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Ballet Talk for Dancers

early variations for male dancers?


KellyeS

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I am looking for suggestions for good variations for a young male dancer to learn. He is 11 and training, as most boys do, in a school that is dominated by females. The training is Vaganova based, with a teacher trained and certified in Russia in the method. He is going to be starting in the variations class this week. This class has been all female up until now. We have several performance opportunities for small benefits and other small performances in the next couple of months and would like for him to be able to participate in these. There is a girl starting the class this week as well who is about his size and age 12 (on pointe, but still a beginner). They have partnered as Clara & Fritz in a past Nutcracker and are well-suited in temperament and style with one another. It would be great if there was a classical pas de deux they could do that is short, simple and clean. Any suggestions are welcome. Thanks.

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First, don't be disappointed if the first things your son does are fairly rudimentary purpose-built "variations" cobbled together from male vocabulary. We can't see him, or his proposed partner, but as a general rule, pre-teens ought to take it easy before taking on the big classics known to the world, but which were originally set on adults! These works are fraught with danger, and young dancers can be very badly hurt indeed trying to do them. It's best to trust the teacher's judgment here, and let him decide how to direct your son's training at times when his development is just beginning. Don't push for the Don Quixote grand pas de deux right now. Let the teacher decide what's appropriate. He can see the students, we can't.

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Do you have any specific suggestions though? :)

 

He has danced the Nutcracker Prince and he has danced as one of the Pierot dolls in the Fairy Doll (with the female partner mentioned as the other Pierot doll). Their performance of it is actually on youtube, but I know those links are forbidden on here. If you search youtube though, for Fairy Doll, it is the Alabama Youth Ballet posting (it is in three parts--the girl is the one doing the split jumps in part 3). They were 10 and 11 at the time this was done (last spring). We were asked if there was a particular variation that we wanted him to learn, and don't know enough to make a suggestion! Thanks for your suggestions and help.

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There are very few male variations which are standard throughout the world. I suppose if I were breaking in a student on male variations, I would try the mazurka from "Les Sylphides" on him first, perhaps substituting royales for the entrechats-sixes. I would then go after the male variation in the Peasant pas de deux in Act I Giselle, but there are a couple of opinions, at least, on the content. The male variation from Flower Festival at Genzano is another that's a good break-in, but it's deceptive. It's a lot harder than it looks. Albrecht, Basilio and Siegfried should wait.

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There's not anything already created that would be appropriate for children at their level and age.

 

If they were my students, I would choose an appropriate piece of music and create something on them that would be both age and technique appropriate. :)

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Thanks for the feedback Mel and Clara. I forgot he has already done a Mazurka in Coppelia as well, with a small male/female part in it. We will talk with his teacher and see what we can come up with.

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Does your son like Harry Potter? Maybe have the teacher create a pas for Hermione and Harry. :)

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One thing to remember about why male variations look so exciting: They look like they flirt with the very edges of disaster, and they do!

 

It is better, much better, to have a teacher create an original work for students which make use of their current abilities, and then maybe, push--a little.

 

An 11-year-old is really taking risks if he essays a full-out mature male variation. It's one thing to risk going out of control when you're 18, but another thing entirely when you haven't firmly established control yet!

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