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dancing partners--what about it?

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I've been curious for a long time about partnering in ballet. Are there rules/criteria for choosing who partners who? What will be happening if the company agreed to have Mr.X dance with Miss.Y, and the audience loved them too, but they never ever get on well off-stage.

Could anyone throw light on it, please?

Comparing between Royal Ballet and Kirov (unfortunately I've only been familiar with these two companies), the former seems to promote permanent partnerships between dancers, while the latter, as everybody realises, likes to switch around.

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There are really no rules about casting partners, especially in the first season of presentation, when the choreographer/ballet master has made (usually) the casting for first, second, and third casts. Company management may have input there, but the stager is the authority in this case.

After awhile, company may move some people around, but the creator/stager may have a considerable say in casting even when the ballet has been entered into continuing active repertoire.

Many people thought of Edward Villella and Patricia McBride as permanent partners, but NYCB-watchers may recall that both danced with many other partners. It's just that they were so effective together, that the times they did dance together sometimes became almost the stuff of history.

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I think that partnerships are another aspect of ballet that's different in different eras. Danilova once reportedly said of one of her usual partners, "Darling, it's the war. There's nobody else." When Fonteyn and Nureyev became The Partnership, suddenly there were lots of permanent partnerships, marketed as such.

No's question about partners getting along well on or off stage is interesting -- there was one married couple at NYCB (McBride and Bonnefoux; this was written about at the time, so it's not telling tales out of school) who just didn't seem to match on stage -- they seem to make each other nervous, one critic wrote. When I was watching rehearsals a lot backstage in Copenhagen, there was one very young couple who were also a couple off-stage and found that dancing together made their private relationship difficult, and so asked that they not be cast together during the season.

Sometimes one can make an educated guess about why two dancers are cast together so much -- he's not a good partners and she's the only one light enough, or strong enough, to stand him; he's the only one who will dance with her, because she's hard to manage; he's the only one who CAN dance with her because of height.

To me, it seems as though we're now in an era of partner shuffling. Unless one or the other dancer has enough seniority or power to demand a permanent partner -- or no permanent partner; I think dancers would differ on preference -- they'll be paired with several different people during a season.

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Thanks, all. I believe it's the dancers' spirit that could turn offstage 'enemies' into onstage lovers. Interesting to know further that, for Kirov, male dancers sometimes consider their partners as rivals.

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At the Paris Opera, there are at least two couples who are together on stage and off-stage (they have often given interviews together): the principals Agnes Letestu and Jose Martinez (Letestu is extremely tall, so Martinez is one of the only male dancers of the company tall enough for her), and the premiers danseurs Delphine Moussin and Lionel Delanoe (who have a child together).

On the other hand, Nicolas Le Riche (principal) and Clairemarie Osta (premiere danseuse) are married, but rarely perform together, probably because of a problem of height (he's much taller than her).

An example of "lasting" partnership at the POB was Michael Denard and Ghislaine Thesmar in the 1970s and 1980s, they sometimes performed with others but mostly danced together, especially in "La Sylphide" (Thesmar's "signature role"), "Swan Lake", "Giselle", some Balanchine works, and some reconstructions by Pierre Lacotte's (Thesmar's husband). From what I've read, they were well matched in looks (both blond-haired), height and style. There even was a book "Denard-Thesmar" about them. Another couple was Wilfride Piollet and Jean Guizerix (who were a married couple), they still perform together in some modern works.

Pontois often was paired with Atanassoff.

At the Paris Opera, Manuel Legris has partnered nearly all principals, but had a special stage partnership with Monique Loudieres (who retired in 1997). I've read so many excellent reviews about them that it makes me regret even more not to have seen Loudieres more often... At some period, there also were Hilaire-Guerin (who were promoted together in 1985) and Pietragalla-Belarbi (who had the same "Latin" looks), but after a while they performed mostly with others, I don't know why.

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