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Ballet Talk for Dancers

At what age is it appropriate for boys to partner girls?


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Our young boys do some light partnering. We have a very small ten year old who is ridiculously strong. It's always fun and sweet to watch.

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14yo DS has been partnering since he was about 11. It started with a simple pas de deux (no lifts) and he is has been learning lifts (below his waist?) for the past year. Most of the partnering seems to be about balance, trust and learning to work your partner's foibles (e.g timing and staying on the beat!!) :clapping: Great life skill I think. They learn a lot more than lifting from partner work! In a recent performance DS supported two girls at once in arabesque (panche??) and he explained to me later that each girl needed something different from him during the pose. These men make it look so easy!

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When boys are learning to partner, as a parent, you really have to be their advocate and put your foot down on somethings. Rehearsal directors sometimes get excited to get a boy and try to get them to do all kinds of crazy lifts that they should be while they are still developing. My son is 15 and has hypermobile joints, even more so when he is in a growth spurt. Last year, one of his rehearsal directors wanted him to do a shelf lift above his head with a girl far too big for him. He got her up, but then popped his shoulder out of place because his joint couldn't hold the weight. I told the rehearsal director ahead of time, no overhead lifts, but he did not listen. While it wasn't a bad injury, it didn't need to happen if they had been looking out for my son's well being. I think 10 is fine for assists when spinning, etc but they should not be lifting until they are more developed. Coming out of his growth spurt this year, my son is able to do more lifting because he had great teachers who cared enough to build his strength first and not push his joints unnecessarily.

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Dinkalina, I'm glad your son wasn't badly hurt during that lift, but it does sound painful :( I will definitely be sure to speak my concerns. I guess I should also explain to my son that he can get hurt if he attempts to lift someone before he is strong enough.

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Even if a child is unusually strong for his age, it is usually not a good idea to have him do lifts until he is in his mid teens and more physically mature. Doing too much too soon can damage growing joints. It is similar to the reasoning for not putting girls on pointe too soon. They have their whole careers ahead of them to do plenty of lifts when they are fully grown--why run the risk of injury when they are young?

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