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Partnering class


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At what age is partnering class appropriate? DD is almost 11 and her school has asked her to be in the only partnering class (small school). There would be two boys (ages 10 and 11) the male instructor and four girls ages 11 (almost) 12, 13 and 16. I know they won't be doing any lifts as the male instructor is reserved and cautious. The two boys are most likely to stay with ballet and be partners with DD for awhile.





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As long as there is no lifting, I suppose it's harmless, however I would not start it at that age. I would like to have the girls on pointe a couple of years before they start even basic partnering. And boys that young are usually smaller than the girls and not strong enough to even find their center, much less support them in promenades, pirouettes, etc. And the girls are not solid enough in their own pirouettes at that age. So, basically, I don't really see the point in it, but, I guess it won't hurt them either.

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:rolleyes: From a parent's perspective, I really don't see how a 10 or 11 year old boy is going to be able to partner any girl older than himself (i.e 13 or 16) even just doing promenades! The strength/technique development is simply not there - looking back at my DS at 11, I couldn't imagine him in a dedicated partnering class. He started at 13 and even then had to really work to partner the older more experienced girls. His true partnering didn't start until 15/16 where pas work and lifts were introduced. I don't know - maybe he took the slow track, but I know that he has never suffered a major injury yet from partnering.


I think the time would be better spent for your daughter in another class. But that's just my opinion, on the other hand, as Ms. Leigh has stated, it could be harmless.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Diane, funny finding you here (FYI, our daughters dance together!). In defense of the school, there was a partnering class with the 3 teen girls and the instructor, and also a boy's class with just the 2 boys. They moved the classes together, and the teen girls though it would be "amusing" if they did partnering with the boys, but the girls did the lifting...not sure the instructor was amused, so the 2 younger girls were invited into the class to balance out things. Current plan is that instructor will partner with teen girls, younger girls will partner with boys. All 4 younger children are basically the same size (boys are a bit smaller, girls are quite thin), and there will be no lifting. I've heard that there will be more "chaperoning" than actual partnering. Not sure the point of it all...wouldn't choose to do it if DD had been asked, but she's about as big as the teens initially in the class! BTW, younger girls have been on pointe less than a year, I don't think they'll be on pointe here. I guess we'll see what it looks like, come recital. Trockaderos perform here tomorrow, I think that was the original inspiration for the "girls lift the boys" thing, which would have been kind-of funny in recital, I think! (And no, I don't think it's a Dolly Dinkle school, serves a wide consumer base in a limited area but seems to provide a good training in "real" ballet- current teacher trained at Bossov, danced professionally, former teacher (still guests) trained with Balanchine and was a principle withJoffrey. I think we are lucky to have this access in such a remote area!)

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I don't think there is a need to do partnering at that age, but as was said earlier, as long as there is no lifting, I don't know if it would cause harm either. My son is 11 and has done very limited partnering. (No lifting, just simple waist/hand supports, prominades, etc.) The girls he has partnered have been close to his age and good enough that they had no trouble finding their center, so it was not physically difficult for him at all.


I think that overall it can be a positive experience and it gets them comfortable with the idea that they eventually have to touch each other. :thumbsup: If the girls and boys are up for it, you are willing to let them spend class time doing it, and no one lifts anyone else, then I say go for it.

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No , at the time, the girls were on flat. :)

I think that's the situation they were asking about here too.


I think once the girls are up on pointe, the partnering becomes much more difficult. I'm not sure I would be comfortable with my son being asked to partner girls who were on pointe.

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I think that overall it can be a positive experience and it gets them comfortable with the idea that they eventually have to touch each other.  :) 


That's one reason why the Russian traditional curriculum introduced historical dance at such an early stage. When you do the minuet, you don't necessarily touch AT ALL. With a polonaise and a grand march, she just rests her forearm on his, and around the hall they go.

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  • 1 year later...

I hope it is o.k. to bring up this thread to ask this quick question:


My daughter has learned the polonaise, a couple of mazurkas (one Brazilian and one Polish) and a minuet.


Does "couples" dancing of these varieties help with future pas de deux in any way or are they just a simple introduction to traditional dances from around the world?

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Really much more of an introduction to National Character Dance, which is certainly very valid in itself! How lovely that she is learning these things. :yes:

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At DD's school the children start character class two to four years (depending on how they progress) before beginning partnering. It helps the boys and girls get used to dancing with each other and not worrying about cooties :yes: . I know one girl who was dancing with ds1 recently was given the correction "You're going to need to learn to look boys in the eye." Most of the kids (older and younger) enjoy the character classes. Plus most of the classics have character dances in them. I think it teaches musicality and rhythm better than tap does at the Dinkles. All in all, I think it helps them to be more comfortable with each other and if they are going to remain together as a group for many years, they also can develop trust in each other.

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On a completely off ballet topic, but on the topic of boys and girls dancing together, some of this sounds like scenes from Mad Hot Ballroom with 6th grade school kids and having to dance together. As a parent of a somewhat older DD (almost 15) who had her first serious partnering this year in Nutcracker Arabian, some practice holding hands and trusting before hand might have helped.

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These dances are beautiful. The students have had opportunities to perform them and have said they love the music as much as the steps.


I wondered if their genre was character; thank you for defining this.

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  • 9 months later...

I think that learning a bit of character dancing with the opposite sex is wonderful early on. I like that they get to understand that yes - no cooties - but also the sense of working together as a team in the dance. My daughter had to do a couple lifts with one of the adult male dancers for Nut with having no experience at all. They lift they struggled with in rehearsals they nailed every performance. The hip lift that they had no proble with in rehearsals didn't go so well at one performance. She kind of slid down his side. To me it looked like he didn't have a good grip on her. Becuase he's semi-professional she felt like it was her fault. I had to explain that when your working with a partner like that a lot of it is timing and working together. That it might have been his fault just as much as it could have been hers, but really they would never know. (He just told her that he didn't think anyone noticed). It did help that she saw the professional dancers (formerly w/the Bolshoi Ballet) argue (in Russian *lol*) because they messed something up - I guess she felt he did something wrong of missed a cue or something.

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I've found, on occasion, that I have students with a fear of eye contact. All I have to say is "can't look him in the eye without giggling? Fine, look at his nose! Nobody will notice the difference!"


But starting partnering in classical ballet is a readiness thing not only for the boys, but for the girls. If a girl can't hold herself on balance in retiré by herself, she shouldn't be asking a boy to hold her there, either.

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