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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Grand Pas de Deux


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Does anyone have a resource for a well written description of the form of a grand pas de deux. I am going to be describing it to our audience along with etiquette advice for viewing grand pas de deux.


We are trying to combat poor audience behavior such as shouting out and clapping in the middle of dances for no good reason, but we want to educate our audience about the exceptions to the rule, such as clapping after the segments of the coda.


Advice please?

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Mel Johnson

OK, first the history. Ballet was only formally laid down at the same time, in fact the same YEAR that the modern principles of music were set forth, that is, 1725. In eighteenth-century threatrical dance, when you have a dance for any size group which is followed by solo dances by the individuals in that group, it took the musical form of theme and variations, where the solos were musically related to the theme of the group dance. When ballet passed into its Romantic period, about the second quarter of the nineteenth century, the rigidity of the Augustan theater was broken down in order to give performers greater range of expression. The solos were still called "variations" but they rarely had anything to do thematically with any other part of the dance.


The grand pas de deux developed to come in five parts:


  • Entrée - an introduction, usually of moderate tempo.
  • Adage - a slow movement in which the ballerina and her partner achieve movements and poses intended to demonstrate both gracefulness and security.
  • Variation I - for the male dancer first, in order to give the ballerina some breathing time after the adage.
  • Variation II - for the ballerina
  • Coda - the finale of the work, usually filled with tricky and exciting steps.


Remember that the grand pas de deux is ALWAYS a display piece. There are other pas de deux which are NOT grand pas de deux which are constructed differently.


There are good manners associated with grand pas de deux, as you have noted.


Falsetto screams are bad manners, unless there is a loose spring in your seat.

One must not "pogo" during the male variation.

Chewing on the theater furniture is considered poor form.

The main floor of the theater is called the "orchestra" not the "mosh pit".

No smoking, even tobacco.

This is an auditorium show, not an arena. It is Art, not Sport.

Do not sing along with the ballerina's variation.

The coda is all fireworks. Go crazy, if you like. There are even breaks in the music to allow this behavior.

Enjoy yourself. The dancers and the dancing are beautiful, it is to be hoped.

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:D Just fabulous Mr Johnson!
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Perfect description Mel!!!

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Twinkle Mom

I LOVED the description, Mr. Johnson, especially the humorous bits at the end! :thumbsup:

Thank you!!

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