Virtual Pas de Deux: Questions and Answers PART TWO

Posted by on 02.28.2011

This is it folks, the final Virtual Pas de Deux post: the second installment of Questions and Answers.  Tights and Tiaras author, Henrik Lamark and I have been engaged in a Virtual Pas de Deux where we are bringing you our thoughts and tips on all things related to the art of the Pas de Deux.  If you missed the first installment of the Q&A click on over to Tights and Tiaras!

What do you prefer… solo or partnering?

HL: Definitely partnering! I love the dynamics in a pas de deux, and I like to co-operate with other dancers. It’s just my humble opinion, but solo’s are boring. I don’t mean this as blatant as I say it, but in general, I’ll take a pas de deux over a solo any day. Two dancers together – thats tension! Thats life! And life is interesting!

RK: I agree! Partnering has a much different quality than solo dancing. With a partner you have the energy from the other person close by to feed off it. Also you can encourage each other and elevate each other’s performance. You have someone to share a special onstage moment with. The downside to partnering, is your performance does not rely solely on your execution; there are other factors involved.

HL: That’s true, it adds more unknowns to the equation. But that can go both ways, though, a partner doesn’t necessarily make your performance worse – he or she can make it better, too!


What causes you to lose trust in your partner? Do you start out with full trust or does it have to be earned?

RK: Sometimes when accidents happen, it can be difficult for a woman to regain trust in her partner. Often, this isn’t even a conscious decision. It is just the body’s natural instinct to protect itself against pain and injury. So sometimes the woman doesn’t need to only overcome her fears, but she also needs to allow her body to relax and give into her partner.

HL: Yes, it’s very important to not get hung up in mistakes that happen. Although it’s important to give yourself time to relay after an incident, the best way is to get back and keep rehearsing as fast as possible. I never end a partnering rehearsal with something that didn’t go well – it makes the relationship bad for next time.

RK: That is a wonderful policy. When leaving on a negative note, that allows fear and anxiety to grow over night.

RK: I don’t think any woman starts out a partnering relationship with full trust. She gives him as much trust as she possibly can, while the man must work to earn her full trust. He can do this by proving to be a good partner; by supporting all of her needs, making her comfortable, and working well with her. This is what makes a great partnership; when the woman gives her partner complete trust and control. The couple will be unstoppable!


How does the woman get over the fear of being lifted so high in the air? I don’t know if I could ever get used to that if I were going to become a dancer.

HL: Would you like to take this one, R?

RK: I don’t know if it could even be considered a fear. I have never really been afraid of being lifted high in the air, and I can’t recall knowing a dancer who was. I remember in school, there was a boy who was way over 6 feet tall, and all the girls would fight over him in pas de deux class. We all wanted him to throw us in the air over his head. We would be 7 and a half feet in the air when you added in his arm length and how much he could throw us. I never had so much fun in my life! It felt like I was flying! Again, you are so focused that most times you don’t have enough time to feel scared!


What are good strengthening exercises for men?

RK: This one is for you H!

HL: For partnering, any core strengthening will do you a lot of good. As I mentioned in the partnering post, stability is key. If your core muscles are strong, this is easier to achieve. You might also want to do some squats – and make sure you use those quadriceps in the lifting. It’s not only the arms that does the work, the legs work just as much. After a partnering-rehearsal, I’m always sore in my legs, but not so much in my arms.. I also wrote a post on gym exercises for male dancers you’d might want to read.


Does the shoulder sit cause a lot of shoulder or back injuries? And does the weight of the female partner make a big difference to lifts (I don’t mean 110 pounds versus 190 pounds…..more like differences of 5 pounds?)

HL: Eventually, I guess repeated shoulder lifts can be a reason for stress on your lower back. But I don’t think the lift itself is a reason for most people’s injuries – most of the time, injuries has intricate reasons, not caused by one movement alone. The shoulder sit provides minimal risk for something to “go wrong” too, as you already hold both hands on the girl, and should be able to prevent anything serious from happening.

HL: For the weight, as we discussed above, I think the technique counts more than the weight. Obviously, at some point, everyone has their limits, and weight will eventually be an important factor. But a good jump and strong muscles can make up for a lot of pounds

RK: Exactly. Injuries usually only happen when a step is not executed properly by either party. Men are structurally built for these sorts of things, and I imagine that once the girl is up there on his shoulder, it is a piece of cake. Right H?

HL: Right!


Who would you like to partner with and why?

HL: In a perfect world, I would perform the Swan Lake with Svetlana Zakharova. The only thing that would be the same in that perfect world and this one, would be Svetlana Zakharova
It would be really fun to partner Rebecca sometime though – I mean, in the real world! Seems like we share more than one opinion on partnering, it would be cool to try them out outside cyberspace.. Maybe some day, what do you think, Rebecca?

RK: I agree Henrik! It seems like you are a wonderful partner! I never really thought about this question before, and I am not really sure how to respond. What I would really like is to dance with a great partner consistently over a long period of time, create a great working relationship, and dance great ballets. But then again… who doesn’t want that?!
In conclusion, we would both like to thank you for joining us on this virtual journey.  Please feel free to leave us your thoughts and let us know if you would like to see more collaborations between Henrik and myself.  We want to hear from you dear readers, and as always, bring you what you want to know from the world of professional ballet.

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