Wednesday, July 20, 2005


"Did I forget something? It's time for grand allegro, and we still have 20 minutes!"

It's Tuesday morning ballet class, and Suki is puzzled. Usually, we barely have time to do our last activity.

"I think I didn't talk enough today," says Suki, and we all laugh. Often class comes to a standstill as we chat about this and that, or hear stories of Suki's former eccentric teachers.

"OK. So what else shall we do today?" she asks.

"Since we have a boy today, can we do partnering?" I ask.

The "boy" in question is Mike, a large but graceful man who joins us when his busy working schedule allows it. I believe he owns a race car--that kind of guy. He is funny and kids Suki all the time.

So we do partnering, just like the real ballerinas!

We begin with an adagio, a slow combination, and Suki asks me to go first. Mike stands behind me and holds my hips steady as I do passes and an arabesque in releve.

When you watch real ballerinas doing a pas de deux with a partner, it looks like the boy is doing all the work, holding her up and lifting her. What you don't see is how hard she must work! Working on releve, even without pointe shoes, is tough, and of course slow movements are the hardest. It takes immense core strength--my abs ached after class! Still, it sure looked cool! I wish there'd been a camera. Mike and I decide to end with a small jump, and he lifts me high enough to do a few beats with my legs. Cool!

I don't have such success with the allegro movements. Suki has us do tour jetes, turning jumps with Mike lifting us as we move by him. I can do a passable tour jete, but I lose my nerve doign it close to Mike--I'm afraid I'll kick him! Of course, if I do it right, I won't kick him, but still.

Partnering in ballet is fun in the same way sparring is fun. You're not just doing movements perfectly, you're moving in response and along with someone else. You constantly have to adjust what you do, and be sensitive to your partner. I love it.

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