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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Partnering Lifts


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During a pas de deux that I am dancing, we have to do a back bend lift. For this lift, i am arched over his head with one of my legs is straight up in the air and the other leg is bent and against his chest. His arms are straight up over his head. We are having trouble with this lift, especially since he is a foot taller then me. Can anyone give us advice on this lift?

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First things first. When you say "we're having trouble", where does the lift start to fall apart? On takeoff? Do you hit his chin on the way up? Do you start to go back over his head and just keep going? Can you not extend your leg forward? These are only a few ways in which this lift can go sour. Is it any of these? Or "other"?

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The problem is variable. Sometimes he doesn't pick me up right and then i cant bend back enough which makes the lift look weird. One time i almost went over and there have been a few times he hasn't been able to get me off the floor. I thought the height difference might be a problem because on a plain back bend lift (both of my legs are straight down) at the end of the pas, his hands tend to slide up which makes it hard to bend back. Are there any general tips that might help us?

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OK, the first things you can do to help him involve grasping his wrists and adjusting where he puts his hands at your waist. If he grasps too high up, you'll start to tip forward and not be able to make a takeoff. If it's too low, you'll go backward, and right over his head - more than you want. This lift is a layback lift and takes a lot of getting used to. His hands make a platform against which your torso lies. Some couples find a handy "landmark" to be having the pads of his thumbs on your sacrum (tailbone). Does this help?

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Yes it does. He starts at my waist but then his hands slid up by the time he gets me all the way up. We can do just the plain version of this lift no problem but as soon as my leg has to go straight up for this lift it gets all messed up. So maybe its just me not bending far enough back. Thank you for your advice! :)

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Keep holding onto his wrists so that his hands don't rise up! Then start to work on your timing so that the lifting, the bend backward, and the developpé all slide seamlessly into one another. Then work on doing that without holding the wrists.

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