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 Post subject: Question on pirouettes used in pas de deux
PostPosted: Fri May 02, 2003 6:49 am 
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Joined: Sun Jan 05, 2003 12:01 am
Posts: 78
Location: Gangsterdam
This is a question regarding pirouettes used in pas de deux. I have obviously never done this myself, since I do not study ballet in that sense, but I am very curious as to the technicalities of this particular action. I will try to describe it as best as I can.

When a ballerina is pirouetting (en pointe or otherwise) and it looks as if she is going to do a full turn/double turn, but suddenly she stops midways with her partner holding her still...please explain to me: *who* causes the ballerina to stop at this point?

Does the ballerina do it herself, with the hands to her partner merely resting on her at her middle? Or is it her partner who causes her to stop spinning, effectively halting her in her turn? Is the stop calculated by the ballerina or is it indeed sudden (the partner decides when she is to stop)?

And another question: what effect does this (seemingly?) sudden stop have on the ballerina's balance? Does it cause her to go slightly off-balance? Or does she use the partner to maintain her balance?

Any explanation would be much appreciated. Thanks in advance,

Tex. (pirouette newbie)

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 Post subject: Re: Question on pirouettes used in pas de deux
PostPosted: Fri May 02, 2003 10:39 am 
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Joined: Mon Jan 27, 2003 12:01 am
Posts: 200
Location: New York
When I have done these in the past, it is essentially my partner turning and stopping me. It is important to initiate the turn for your partner and to be on balance in a good solid retire position. The arms will also be closer to the body than you would normally hold them in a pirouette lest you whack him in the ribs as you turn around. I've found that the most important thing in partnering is to not hesitate..your partner needs to develop a sense of your timing. He can't do the work for you. You're the one holding yourself up in a solid position, and he's sort of "guiding" you around. His grip should be fairly loose on your waist.

As far as stopping, I would sort of sense when that would occur (it's either an agreed-upon number of revolutions or else there would be a definite gripping on the waist which told me it's over) It's important at that point to hold the body stable to the front. I'd give an "opening" breath outwards to stabilize the position with a port de bras to second in a simple sequence. Oftentimes, it would go to an attitude back position as well.

I'm talking here about a two-hand on the waist simple pirouette. There are a multitude of ways to turn with a partner. Finger fouettes are commenly done as well, with one arm en haut. I actually found a fouette into pirouette a little easier to do, since you already initiate the turn from a balanced position on one leg. There's less shifting that can happen.

Both your partner and yourself work as a team. You have to develop a sense of how each other uses energy, where your balancing points are etc... I always thought of my partner as "extending" a movement which I myself initiate. He's there for added stability, for lifts, for stuff like that. But he can't be bringing you into a position without your help as well.

As far as your question about balance...it really depends on who's doing the partnering. Ideally, you are holding yourself in the position where you have your natural balance. Your parner learns where this is and lets you hold yourself where it's the most comfortable. I've practiced with men who are slightly less experienced who think they need to do the work for you, and will indeed throw me off balance if they force me into a postion I can't possibly hold on my own. I worked with one person who would bring me out of a fish dive into an arabesque that was WAY to far back. I could barely get my standing leg perpendicular to the floor. Stopping a piouette is basically the same as how you'd do it in the center if you wanted to end in retire or attitude or something. Your partner just gives you a little added support. I always try to "open" my supporting leg side to stop the momentum of the turn.

It takes a lot of practice and a good match. This particular person partnered beautifully with some women.

Maybe one of the guys on the board can fill in technical details of how they execute a supported pirouette.

<small>[ 02 May 2003, 12:51 PM: Message edited by: lampwick ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Question on pirouettes used in pas de deux
PostPosted: Fri May 02, 2003 11:02 am 
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Location: San Francisco
Some woman go into the turn with very little force, and you can see the partner spinning them around. Others supply all the force, and the men make sure they don't get off balance, and that they stop at some point. A good example of the latter is Ekaterina Maximova. She also does great supported fouette turns. I've seen her do them a number of times on video, and she does 8 or 9 turns, beautifully balanced, with her partner not even touching her waist until it's time to stop.


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 Post subject: Re: Question on pirouettes used in pas de deux
PostPosted: Tue May 06, 2003 11:18 am 
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Joined: Wed Apr 12, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 688
Location: Seattle, WA. USA
In partnering, after years of experience, hard work, research, teaching, and performing, I can say with GRRREAT (be sure to roll the "R") authority, that it all depends! ;)

In teaching dancers who are novices to partnering, we do a lot of basic, fundamental things like feeling balances, how and how not to give support, and working together as a "team" (such as timing and harmony of line).

It all involves communication. Yes, decide on and communicate the number of turns before going.

In some cases, the partner is to only guide and then stop his partner but in others he must and should actively turn her.

For the former and using retiré pirouettes as the example, generally the woman turns "into" one of her partners hands (the guide) and he uses the other comes in only as a brake and then both hands use pressure to stop the turning.

I also encourage the guys that I coach to think of aiding in the sense of lifting UP while partnering. Not squeezing or pinching or clutching with the fingers. To try to place the partnering weight or pressure throughout the whole hand and to gently but firmly lift up. Exactly how much to do really does depend on each partner.

Partnering is its, own whole science and needs to be taught and learned like "regular" technique and should be done as often as possible.

It's really fun and something that most dancers look forward to.

Know also that what you see on stage is carefully worked out, practiced and rehearsed -- while having the air of spontaneity.

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