was very reluctant to give that little "push off" keeping the illusion for herself of weighlessness.

Apparently Gelsey Kirkland was the same way. I remember La Fosse saying as much in his book.

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I've read in long ago interviews with a couple of her partners that said that one ballerina that was not easy to partner was Markova. She was very reluctant to give that little "push off" keeping the illusion for herself of weightlessness.

Frederick Franklin has referred to this particular too...(didn't also Zoritch in the Ballet Russes documentary..?)

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How odd. I've heard AC say many times, "don't jump" to his ballerinas before doing lifts, "just plie, and I'll lift you up." So they do, and he does.

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How odd. I've heard AC say many times, "don't jump" to his ballerinas before doing lifts, "just plie, and I'll lift you up." So they do, and he does.

Yes.....wry smile. Apparently AC is a rarity in this among men: Markova and Kirkland, among other famous ballerinas, contended in print that jumping 'ruined' the fluidity of a passage, while Franklin, La Fosse, and many other principal men have said that women who won't jump are like a ton of bricks to lift. La Fosse says Cynthia Gregory, probably the biggest-size ballerina of her period, was a breeze because she really jumped for every lift.

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One's estimation of "good" or "not so good" partners when lifting seems to depend on the intentions of the choreographer, among other things.

From Suki Schorer on Balanchine Technique, the section on "Lifts":

Crucial elements of Balanchine technique in lifts are as follows:

-- coordination and timing;

-- men: strength of arms, upper torso, abs, lower back, thighs (Jock Soto included push-ups and sit-ups in his classes for boys) -- plie is critical;

-- women: "need strong upper bodies so they can hold themselves together to sustain supported positions on pointe as well as in the air."

Questions of TIMING are crucial depending on wheether the choreography calls for quickly up and quickly down -- or slowly up and slowly down -- or quickly up and quickly down.

-- "quickly down" is the most difficult and is especially important for allegro dancing: "The man needs to convey the sense that the woman is being brought down by him, rather than simply responding to gravity. He must learn to sense the moment of suspension at the top of the lift, before she begins to fall, and to take her down quickly to the floor.. This skill is needed for allegro partnering and is roughly analogous to jumping down to the floor."

-- "The most important thing is to be on time."

-- wait 'til the last possible moment to place the hands on the woman --

-- "In a carry lift, Balanchine did not watn the man to hover with both hands on the woman before he was needed. Instead, he wanted as usual for the man to give her space and often to place the first hand on her back on the glissade or step and the second hand just before or just as she starts to push off."

-- "In traveling lifts, the man often works to enhance the illusion that the woman has traveled farther than she has. For example, in a grand jete or pas de chat carry lift, the man needs to learn to pick her up from one side of his body, carry her across the front of his body, and set her down on his other side."

Schorer refers to the specific challenges of ballets like The Four T's, Serenade, Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux, Symphony in C, etc.., in which the woman changes position in the air."

-- at the end, the man cushions the woman's landing by using plie.

The photo illustrations are of Wendy Whelan and Jock Soto, a "great" partnership in the Balanchine rep, in most people's estimation.

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