In Dance in America's "Virtuosity and Variety" program on ABT some years back, Susan Jaffe talks about her partnership with Jose Manuel Carreno.
I need a man to really be a man, to be grounded, to be strong. It makes an enormous difference in my performance when I feel the man is really there and doesn't have a nerve in his body, he's just ready to go.
We then see her dabbing at his makeup in the wings and the two of them holding hands and grinning at each other as they're about to enter for the Black Swan pas de deux, and it's clear they really enjoy each other's company. I've always found Jaffe's comments interesting in that they reflect the old-fashioned gender roles reflected in 19th century ballet both in its stories and in its partnered choreography. Jaffe is obviously quite strong herself, physically and -- she carried the flag for ABT as principal dancer for many years -- as a person, but she makes no bones about how much she relies on her partner in order to be fully confident. She's married and I'm not suggesting anything untoward, but there's a refreshingly natural male-female frisson, if that's not too strong a term, apparent in her remarks that must only enhance their performance
This made me sit up when I read the following in the new issue of Pointe Magazine. (*) Here is Marcello Gomes speaking:
Partnering is dancing. I sometimes see people partnering and it looks llike, "Now I am going to partner," and "Now I am doing my solo." It is one thing -- dancing with your partner, not just trying to create the line. You are creating phrases and movement. It can take a long time, or it can be like adding water.
Gomes sounds truly interested in his partners, truly attentive to them rather than just providing them support because it's his job. I'll bet his partners love him.