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When does partnering become necessary?


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I suppose the biggest challenge of any studio is recruiting boys. At what point in a girl's training does it become crucial that she receive partnering training? What do you do if there just aren't enough boys to go around?

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There are never enough boys to go around! :o However, they are more available in most of the larger SI programs, and that is really the only place that many dancers get that training prior to going into a residential or large company school. If the school has a male teacher, sometimes he will work with the girls on pas de deux, but It is not crucial prior to the upper teens and at the advanced level of training. Hopefully, they will get it sometime prior to becoming company audition ready.

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As a professional dancer in a contemporary company, my daughter is frequently up there in the air, standing on male dancers' shoulders (sometimes just one male, sometimes 2 at a time, while spinning or being thrown from one to another, etc. There is also much intricate partnering that takes place without being in the air. Her professional company doesn't hire females who don't have strong partnering skills. The level of trust dancers must have with their partners is critical to their performances. As ballet companies expand more and more into contemporary works, their dancers need to be ready for anything. While classical ballet itself has many partnering experiences, some contemporary works add a whole different kind of partnering, so it's very important for dancers to have had time developing their partnering skills and getting comfortable with its demands in the final years of their training.


My daughter was lucky because she attended a relatively small pre-pro school that, to this day, has a long history of attracting, and keeping, male dance students. Because of that experience, she always felt secure with her partners and comfortable in the air. As a student, when she attended SI's, she discovered that many - perhaps most - dance students didn't have the regular opportunities for partnering that she'd thought were a given in every ballet school. Those summer dance friends frequently said that they often chose SI's that attracted male dancers so they could be assured of daily partnering classes. Even so, it's not uncommon for 3 females to share one male partner at those SI's. So I agree wholeheartedly with Ms. Leigh that SI's with a cohort of male dancers is vital from age 16 and up. While the larger "name" pre-pros usually offer that, there are a few smaller ones with stellar reputations for attracting and training male students to the highest levels.

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Our pre pro school is one of those small schools that attracts male dances, but unfortunately, they are in a lull right now. We have one boy old enough and big enough to partner to a certain degree. The rest of the boys are young and small. The good news is that our RDA company just hired three men, and since DD will be taking company classes she will get the opportunity to learn partnering. One interesting thing that a teacher told me just last week was that it's safest for a male to work with just one partner and that he can actually become injured if he works with several partners. This struck me as interesting and somewhat odd. I'm curious as to what others think of this?

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I have never heard that one before. I do think the rate of injury is equal for both male and female. Learning partnering for both the male and the female is skilled based. It may be difficult for inexperienced students to learn partnering skills together however there is also a false sense of security if the male partner is more experienced than the female. The female must learn her set of skills as well. Sometimes good male partners can inhibit a young female from earning her set of skills.

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Matching the skill set and abilities of the lady and gentleman is very important in the early years of learning partnering. Unfortunately this is not always possible even at larger SIs. All levels of gentlemen usually attend pas de deux lessons with each level of ladies. When teaching the less experienced ladies with more experienced gentlemen it is important that the gents do not immediately fix everything for the lady. Otherwise the ladies will not really learn as Miss Schneider stated. Learning the individual responsibilities that each dancer needs is difficult if one of them takes on all of them. I also make a point of having different partners from week to week. (If the lesson was rep based, I would keep the same partners but for a technical pas lesson, I prefer to mix it up.) No two partners are the same so experiencing the differences is important.

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That's a very interesting point gcwhitewater. My DD15 has been lucky to have some partnering experience (although not extensive), was looking forward to it at her SI. They alternate each class with the lower level boys and upper level boys, and she was VERY frustrated with her first class with the lower level boys group. But maybe it was exactly what she needed!


She did say that for many of the girls in her level this was their first partnering experience.

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I remember that one of our boys (going off now) said that when he was at intensives, he had to run from class to class to partner.

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