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Partnering Advice Needed

Guest jla_ksu

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Guest jla_ksu

Hi All,


I am looking for some advice for partnering.

Our studio has started two partnering classes. One for younger dancers and another for older, more experienced dancers. I am really enjoying it because I have the opportunity to partner with a lot of dancers for an hour each week.

My problem is the dancers rotate between the men. It is good to get experience with all different body types and skill levels.

But that is the difficulty I am having.

I am not strong enough to lift many of the dancers, so I have to focus more on the timing. But, having only one or two dancers for each lift I don't feel like I get enough time to get the rhythm down.

I took the summer partnering class and it was great. There were a few girls and fewer guys. I was able to work with a couple of them all summer. I got to know their timing and could lift them pretty well.

I am currently going to the gym every day at lunch, so I hope to improve my strength.

A bit about me. I am 35 and fairly new to ballet. I take a mens' class, the partnering class, and an advance class.

My question is how can I improve my timing with the dancers. Would it be appropriate for me to ask one of the better dancers to work with me?


Any advice is appreciated.





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Hi Jeff,


I started ballet about three years ago and have been asked to partner just because there's really no male dancers in the area. You're lucky to have organized partnering classes. So, I only offer observation. You should take the technical advice from Mel and some of the other seasoned members.


For me timing comes with lots of rehearsal with the same girl. Trust and positioning is also very critical for overhead lifts and traveling lifts. I've found that girls who partner for the first time have difficulty getting too close. The closer they are to my center the easier the lift feels. This sort of comes naturally once she gets more comfortable with you.


Another issue is how rigid the girl can be. I partnered two girls once roughly the same size for an overhead arabesque lift (dead lift). One girl was a gymnast so lifting her was like lifting one solid object. The other girl seemed to fold in half once I got her off the ground.


Finally, I believe it's our job to make sure the partner feels confident in our hands. I've learned to be conservative in my lifts. If something feels slightly off I immediately give up on the lift and aggressively secure my partner to make sure she doesn't get injured. My choreography told me that once a guy drops her it's hard for her to trust him again.


Just my two bits, hope it helps.



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JLA, one thing I noticed you said you cannot lift "many" of the dancers. Are some of your partners , um how can I say it, "gravitationally challenged?" Unless you are a beefy weightlifter, you wont be able to lift anyone who is even slightly over weight. As men we are expected to keep our weight down as well.

If they are not jumping correctly and using their arms, that can be corrected over time.

What lifts are you having difficulty with? Are you getting corrections?



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Guest jla_ksu



Some of the girls are more difficult to lift than others. Some are heavier than others. Not really overweight, but heavy enough to be difficult to lift. Others are not as good as others.

I think the skill level of the girls is a bigger issue. Some of the older, more experienced, dancers are great. I struggle to lift the younger ones and then partner with the older ones and it is amazing how easy it is to work with them.


But, I still need to work on the strength training. Although, you comment about the beefy weightlifter is right on. There are two really beefy guys and even they have a hard time lifting some of the dancers who don't jump!


As far as the technique. Is it better to work with one or two dancers to get the feeling of the technique or is it better to work with a lot of them in one session to get the breadth of experience?


Thanks for your comments. I really want to get better.



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There are two major features of partnering, and they apply to both parties, although in different ways. You have to be strong enough to do the things that you're asked to do, and must commit to follow your partner's timing. Obviously you can't lift 90 pounds of cooked spaghetti, and she can't have an underpowered support. Further, you must follow her lead, and she must follow yours, in equal measure or to a predetermined amount and time and place. You are taking classes now for learning how to read these cues and to get stronger in the art of partnering and being partnered. Remember - it's called "partnering" for a reason. It's reciprocal, and it takes awhile to learn how.

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  • 5 weeks later...
Guest Noontidal

I know I've only just begun, but I believe that I may end up trying to partner once I truly begin to get things down. In the meantime what would you recommend for exersizes and such to prepare for lifts and such? To provide a little personal information, I am 5'10", I weigh 196lbs, I bench around 250-300, and I can do 50 one handed push-ups in a set (yes I'm a bit of a show-off please forgive me). But I think that partnering and lifting might well take more than muscle or muscles I am not currently working, and when I do get into partnering I want to be physically capable.

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It doesn't sound like you'll be needing much of anything in the way of strength, except for maybe adding some curl-and-press lifts to the weights. Benching does great if you're going to punch your partner, but that hasn't been considered good form in YEARS! :thumbsup: What you'll probably find that you need is experience in manipulating another person's body. It's very subtle stuff and is not very highly dependent on strength. Another thing you will find is that you will require work in coordinating your partner's efforts with your own, so that she isn't going down when you want her to go up and vice versa.

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  • 2 months later...
Guest abcdance37

I used to find partnering very difficult and i could only really partner this one girl well. But after alot of prcatice and time i worked up to getting better. I can now do everything for pirrouttes, fouttes, lifts and everything. I am even going to be doing some partnering peices at RDA this spring. So just find a girl or two atfer class when they still have thier point shoes on and practice for 5 minutes. It really pays off. :thumbsup:

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The best way, though, is to find a pas de deux class and take it regularly. That way you get a better assortment of different partners, and it's not just a hurry-up catch-as-catch-can at the end of class.

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Just remember two things: Never rush through anything new, and never do it without a spotter to catch whoever falls if it's that "experimental".

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Last Friday, I had a pas-de-deux class too. There are now a couple of guys attending my regular pointe class, so ballet mistress decided that she would take the chance and introduce some partnering. There were 12 girls and 3 boys (including me). The exercise seemed to be simple: Girl in arabesque and I had to promenade her around. The girls were rotating twice (at least), hence I had a lot of work to do and each girl is different!!! Some felt too heavy, leaning too much on my hands, others were too light in comparison to others. How can I balance this out? This made it difficult to perform the exercise? I know that the two partners have to work together, hence is it just a matter of time to improve?


I have done partnering before when I was in pre-pro training as a teenager but that is 13 years ago, so I would consider myself as a beginner in parterning again. Probably teacher will continue to do some parterning at the end of pointe class, so any advice appreciated. :thumbsup:

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In partnering, it's a matter of learning how to "talk to one another", even if you don't use words. Remember this: If a girl has problems maintaining her balance in regular center practice in doing an arabesque penché, it isn't going to get any better just because you're there. And then there are those who think that they can relax, because you are going to do all the work. Wrong. The girl can't fidget or wiggle while she's being partnered. Otherwise, it's like trying to partner a double handful of overcooked spaghetti!

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Some girls were definitely better than other. Some also appeared to be very nervous! I will enquire again if we do more difficult partnering. Thanks for your help so far.

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