Tapfan

Adagios in Classical Pas de deux

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Are the opening sections of classical pas de deux in which the ballerina is supported by her male partner, very difficult for the ballerinas to perform?

I ask because when I've observed these movements - with my admittedly untrained eye - I've been l somewhat underwhelmed. I know that world-class female ballet dancers are incredibly graceful, strong and flexible. But so are many people who practice yoga and other physical activities at high levels. Other than the wondrousness of Viengsay Valdes-type balances, I'm at a loss as to what is so special in adagios.

I realize these sections are meant to display the female dancer's grace, line and balance. But isn't such a display redundant considering all the abilities she has already shown in allegro?

Also, the fact that a ballerina needs a male partner to show off is a bit sexist, is it not?

Do male dancers need women to show all aspects of their virtuosity?

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Was my question offensive? That was honestly not my intention. My apologies.

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Not offensive, no, but perhaps a bigger question than you intended or realized, and one that takes some doing to answer. I'm in the middle of a bunch of tasks, and so cannot do it anything like justice, except to nod my head at rg's reply above.

From the performer's point of view, issues of phrasing and line are very, very different in an adagio tempo than they are at allegro speeds. As a viewer, I'm looking at very different things in those two situations.

More later, barring disasters...

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Sorry, the rhetorical questions were a failed attempt a humor.

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NB: i've removed my post which failed to understand that the original post was a joke.

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Well, the whole post wasn't meant as a joke. I was attempting to be puckish and feign outrage at ballet's supposed "sexism, " when I mentioned the male dancer assisting the female dancer during the adagio.

But honestly, other that the point work in this Swan Lake adagio, I truly don't know how to appreciate most of the ballerina's movements.

Yes she's certainly strong, and limber, but to my untrained eye, she looks like she's doing stretching exercises that many very fit non-ballerinas could manage.

I honestly would like to know what I'm missing.

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I honestly would like to know what I'm missing.

You are just missing the entry into the balletomane's realm...

Want the secret code...? thumbsup.gif

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If you give me the secret, will you have to kill me?

But honestly, yes, i would like to have it.

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Try approaching any ballet movement this way: The music is the critical element - what is the

dancer doing to enhance that? As Edward Villella said, "in ballet, music IS movement." If you

keep in your consciousness BOTH music and movement, you will quickly see that every dancer is

different in how well their movements coalesce with the music (note I didn't say "match" the

music - most dancers with really fine musicality will "play" with the music, making it even

more interesting, a la Balanchine's dictum). Or, a short answer would be, yoga and other physical

activities have nothing in particular to do with music; ballet does.

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And I will leave it to others more knowledgeable than I am to discuss the intricacies and beauty of

partnering.

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Have a look at this video, where Darcey Bussell explains more about the pas de deux from the 2nd act in Swan Lake: video. It starts at the right moment, where she talks about the famous 'falling backwards'. For many, it seems easy to do, but it's very difficult for the ballerina and her partner.

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I realize these sections are meant to display the female dancer's grace, line and balance. But isn't such a display redundant considering all the abilities she has already shown in allegro?

Here is the problem. You are watching it as though it's purely or primarily a sport. As though the classical pas de deux's only context is, as you said, to "display the female dancer's grace, line, and balance" as a short program or routing in figure skating or gymnastics would. But this not the only context - in fact, it can be negligible when appraising the work as a whole. Ballet is an art form. The dancers move the way they do in classical PDD not only to "display" themselves but to tell the story (often the entire process of falling in love in 10 minutes or less!) and illustrate the music in a way that they have been trained to do since childhood. When you get to a certain echelon of dance ability, strength and flexibility are more or less taken for granted. You begin to observe the details - the "fragrance" of the movements, all in millisecond variations of timing, incremental differences in angles of the joints that give vastly different emotional impressions. The use of the eyes and face, fingers and wrists and feet. You will learn to watch feet in a way some might consider creepy.

You cannot watch ballet as sport - not because it isn't athletic enough to be one, but because to do so is to miss nearly everything worth seeing! Watch a ballet from beginning to end, one with a strong emotional/narrative element. Attune yourself to the story, music, aesthetic richness, acting. Like you would an opera, musical, painting, poem... anything but sports!

Right now you are only seeing the very tip of the very surface of the iceberg. I hope that I and other users here can help you get into the right mindset to appreciate this beautiful art form. It is so very worth it, and not as hard as it sounds! It will click for you. :)

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