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Ballet Talk for Dancers

When did DS begin partnering?


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Just out of curiosity, at what age did your DS begin partnering and what did it entail? Also, I wonder if your DS is on the tall side or short side?


At my DC's school they start at about 14. I'm really just interested to hear the experiences of others.

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My boys have been at different studios that do it differently. It's not so much age as it is rushing skills that concerns me. They had Cuban that started lifts way too young. I'd say simple promenades, etc can be done even at 8-10 . Lifts depend greatly on physical maturity which has a wide range in the teen years. My 13 year old was able to do very complicated lifts and catches that his younger brother could not do at 15. Just depends. I think there may be an old post from a teacher on here or a sticky...check to see.

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At 10 he was doing very basic stuff that didn't require lifting. At 12 he started basic lifting but nothing on his shoulder or over his head. When he was almost 14 he started more difficult lifts and shoulder stuff. As he got stronger when he was 14 he started doing overhead stuff but only as much as his strength allowed. Now at 15 he does it all.

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Mine is short and just turned 14. He started this year with simple lifts and promenades and turns, so I guess you can say at 13. Our school has few boys, so it was just opportunistic.


The did start his current peers last year on simple partnering, but my DS was still too new to ballet to join them. There are some pretty good short girls that he can practice with now!

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My son did a little at a summer program when he was 11, and will again this coming summer at 12. He will have partnering once a week at his ballet school starting next fall, he will be almost 13. But at his ballet school, it is by level, not age, and while levels take age into account, there are can be as much as a 4-year age range within a level. I do not believe they are doing any lifts in that level-- too young! My son is tall-for age (he is about 5'5" as a young 12 year old), but his musculature is not mature, and we expect he still has quite a bit of growth ahead of him.

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18yo DS is 6'4". He started simple partnering when he was 10yo. At 16 he was doing Bluebird and now he is doing full pressage. The big leap in lifts came around his 18th birthday when he had clearly stopped growing and had put on muscle after regular gym attendance. His various teachers held him back in this process unlike some shorter and stockier guys.

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My son started pretty early, probably around 12 for simple lifts, 14 for intermediate lifts, and 16 for advanced pas work (with professional-level choreography). He was always tall and had a lot of core and upper-body strength from having been in sports, so he was physically ready. In fact, as a caveat, let me just say that my son is exceptionally strong.


There were some clear disadvantages to being able to partner so early, however, especially at a studio where there are few boys. I felt like his individual technical training was neglected for a couple of years, because the attention was on the pas and no one was terribly worried about how the guy looked. This problem partly corrected itself once my son was old enough to do the male variations in the role of prince. I also had to advocate for him in this regard and take him for extra classes at another studio. He still feels like his variation work is a year behind his pas work.


Another disadvantage is the emotional politics of the pas. He was thrown into studio dramas that are easier to deal with when you are a few years older. There were tunics that simply had to be changed to match the color of the girl's tutu, and girls' bodices that were too slick to grip and and had to be traded out with many tears. There were parents who didn't trust my son not to drop their precious daughter and said so. There were questions about bruising and whether it was his fault for gripping too hard or hers for not having enough core strength. There was resentment when the a.d. selected a girl because she was the right size for my son. And there were times when the girl was terribly mismatched with my son but was selected anyway because of her seniority or technical skill. There were nerves and blame back stage when a pas was not perfect. Et cetera. This is all to say that there are many reasons that pas work is more productive with mature students and should not be rushed. At 17, he has the emotional maturity to handle this drama with grace, and he can cultivate trust with a partner. When he was a 14 year old boy partnering a 16 year old ballerina, that was not the case.


The advantages to having started so early are that he now has real partnering skills and experience that he can take with him to guest performances, to s.i.'s, and to master classes. He gets excellent performance opportunities at his two small pre-pro studios. When guest teachers and choreographers come in, they are often very eager to work with him. I was very pleased with how his partnering skills were used in the end-of-summer show at his s.i. In addition, as he moves into more advanced training and perhaps into a career, he already has confidence in his partnering, which is as hard to acquire as the skills. So, I don't really know if I regret that he started so early. I think my biggest regret is that he didn't start intense variations work at the same time that he started pas work.

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Thanks for sharing this, min. I agree that the emotional component of partnering is something to consider. It'll be interesting to see how this all goes.

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Great topic! My DS12 just started partnering about a month ago. So far, he has mostly done promenades and supported pirouettes. In his last class though, his pas teacher had him do some simple lifts (basically pick girl up in arabesque with bottom leg bent under her before putting her back down - kind of like a fish pose but w/o bending forward).


In the meantime, since starting his pas classes, DS has become highly motivated to improve his upper body strength so he's been working out with his dad. :-) Mostly, they do push-ups, pull-ups and small exercises with 2-5 lb weights. Since he's still pretty young, this is as much as we feel comfortable with him doing, especially since he's in the middle of a growth spurt. This will be his first summer doing an intensive away from home, so he's very worried that he won't be "good enough" in partnering.


Even though DS is just getting started, I can completely appreciate some of what you described, mln. Some of the girls tried to say in the pas class that they didn't want to partner with him because they were afraid he would drop them. The teacher did a good job of nixing that in the bud, letting all of the girls know that he wouldn't tolerate them saying things like that - as he said, it takes TWO people to be partners - but I could tell that it still hurt my son's feelings. :-(


I feel like partnering is the beginning of a whole new kind of dance journey for DS!

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I think it depends what you mean by "partnering". My son began with simple stuff at the age of 13 when he started to dance (e.g. "fishes"). I think he started to do more complicated lifts when he was 15 and went away to a boarding/ballet school.

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I suppose I probably meant lifts and supported movement but in reading the responses, I realize that dancing with a partner as in character dance, etc. is also a form of partnering. I hadn't anticipated the parts about emotional dramas and concerns potential partners would have. It's much more complex a topic than I thought and I am enjoying hearing about the experiences of others.

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My son who just turned 15, wishes he could start partnering without lifts last year, or even the year before, but he will finally start partnering next fall, when he goes up to the next level. He is very short and skinny.

Other boys of average height start at age 14. Our school start partnering late. Don't know why.

Edited by GTLS Designs
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My son did competitive dance from ages 10-14, so he was doing simple partnering (with short and simple carries) from around age 11. But, serious partnering and lifts didn't begin until he was around 15 and developing the size and strength that comes after puberty arrives.


Another hazard of partnering-- My 16 year old son looked into the eyes of his pas de deux partner on the first day of the summer intensive. Apparently it was love at first sight, and the two of them have been inseparable for almost 2 years now. :rolleyes:

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Slhogan - thanks for sharing. I have also wondered about the attraction between partners. I saw a brief glimpse of it. Wonder if it's a sign of things to come.

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  • 1 year later...

A good program won’t have boys lift till they are strong enough.   Partnering can be learned without pushing young teens and tweens to lift.   

Edited by dancemaven
Removed non-first-hand statement.
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