Category Archives: pas de deux

The last time I did a fishdive lift, my partner wasn’t even born

How is this for returning to ballet for the first time in more than a year: Class No. 3 this week was a partnering class.

It’s been maybe five or six years since I’ve been in a partnering class. But we never did fishdive lifts in those classes.

The last time I did a fishdive lift was when I was 18 in a partnering-pointe class.

And I am two weeks away from birthday No. 51.

There were four men and four women in the class, counting the 30-something guy who taught the class. The other two guys and all of the girls were about my daughter’s age.

We rotated partners. I’ll be honest, I was nervous. I never really thought I did well in the partnering classes I was in a few years ago.

And partnering girls my daughter’s age has always seemed a little awkward.

But I was pleasantly surprised by how well the class went, and by how fun it was.

Other than the waltz-turn ballroom type combo that I completely butchered, I thought I did OK for an old man who hadn’t been in a partnering class for a few years.

The holding your partner while she did pirouette turns part went better than they ever did when I took those classes from Mr.O back in the day. I always thought I did pretty decent with finger turns and whip turns back in the day, and today was no different.

The weird thing? I can’t remember when my lifts were as good as they were today.

I lifted a girl over my head while she gracefully leaned back. Of the three-non teaching guys, I actually did the best.

And they’re much younger. And assumingly have more upper body strength.

Go figure.

My promenades with my partners en pointe were all in the right direction, which for me is a victory. I’ve often been more than confused doing any thing to the left.

As for the regular classes? I’m still shaking off the rust. My glissades suck, but some parts of my petite allegro arsenal seem to have gotten better.

My pirouettes need a lot of work. Getting back to actually doing a double might be a little harder than I thought.

And for some reason, I’m better at floor than barre. The teacher I’ve had for both classes has been challenging, but her combinations are doable. It’s just my brain has got to get used to putting together the combinations, and then getting the body to do them at the pace I need.

It would help if I could get in a little better shape. It would also help if I cut myself a little slack.

For an old man like me, I think I’ve done OK for the first week.

The neat thing is that maybe a few things I thought were beyond my reach when I quit class last year might be back on the table.

There is the opportunity to perform at this school for an old person like me.

And I’ve done one pas de deux since I returned to class as an adult. I messed up, and wanted one more chance at it.

Maybe if I stick with partnering class, that might be one more opportunity for an old man to do one more simple pas de deux before I really do hang up the ballet shoes.


What ballet has taught me about my faith

Ballet has been more than just a physical, mental activity for me.

It’s evolved into as much a spiritual journey for me as well. It’s really become a major part of my Christian faith. There are times when I dance when it truly becomes a form of worship, a celebration of thanks to the Creator for the mind, body and soul He gave me.

There are times in class when I feel He is the audience. When I do something amazing, I hope it is for His pleasure. I told a friend in class who is also a person of faith that when I stumble around (as I often do), I’m sure I made Jesus laugh.

Through the adagio partnering (pas de deux) classes I took a couple of years ago, I think I learned more about how I want my faith to be in God more than any activity I’ve ever tried.

Just a few things I learned and how they can be applied in my relationship with God.

1. I want a ballerina’s faith: I know that may seen like an odd thing for a guy to say. But when it comes to trust, a ballerina’s faith is fierce. Don’t let the tutu and tiara fool you. Think about this: You’re dancing full out on the stage. You are supposed to end it with a high leap into the arms of your partner … who is behind you … who you cannot see … and trust he will catch you.

Or letting someone pick you up by the thighs and lift you over their head while you try to maintain the perfect line … and having complete faith that your partner’s arms and shoulders won’t give way and sending you crashing to the ground and a serious injury.

Or let someone sling your body around, your head coming very close to the stage, and relying on your partner not to you slip through his fingers.

That’s a let go and let God kind of faith, putting your trust in the hands of a partner that is strong and steady.

I once had that kind of faith when it comes to my relationship with God. I can’t really say that now. But it is a fierce faith that I’d love to have.

2. There is no personal space: Not in a partnering class. Not in our relationship with God.

In a pas de deux class, you are holding, or being held, sometimes by complete strangers, in places that are normally only touched by a most intimate partner. Despite the sanitizer you might put on before class, you are going touch sweat. You’re so close you are going to know whether or not they used deodorant, or perfume

In ballet, you are a lot closer to your partner than you would ever come in just about any other form of dance. If you are taking a partnering class for the first time, your definitely out of your comfort zone.

As a Christian, I truly believe there is no personal space we can keep from God in much the same way. And there are times when I’m completely out of my comfort zone knowing that.

3. You must move in unison: In a pas de deux class or on stage, you’ve got to be in complete step with your partner. If you’re doing a ton be pas de bouree glissade combination that requires your partner to leap and you catch her, one split second off could leave her crashing to the ground.

That happened to me once, with my partner’s mother watching. Fortunately she didn’t get hurt, and I apologized over and over. You get the idea.

As a Christian, you accomplish little if you’re not moving in God’s direction. The same with working with others in a church. If you’re moving in opposite directions and not in unison, you are heading for disaster.

4. Keeping focus: In my one and only pas de deux, my partner (who is also one of my teachers) told me to keep my eyes focused on her, her eyes.

“It sells the audience to the fact that you are completely in love with me,” she said.

If we stay focused on our relationship with God, it sells others on the fact that we really do love Him and are sincere about our faith.

But also keeping focus on your partner makes sure you know where you need to be when you need to be there. If you take your eyes off of her, disaster can happen on stage.

It’s sort of like when Peter sees Jesus walking on water. It took a lot of faith for Peter to get out of the boat to join Him. When he had his eyes on Jesus, he did fine. When took his eyes off the Lord and saw the waves, he began to sink.

Just like you have to stay focused on your partner in class or on stage, as a Christian, you have to stay focused on God to be truly successful in your faith.

Sorry, didn’t mean to wax a little spiritual today.

Bolshoi Pas de deux exam

Partnering class is still the most challenging thing in ballet that I’ve done.