innopac

Partnering skills

56 posts in this topic

I didn't see a hernias happen, but twice I saw a danseur get injured (back and neck) when the ballerina in the overhead lift, tipped. She was saved, no headfirst crashes, but at his expense. Any male danseurs care to comment how to save oneself (or one's partner) from such disasters?

Just a note: One of the most memorable "partnerships" I saw this past year was when Angel Corella and ABT Ballet Mistress & Repetiteur Susan Jones demonstrated pdds from La Bayadere for his company. She was so graceful, and he was so attentive, that despite the differences in age and technique, and consequently, the lack of pointe shoes, tutus, or lifts, turns, or other major physical displays, it was truly beautiful watching them move together. I kept thinking how transcendent ballet is; to convey so much, despite those missing elements.

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I didn't see a hernias happen, but twice I saw a danseur get injured (back and neck) when the ballerina in the overhead lift, tipped. She was saved, no headfirst crashes, but at his expense. Any male danseurs care to comment how to save oneself (or one's partner) from such disasters?

In pairs figure skating, if the woman goes down in a lift, the man is supposed to break her fall with himself. Is the same true in ballet?

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That's generally what happens, although I've never heard anybody cite a "rule" about it, apart from the aforementioned, "If you drop her, I'll KILL you!" :)

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Here's a question about the fishdives, probably the biggest audience pleaser among partnering tricks. :jawdrop::toot:

How tricky/dangerous are they? How do dancers (male and female) tend to feel about them and approach doing them?

I watched dozens during the past Nutcracker season and THINK I can visualize and have an understanding of the basic mechanics. Though complicated and difficult to do smoothly and on the beat, they now seem to me to be less daring or risky than the overhead or shoulder lifts that have been discussed above.

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Oh, fish dives are easy. The only problem I've heard about is the final one in the Sleeping Beauty Act III pas de deux, where female dancers have broken ribs because of having to fall into that 'arched' position after being lifted up high. Otherwise, they are a piece of cake. The only thing that annoys me is when the man holds the woman's leg from underneath when it isn't necessary. It's easier but uglier.

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There are some lifts that are dangerous if the partner isn't attentive.

I had a teacher whose performing career was ended early because a partner wasn't ready to catch her.

Perhaps these are called catches not lifts? I wonder.

Mel, were you with the Joffrey at the time of the Green Table filming for Dance in America (she was in traction at the time). Do you know who I'm talking about?

(I'm thinking if you do, you might know the lift in question)

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The ones out of the pirouettes can be tricky, and many students find them terrifying because the floor comes up on your nose SO FAST! But as a rule, the "fish" is one of the easier catch-lifts in the choreographic ammunition box. And I certainly agree about the hold from underneath.

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>"You should be able to do this without him!

>Forget he's there! Don't depend on him, depend

>on yourself!"

Depends on the pas de deux / ballet.

And, definitely, a good partnership depends on trust, strength, and good communication.

Jumping into a lift with a guy is timed very differently than if a ballerina would be jumping it herself. Too slow, too deep a plie and you'd be a ton of bricks to lift. Too quick, too soon a prep (plie) and the partner could not support you properly, he probably would miss your fast jump entirely until you've gotten yourself partly in the air, but not fully.

Turns. Some need a solid, hands-on, eg, finger turns (arm above head) as do executing many multiples (eg, Mr. B's Nutcracker pas female ends in a backbend while still in passe, and most of the famous, big pas deux partnered turns where the ballerinas does more than 3 or 4 turns).

Fish dives can be very dangerous if done from an air lift (eg, DonQ) from an arabesque above the guy's head flipping into one or two tours with legs together into the guy's arms and onto his supporting bent leg (into the fish). I haven't seen a pair do double tours lately, and I suspect that's because they are deadly if miscalculated, breaking a rib or two at the least. But when it works, it's a very exciting addition.

The best partners I've danced with have all been very strong (physically) and very experienced in partnering skills. It takes time and fine training, as with everything else.

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Mel, were you with the Joffrey at the time of the Green Table filming for Dance in America (she was in traction at the time). Do you know who I'm talking about?

(I'm thinking if you do, you might know the lift in question)

I think I know who you mean. That was a drop from an overhead lift to a longe in 4th position in "Remembrances". Both dancers got hurt on that. The man went into a state of diminishing returns after that, and he also finally had to end his stage career. And I think catches count as lifts, it's just a closer description.

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Yikes... I never knew realized anything happened to the male partner... miscommunication is a terrible thing... though I had been under the impression it was some sort of running leap was involved.... perhaps he was caught unawares and attempted too late to pull it off...

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This continues to be a fascinating thread. I'm printing out a number of the posts so that I can refer to them before going to watch Don Quixote, my next big ballet.

I'll also be looking more at supported turns. Thanks, sz, for the following:

Turns. Some need a solid, hands-on, eg, finger turns (arm above head) as do executing many multiples (eg, Mr. B's Nutcracker pas female ends in a backbend while still in passe, and most of the famous, big pas deux partnered turns where the ballerinas does more than 3 or 4 turns).

As with lifts, the best turns are those where the mechanics of support are invisible. Finger turns are a kind of miracle and are my personal favorite.

Multiple pirouettes with the man supporting his partner at the waist and apparently doing the spinning for her are dramatic. But, for some reason, it's precisely in these that some men show the most stress: sometimes biting their lips, furrowing their brows, and staring downward, in a kind of panic, at the lady's mid-section. The ballerina, meanwhile, has the burden of having to distract the audience from all of this by looking especially serene and confident. :)

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Finger turns are 98% her :) As the guy, basically, you've just got your finger up there slightly forward of her axis so you're giving her something to hold on to and not throwing her back. You also hope you are tall enough, or at least have arms long enough to stand far enough away from her not to get her knee in retiré in your crotch. :)

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>Finger turns are 98% her

The ballerina controls how much momentum is used, but the guy maintains the momentum, controls the balance of the turn, and the ending of it especially when multiple turns are done. He doesn't crank her around during the turns, unless a problem arises, but without the proper alignment and momentum, the ballerina could not execute these turns by herself.

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There are some comments about ballet partnering vs. Broadway partnering in this Robert Johnson article on NJ Ballet about a piece Patti Columbo is working on with them

http://www.nj.com/entertainment/arts/index..._guarantee.html

"In New Jersey Ballet, the men are such good partners," Colombo says. "Their partnering techniques are way better than most Broadway people, because they're used to dead-pressing girls. But for a guy to let a girl flip out of his hands is not a natural feeling for anybody in the ballet world. You're thinking, 'Oh, my God I'm going to drop the girl.' So that's been really interesting for them."

The ballerinas, too, felt their interest spike as they went catapulting over their partners' heads. "They just scream, basically," Colombo says. But that's OK, she says, because they're still in character for the scene. "Screaming is encouraged," Colombo says.

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The biggest secret a great female partner has is knowing how to allow the man to do his job. (Trickier than it sounds!)

I got a sense of what you meant by this when watching the second half of the Bussell documentary on classicaltv.com. There is a segment where Bussell is rehearsing with Zelensky and things don't go right.

What struck me was that good partnering skills must include the ability to intelligently resolve conflict quickly within stressful situations with people you may not know very well. I would imagine that during lifts the ballerina would need to accommodate the man more than she might normally be use to doing.

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I would imagine that during lifts the ballerina would need to accommodate the man more than she might normally be use to doing.

It's funny that you mention this. While a number of men have talked about how some ballerinas, including some tiny ballerinas, don't help during the lifts and expect to be lifted like dead weight, there was a story in Joseph Mazo's "Dance as a Contact Sport" where Melissa Hayden was trying too hard to help Jacques d'Amboise in a lift where she lands on his shoulder in "Cortege Hongrois". He told her to just let him to it (of course, assuming she would do her normal preparation), and after she did, she flew up on his shoulder, like she had done for years.

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:blushing: Imagine the situation when a dancer from another company helps out due to injury, This was in the Royal Ballet touring company, during a run of Fille mal gardee. Every male member cast for Colas was ill or injured, they went down lierally like flies. To help out, The Royal Danish Ballet Company was approached, and they sent a guy by plane to stand in for the performances. With much relief all went well. The story even made the local press.

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This thread has brought back so many memories from my early partnering classes!

I remember my teachers always talking so much about trust between partners. One teacher always stressing to the boys that they must absolutely never let their partner fall to the ground and that if they drop a girl that their own body "better be between her and the floor!". In exchange we (the girls) were to trust our partners and that that they would catch us, lift us, turn us etc... We were to jump fully and hold our position, when appropriate, because in not doing so we could injure our male counterparts.

As a female I love the trade off of myself leading, and then my partner leading. I may have to initiate the movement, such as a pique to arabesque, but then my partner has to do the promenade (while I maintain the shape). I've also always really enjoyed partnering in contemporary movement, which often requires more off balance work and more arm strength for the gals.

My husband, who is also a dancer, and I have been lucky enough to dance together on several occasions. We've done cute fun things like Puss N' Boots and the White Cat to more dramatic roles like Hamlet and Ophelia. He is a dream to dance with as he has such a wonderful combination of instinct, strength, and experience. I don't know how our chemistry appears to the audience, but there truly isn't anything like being able to share some of these fleeting experiences or literally being swept off your feet by your husband. :clapping:

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That's cool Point1432. Perhaps you might describe the difference in partnering with another man aside from your husband. Do you think your marriage and closeness makes / made an observable difference, or perhaps he is just was just a better dancer. I am assuming he was / is your best partner in ballet / dance.

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bart writes:

Multiple pirouettes with the man supporting his partner at the waist and apparently doing the spinning for her are dramatic. But, for some reason, it's precisely in these that some men show the most stress: sometimes biting their lips, furrowing their brows, and staring downward, in a kind of panic, at the lady's mid-section. The ballerina, meanwhile, has the burden of having to distract the audience from all of this by looking especially serene and confident.

:)

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Ilyaballet is uploading a wonderful series of videos:

"Pas de duex technique from Vaganova Ballet Academy.

Back in the middle of XX century, in Leningrad USSR, in Vaganova ballet school, it was one of the greatest ballet Pas de deux teachers - SEREBRIANIKOV. He wrote a book about partnering in ballet, and this film was his idea."

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Wonderful clip. Thanks, innopac, for posting it and reviving this interesting thread.

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Thank you for posting this incredible video. What impressed me (as an architect) is how in successful partner the forces of movement of the two dancers is so well integrated - so they smoothly pass from a two dancers moving with their own collection of forces into a couple where the forces combine seamlessly and they for that period when they are "connected" appear as "one dancer/collection of forces". So when the male partner lifts he takes her upward movement and adds to it (height) in a perfectly fluid manner. When he takes over it is no longer the force of her legs which propels her upward, but his arms. This is incredible timing in applying the correct force to create a completely seamless and fluid motion.

What amazes me is how the males partner does this. I suppose by holder her from the beginning of the jump he is aware of her forces and intuitively takes over in that seamless manner. And of course the jump comes to a peak at the top when it stops and reverse down (gravity). So the motion is not even linear, but more sinusoidal... no motion > slow > faster > slow > stop. But the partnering is more complex than lifts and so this ability of the two to trade off force and do it so seamlessly is indeed an art and a science.

What a beautiful lesson!

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From an interview on DanceViewTimes with Robert Fairchild by Michael Popkin, February 23, 2012

DanceView: Can you talk about what goes into good partnering?

Fairchild: It’s all coordination. Because there are certain lifts that you wouldn’t think would be a problem at all, but if you don’t have the coordination, it won’t happen. So you’re going for a lift, but if she pliés before you’re ready, then it’s no good. You have to plié with her, and lift her just at the moment her foot is pushing off the floor, with your hands going up at the same time as her body, and so that it’s timed as perfectly, and is as easy as can be. But also the girl has to let the guy do it. Which is really hard for some girls to do, because they might get stuck with a bad partner early on and learn to do it themselves; because originally that’s what they needed to do for the show. So it’s a challenge sometimes and it’s funny to say to your partner, “Stop doing anything here, you need to let me move you,” and mainly the guy is in charge. He’s the driving force. And if the girl’s responsive to that, then ideally you’re going to find the coordination.

http://danceviewtimes.typepad.com/michael_popkin/2013/01/robert-fairchild-im-doing-this-with-everybody-and-its-not-all-about-me-new-york-city-ballets-young-s.html

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