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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Partnering Question


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I have recently started taking a regular partnering class this fall at a college dance program looking for guys for the class. I just have one question for Mr. Johnson or Hans: Is it typical after just a couple classes to start doing unspotted shoulder sits? I have just taken this class starting this fall's semester and am one of the few guys in the class who actually has ballet experience. After having the group try the sits each once with spotters, the instructor put it into choreography for us to do unspotted in the class. I was unable to get my partner high enough to get on my shoulder, but of the other guys who got the girls on their shoulders pretty much all the girls in the end where hanging upside down on the guy's backs due to poor form. Now, I don't want to seem as though I am a tattle tale but, I am slightly nervous doing this with neither the girls nor guys having really any partnering experience yet. If you could tell me if this is the norm that would be helpful.



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I would say no, that is not typical. Shoulder sits require good coordination, strength, correct position, and trust between the partners--and those are qualities that are built with time and experience. I have never been in a pas de deux class (I started pas de deux at age 14) in which the women actually fell backward during shoulder sits, so right away that tells me something is very wrong. That could cause injuries to both the men and the women, and I would bring it up with the director of the program. It just isn't safe.

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Thank you, for both of your opinions. What Hans said is what I was thinking, but since I am not a teacher I figured that I would ask here. I know that I get nervous from my perspective of possibly dropping someone when they're on my shoulders, and I couldn't imagine being in my partner's position. I don't know how to bring this up to the teacher, but one thing I know is that I am not signing back up for this class again next semester. This just goes to show even free things have a price.

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This just goes to show even free things have a price.




T There

A Ain't

N No

S Such

T Thing

A As


F Free

L Lunch

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I started ballet in my 50s to help my Argentine Tango and got enough pleasure from Class to keep going. After two years I was asked to assist in the teen Pas de Deux class due to a shortage of teen boys. At 180 pounds, fit, and 6' tall there was never a problem for me with shoulder sits. The retired NYCB male instructor often found problems were due to the girls either not assisting enough with their legs or having a poor body position when they reached shoulder level. I expect that will come with practice. Do not ask to work with lighter girls to start with, ever. Leave that up to the instructor. Too, here on this site I have seen posts about physical training. maybe ask your instructor about that?

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At 5'8" and very thin, I did not really have trouble with shoulder sits, either--because, like all lifts, they are primarily about coordination. Regardless of one's build or level of physical fitness, lifts in ballet require a certain amount of technique in order to be done correctly, and either partner may have difficulty with the technique when first learning partnering. The technique must be taught first; otherwise, the teacher is not doing his/her job, and even a very strong man can be easily injured by lifting incorrectly.

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  • 3 weeks later...



I just wanted to update this thread. The teacher feels that shoulder sits are a reasonable expectation for the class and views them as an appropriate skill for this course. He has added to this the fish, which isn't as difficult as the shoulder sits, but still difficult. To top this off the teacher's instructional style isn't very clear and if he sees someone doing something wrong he gets right up in their face and yells at them(this is a beginners course). This class is an extra class on top of my regular daily ballet classes and rehearsals. I enjoy partnering classes, but I feel a bit overwhelmed at the moment with this particular one. I have been dancing seriously for just about one year and am 16 yrs. old and don't want to drop someone or have anyone get hurt because I am being asked to do things that are pushing the limits of my current skill level. I also don't want to be a quitter either. Just to to reiterate everyone else in the class is a total beginner at partnering with most of the guys having no ballet background.



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If your teacher gets in your face while you're partnering, work it out with your partner so that SHE hits him! :)

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