Pas de deux is perhaps the most exciting, uplifting and inspiring part of any ballet and should look graceful and effortlessness. Most classical ballet students look forward with excitement and some nervousness to the day when they can commence pas de deux class little realising how much effort and technique goes into making something that is so technically demanding look so effortless. Here at The Dance Centre Peregian Springs we like to ensure that the girls have good secure pointe work and most importantly a very strong core and back before they are allowed to start their weekly pas de deux classes. The boys should have commenced a strength and body conditioning program and be building a strong core and upper body for the demands of pas de deux. Partner work can be damaging for young boys if their bodies are not ready as pas de deux can often lead to back and shoulder injuries. Students also need to be physiologically ready as well as technically proficient. Starting early with very simple partnering requiring no lifting is a wonderful way to build trust and strength but lifts and demanding technique must not commence until both partners are physically and mentally capable. Pas de deux class for girls is a demanding extension of their pointe and classical ballet classes and is excellent practice for holding sustained positions on pointe as well as gaining confidence in multiple pirouettes. Poor technique will always come to light in pas de deux class as a boy cannot support a girl who is not lifted in her pointes, perfectly placed and well pulled up. One of the biggest mistakes girls can make when starting pas de deux class is in thinking that it is the boy’s job to hold them up or lift them when they cannot jump adequately themselves. Trust, communication and respect between pas de deux students is essential and needs to be encouraged and reinforced in every class as well as the teaching of good eye contact and body awareness. Precise explanation and teaching of all the holds, hand movements, secure grips and clasps is vital and perfection should be insisted upon in every exercise to avoid all risks of injury. Neither partner can ever perform sloppily or be inattentive as this puts both dance students at risk. One lazy moment could end a promising career. When starting out in pas de deux class young students should be taught a partnering mentality. They should now be dancing as one and not as two diverse individuals and they need to learn to move together as well as being aware of each other’s position at all times. Their arm and leg lines must become the same to ensure the beauty and perfection which make pas de deux so fascinating to watch. Styles needs to be the same and personal mannerisms must be left behind. A boy must make sure that he is always there for his partner when she needs him and girls need to learn to trust the boy to be in the correct position when required especially during pirouettes, lifts and catches. As the boy is often placed behind the girl this trust is essential and boys should always anticipate what the girls needs during her movements in case something goes wrong. A good partner can "save" many a slipped or badly landed movement with good anticipatory skills. Both partners should take responsibility for themselves and each other in every move they make.
Jewellery can be very dangerous in pas de deux and should be removed before class and both male and female students should always have clean hands and short finger nails. Girls need to be as precisely groomed as in their regular ballet classes with neat hair in a bun and a simple leotard and tights. Skirts, loose straps or flying hair can be very dangerous and can get caught during pirouettes and lifts. Performing pas de deux is one of the most rewarding aspects of dance and I can precisely recall the
feeling of being effortlessly lifted, the intense excitement and thrill of dangerous lifts and the immense satisfaction of endless pirouettes performed during a ballet. However students should never forget that pas de deux demands the greatest intensity of concentration, sheer hard work and much much more effort then any other aspect of a ballet AND must always give the audience the illusion of being the simplest to perform.