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Which one is your favourite pas de deux?

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I'd like to get some opinions about pas de deux in general.I started loving them only when I started studying them at the ballet school.Before I thought they were boring and the man was just an unuseful "lifter" and stop.When I then began studying the pas de deux technique I suppose I discovered a whole new and amazing world.Now I love them and I think they are one of the topic moments in a ballet,on which to quote the ability,both technical and interpretative,of dancers.Now,in my opinion,the most moving and beautiful pas de deux is the "white swan pas de deux".It really gives me a vast range of emotions...and what about You?Do You like PDDs?which one is your favourite and which are the ones you really can't stand?

I'm waiting for your answers;-)

P.S. I didn't know where to post this so if You want to move it to a more appropriate forum It's no problem.

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This is a perfect place for this topic, dancerboy. :)

I, too, love pdds, and agree that White Swan is perhaps the most eloquent.

My all-purpose favorite, however, is probably Balanchine's Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux. Another favorite -- while not a complete entree-adagio-variation-variation-coda pdd (then, neither is White Swan), is from Sleeping Beauty's Vision Scene.

Hmmm, I hope my taste is more eclectic than this post suggests! Okay, a favorite non-Tchaikovsky pas would be the slow movement from Symphony in Three Movements -- Stravinsky. I find the choreography so witty and original, even with dancers who may not be either.

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One of my favorite pdd's is the slow movement of Jerome Robbins's "In G Major," to the music of Ravel. It's almost like being in love.

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I second the vote for Balanchine's Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux for a favorite all purpose ppd.

The one I particularly love, however, is the ppd from the 2nd act of Balanchine's Midsummer Night's Dream. It never fails to move me.

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The one I particularly love, however, is the ppd from the 2nd act of Balanchine's Midsummer Night's Dream. It never fails to move me.

That's my favorite, too.

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The duet for Titania and Oberon in Sir Frederick Ashton's The Dream is my favourite.

Another close runner is the grand pas from Act 3 of Sleeping Beauty

OK - Top 5: The Dream

Act 3 grand pas from Sleeping Beauty

Tchaikovsky pdd

Don Quixote pdd (because it is so kitsch)

Two Pigeons (final duet) - absolutely heartbreaking

I appreciate that my first and last choices are not conventionally structured pdd but they do it for me!

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All of these are great, but I'd like to add:

Giselle Act 2 pdd (both of them) - in fact, the moment when Giselle touches Albrecht for the first time may be my favorite moment in the entire ballet. But the grand pas de deux when done well is always breathtaking. And this isn't really a pas de deux, but when dawn comes, the Wilis depart, and Giselle lifts the near-dead Albrecht up and then tells him that she must leave him forever never fails to get me.

La Bayadere - Shades pas de deux between Solor and Nikya

Symphony in C - movement 2

Bottom/Titania pas de deux

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For classical grand pas de deux, it would have to be the tandem combination of White Swan/ Black Swan. Each stands alone beautifully (especially the first), but together they are enhanced by the contrasts and allusions between them.

Does this have to be about grands pas only? If we may also talk about male/female duets of other kinds, I'd also mention a few that I have sometimes fantasized dancing (if only I could dance :off topic: ).

A few of these are fairly cheesey, I'm afraid, so pass on if you are a strict classiscist.

-- Afternoon of a Faun (Robbins)

-- Spartacus, his pdd with Phrygia (Grivgorovich)

-- The two contrasting pdd in Stravinsky Violin Concerto (Balanchine)

-- balcony pdd in MacMillan's (but not Lavrovsky's) Romeo and Juliet

I love the opportunities for passionate movement and acting given to males in these. I can't imagine fantasing myself as a Nutcracker or Diamonds Cavalier.

Two examples of male-female partnereing don't count as pdd's, since the man and women interact with other characters on the stage:

-- the parts of Giselle in which Albrecht is forced by the Wilis to dance to exhaustion, and Giselle tries to save him. This is the height of dance-as-love in all ballet, as far as I am concerned (Edited to add: canbelto was posting something similar, much more eloquently, at the same time I was typing.)

-- James and the Sylphide in La Syphide Act II (Bournonville)

I'm also with carbro on Symphony in 3 Movements -- and with several of you on the Titania/Oberon pdd in Balanchine MSN'sDream, which I prefer to Ashton's, perhaps because I saw this from the beginning.

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I'm also with carbro on Symphony in 3 Movements -- and with several of you on the Titania/Oberon pdd in Balanchine MSN'sDream, which I prefer to Ashton's, perhaps because I saw this from the beginning..

I was one of those that mentioned Bananchine's MSN's Dream, but I didn't mean the Tatania/Oberon ppd. I meant the ppd in the 2nd act. I think it is divine.

Sorry, I just wanted to be clear.

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They are not really pas de deux -- they're not long enough or developed enough, but I'm always gobsmacked by the three themes at the beginning of Balanchine's 4Ts. And then there's Sanguinic...

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I was one of those that mentioned Bananchine's MSN's Dream, but I didn't mean the Tatania/Oberon ppd. I meant the ppd in the 2nd act. I think it is divine.
I agree, but I think one of the glories of that ballet is how often gestures and motifs from the first act pas -- Titania and her cavalier -- reappear, sometimes in more refined manner, in the second. Like the White and Black Swan, each resonates within the other.

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Woops! I'm sorry. I meant the Titania/cavalier pdd. Maybe I typed "oberon" because I now live in Eddie Villella country. :off topic: Thanks, vipa, for catching me on this.

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Woops! I'm sorry. I meant the Titania/cavalier pdd. Maybe I typed "oberon" because I now live in Eddie Villella country. :off topic: Thanks, vipa, for catching me on this.

Oh dear! I am being so unclear. I mean the ppd in the 2nd act that does not involve Titania. I don't know what to call it. Can someone help? It is a true gem.

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It's usually called the "Act II Divertissement."

Thank you - that's what I meant.

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Vipa, we both got a bit confused as to who is dancing, but we're talking about the same pdd. I keep forgetting that the couple are not part of the Act I plot line. Anyway, the music -- soft, flowing andante, following a light, sprightly allegro -- is lovely. The couple dances at first with others to the allegro music -- then the stage empties and they are given this slow, graceful, peaceful time alone with one another. Then the stage fills again, and our eyes are brought back the the happy court society.

:off topic: Have you noticed that this thread is now on the new "Everything Else Ballet" forum. Great title! Though it is sad to see "Anything Goes" .... gone.

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For classical grand pas de deux, it would have to be the tandem combination of White Swan/ Black Swan.

Oh well, bart, so i guess you're the only backing me up on the swan issue!. My all time favorite PDD , he,he.. :flowers: the old "Black Swan PDD,(Mme.Alonso :bow: after Gorsky) for its choreography and plotline. Next, (and i think i will be the first to mention it, right?) the "Sugar Plum Fairy" (the Fokine/Mme.Fedorova :bow: version, specially when the Cavalier rocks the arched Sugar Plum Fairy like a pendulum, the back of her head almost sweeping the floor.) I just love it for sentimental reasons :flowers: and beautiful music and choreography, and then, as we're expanding the concept a little bit, the "Waltz in C minor" from Chopiniana (Alonso after Fokine) just because i have to watch it at least once a week. I know, i know...i have a kitsh taste, some say... :off topic:

Note: It's worthy to mention that my top three favorites are based totally in the choreographic fact. In other words, my choices would be different if these PDD are staged by different choreographers.

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I don't think Chopiniana is kitschy--it's very beautiful.

My two favorite pas de deux are the grands pas de deux from Sleeping Beauty and Giselle. I also love the two pas de deux from "Kingdom of the Shades" in La Bayadère.

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I'm not sure it counts as a pas de deux per se, but I do love second movement Symphony in C.

Count me in on "Titania and Cavalier" as well, and I'm also fond of the Apollo pas de deux between Apollo and Terpsichore.

(Yes, I do like choreographers besides Balanchine. :))

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perhaps for argument's sake, regarding Balanchine's A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, a distinction could be between the pas de deux for Titania and her cavalier in the "bower" scene of act of Act 1, and the elegiac, almost mystical pas de deux for the unidentified ballerina/character and her cavalier at the center of the Act 2 'wedding' scene.

Titania (originally Melissa Hayden) is supernatural, a fairy queen, and thus somehow of earthly time and space; the second act ballerina (originally Violette Verdy) in the so-called 'divertissement pas de deux' is spiritual, in a way. (Balanchine mentions the Virgin Mary with reference to this scene in an interview w/ Jonathan Cott.)

i find the arbitrary assignment of giving this latter role to the Titania ballerina as going counter to what Balanchine envisioned for his DREAM. this nouveau decision is second only in disrespect of Balanchine's intentions to the notion that a company could give act 1 by itself and call the work Balanchine's MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM. the ballet's intended second act is very much part of the first and should never be dropped or seen as only a divertissement.

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Weren't the ballerinas originally supposed to be Adams (Titania) and Kent (Act II)? Very different from the dancers who actually premiered the roles.

I actually see the pdd in the Wedding Act as an idealized version of love after the misunderstandings and conflicts of Act I have been resolved. Titania does not abide in the world of mortals -- she and her world are ethereal, yet still imperfect. Yes, the Act II pas reaches beyond, but somehow I see it as extremely human. A paradox there. :)

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(Balanchine mentions the Virgin Mary with reference to this scene in an interview w/ Jonathan Cott.)

Thank you for that, rg -- I'd never read it, but it makes sense. I've always heard/read what you wrote about the contrasts between the fairies, the mortals, and the spirituality of the final act pas. (I was taught that the fairies were earthbound, rather than ethereal, because they were Germanic fairies, to match the music.)

And I hope that all the company ADs who are promising to stage Act I only read your post!

I think carbro is correct about the intended cast, but I think with most choreographers, and perhaps especially Balanchine, it's the actual cast that matters.

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(I was taught that the fairies were earthbound, rather than ethereal, because they were Germanic fairies, to match the music.)
That's so interesting. In a similar fashion, I have always thought of them (or Shakespeare's version, at least) as similar to the gods of Greek mythology -- timeless and above mankind, but still swept up in many of the petty passions that afflict humanity -- jealousy, pettiness, vindictiveness, mischievousness, and, very rarely, forgiveness.

My thoughts about this particular pdd: it comes across as a tribute to the way in which great art can let us glimpse the wonderful aloneness that people in love can share in the midst of all the hustle and bustle of life. The quick transition from the allegro court dancing to the empty space in which the couple move (andante) is one of the great theatrical movements in Balanchine --for me, at least.

This man and woman, whoever they are, with all great lovers the sense that time and space have dissolved -- leaving only themselves.

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here's the GB quote to JC from PORTRAIT OF MR. B. p. 139:

"At on point, when I was choreographing [A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM], I said to myself: In the last act, I'll make a little entertainment and then a big vision of Mary standing in the sun, wrapped in the moon, with a crown of twelve stars obn her head and a red draon with seven heads and ten horns ... the Revelation of St. John.

JC: Why didn't you do it?

GB: Well, because then I thought that nobody would understand it, that people would think I was an idiot."

in the staging for PNB the design elements include a ring of stars on the backcloth during the pas de deux.

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