Career Development Plan - Pas de Deux Tips

by Larisa
(Carmel, CA)

Career Development Plan - Pas de Deux Tips

Dear Odette,

My parents are still debating on whether I should switch ballet schools, so when they decide, I'll tell you. :)
My situation is that after I auditioned for Ballet San Jose School Summer Intensive, I was put in Level D (the second to highest level!!!), which means the classes are ballet, jazz, flamenco, character, choreography, pointe, variations, and pas de deux!!!! I'm so nervous about pas de deux!!! Well, not the fact that they're guys, I have 5 brothers. I have no prior partnering experience, so I don't know how to help the guy I'm partnered with lift me or what muscles to strengthen. Do you have any advice? There's only a week till the intensive starts! Thank you soooo much!!!!

P.S.- I measure at about 5'2 and weigh around 90-94 lbs. and I'm 12 yrs old. Is this the normal weight for me? Thank you!!! xxxx


Career Development Plan - Pas de Deux Tips

Reply by Odette

Hello Larisa,

Thank you for contacting me, it is great to hear from you again.

How fantastic you have been put into the second to highest level, this is excellent - well done! It sounds like you are going to have a superb experience on the summer course, the classes offer you a great variety of styles which is very valuable.

It is completely normal to feel nervous about pas de deux, but don't let these nerves inhibit your dancing. Don't forget, the summer course is designed for dancers to learn and have fun so never feel afraid of trying new things or making mistakes, you are there to discover more about dancing. Do not worry you have no partnering experience, but make sure you approach the class with an enthusiastic attitude and I can assure you will learn heaps about the techniques of pas de deux.

There is something called the BMI calculator which is a good way to check if you are a healthy weight. Although, some say this isn't an ideal method for checking dancer's weight, but BMI stands for Body Mass Index and it can measure whether you are a healthy weight for your height. You can easily find a site online to do this. It is natural to feel aware of your weight if you are doing partnering, but try not to get over conscious about this. In both ballet and pas de deux classes, it is more about mastering the various techniques that will allow you appear lighter. So to start with, concentrate on feeling a great sense of length through your body and you will gradually become aware of the many tricks to make it easier for your partner.

I expect you will start with the basics such as your partner supporting you in center practice with releves, echappes or a gentle adage. You want to make sure all your muscles are as torte and strong as possible during the exercises. Try to stay as solid as possible, especially in your core (abdominal muscles).

Here are some extra tips to focus on -

- Barre work prepares you for pas de deux, so during your normal classes keep a light hand on the barre because it will later turn into your partner.

- Don't panic when it comes to pas de deux. Approach each exercise how you would in a usual ballet class, so don't alter your technique or the way you dance just because you have a partner.

- If you do lifts, don't forget to jump! Sometimes the girls forget to jump in lifts and expect the partner do the all work, but you can always give your partner a sense of elevation to help get into the air.

- Make sure you communicate with your partner. Talk to each other and discuss what you can work on to make it feel better. He won't know if you feel off balance or uncomfortable unless you communicate with him.

- Focus on keeping a correct posture and lift upwards. You should always feel as if you are growing taller and taller as if there is something pulling you upwards.

You will absolutely love the opportunity of doing such a diverse amount of classes, so make the most of it and really show yourself as a dancer. Be confident and push yourself in all the classes. Remind yourself of the Seven Secrets, on the 'Seven Secrets of Ballet' page, will give you the key answers of how to thrive in the ballet world.

I love to keep up to date with how you are getting on, thank you for keeping in touch. Please do tell me about the summer intensive too, it would be great to hear all about this fantasic experience.

Best Wishes,


ps. To become the best dancer you can be, learn the Seven Secrets ..... go to my 'Seven Secrets of Ballet' page

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