Posted 27 October 2010 - 01:00 PM
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.