Pas de Deux Ballet Tips for Girls

Partnering is one of the most exciting, fun, and beautiful parts of ballet. What aspiring ballerina doesn’t want to someday recreate the adagio of Aurora’s wedding, or the spicy Black Swan pas de deux? But before you can perform those legendary duets on stage, you must make it through the all too frightening partnering class.

Instead of lying awake filled with images of missed tour jeté catches or fumbled finger turns, check out these tips on how to become the perfect partner.

Trust your Partner

It may seem obvious and redundant, but the biggest problem a girl can give her partner is to not trust him. Whether it’s a risky lift or a simple promenade, trust that your partner will support you the way he’s supposed to; if he slips up, it isn’t your fault, and he’ll know what to do better for next time.

Every partnership relies on a strong sense of give-and-take to become successful. When you stop (or never start) trusting your partner, it makes things more difficult for both of you.

Hold your Center

Ask any guy what makes a girl an easy partner, and he probably won’t mention her weight. What makes a girl feel light to her partner is her ability to keep her center strong, which allows the guy to more easily lift and support her from every angle.

Having trouble imagining why?

Think of it this way: It’s easier to lift and carry an egg than it is to hold the yolk in your hands. So remember, always keep your abdominals actively engaged, especially in lifts and supported pirouettes!

Don’t Look Down

It’s the one thing you never, ever want to do, regardless of what exercise you’re working on: Looking down in a lift makes you tip forward, which has the dual effect of making you feel heavier and making it harder for your partner to support you; looking down in turns or promenades similarly throws your balance forward, which can be both confusing and difficult for your partner to counteract.

Remember, it’s his job to keep you on balance, but you should be keeping yourself as level and pulled up as possible.

Give Him Control

Any ballerina will admit that the hardest part of partnering is giving up control, but this is also a vital aspect of paired dance—especially in supported turns. This concept relies on both strong communication and your ability to rely on your partner (the trust issue mentioned above).

You have to trust your partner enough to let him control your momentum. You may be going for four supported pirouettes, but if he wants to stop you at three, let him. He’s watching your balance and alignment, and chances are he knows how many clean turns you can do better than even you do.

Likewise, if you’re going for two and he thinks he can get four out of you, go with it. Most men will try and get as many clean turns out of their partner as possible (while staying on the music, of course). So don’t try and end a turn unless you feel him ending it as well.

Hot Tip: Don’t Dress to Kill

No matter how long you’ve been doing pas de deux, remember to never wear dangly jewelry or loose clothing that can get caught or fly off. Also, keep your hair clean and secure; your partner won’t care if you have a triple braided chignon if the pins keep flying out and hitting him in the face on every pirouette!


As mentioned above, communication is important. So, if you find that something isn’t working between you, talk about it. Even the smallest things can make a big difference in your pas de deux and your partnership. It can be uncomfortable to talk about things that aren’t going right, especially if neither of you are very experienced, but the only thing worse than bringing it up is not bringing it up.

If you’re having a problem with him pulling you forward in promenades, for example, try approaching it like this: “Hey, the promenades are looking really good! I think the only thing is I’m feeling a little bit too far forward. Do you think you could let me go back just a little bit?”

By phrasing your concern in a positive, constructive way, you will address the issue without being offensive. Always avoid addressing things angrily or by blaming it all on your partner—it takes two to pas de deux!

Believe in Ballet

Partnering can be a lot to handle, even for the most experienced ballerina. But don’t be overwhelmed! Be confident in your technique, then work on building confidence and trust in your partnership.

And who knows—with the right level of communication and dedication, you may end up being the next Nureyev and Fonteyn!

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