Forum: Ballet / Pas De Deux

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Basic Guide for Pas De Deux (karma: 54)
By dsrutis
On Sat Jul 17, 2004 04:19 AM

Having trouble in pas de deux? May be you have a new partner and are wondering what to tell them? Or you just are looking for help on one thing. Well I have here some tips for pas de deux class for both guys and girls!
I wrote this a while ago, but I figured it's always nice to bring back.
Read both male and female points of view. Don't forget to let your partner read them both too:

<b>For guys:</b>


First and foremost talk to your partner, if you can't communicate, you can't reach the level of partnering that's possible

Every girl is different, take the time to find out what she prefers and don't assume you know.

Never ever think you know where the girl's center of gravity better then her. You don't.

Get use to sweat, there's no reason to hold back. Chances are you're just as sweaty as she is, just deal with it and you'll get use to it.

Armpit lifts seem gross at first, but the more you do them the less you care. I don't even blink anymore when I do them.

There is a type of leo that's very slick and are horrible for partnering, don't be afraid to ask her not to wear that type in pas.

If the girl hits you don't show it. It keeps the girl from feeling bad, and you'll need it when your on stage and that elbow of fist hits your face(I happens A LOT).

Don't wear rings, watches, necklaces and such, there's a story about a guy who did a finger turn with a ring and lost his finger. Cut it right off.

If your hand slips and heads to a spot where... Well... Yeah, chances are she didn't notice, but if you feel bad apologize, and if it happens more then once it's a must, you don't want people thinking it's intentional.

After a lift of sutanue(SP) or pretty much anything give a little bump up, a mild lift of the mid section to help them get on their legs, they may not mention this, but they all want it.


When promenading in arabesque, or any position for that matter, don't watch in the mirror, watch to back of their neck, that's the best place to find their balance.

If anywhere, get her further up on her leg in arabesque. Once again, ask her where she wants to be. Always

Don't push too far forward though, other wise you won't be able to save it.

Don't be afraid to stand close, the closer you are to her the more stable the balance will become, and remember to talk.

When promenading in attitude or arabesque for awhile don't just use your hands, also get close and push her leg with your hip... But she may find this throws her off, so keep talking.

When doing promenades facing each other, LOOK AT EACH OTHER, I've danced with so many girls who just won't look at me, but eye contact helps he face is a good place to see where he balance is, you can see her shoulders and whatnot and that's good. You could look right at her shoulders too, but she might think you're looking at her chest.

When a hand is put in a hand, and the other hand is put on the shoulder, put it on the shoulder, that's the most stable place you can put it.

Keep your legs stable at all times, there are really only a few positions that look good on stage, first, second(With turns), and a short lunge. But only point a foot if you know you can hold her.

Keep both hands on her at all times, unless the teacher tells you otherwise.

In a move that she developes to the front on a bent knee get her balance back, but at the same time lift her ribs to give her the stableness she needs.

Never take your hands off her until you know she can hold her own.


Lifts take time to learn. Not only because you need strength, but because you need to learn hand placement and when to learn and how to do so.

When you lift a girl never ever grip with your fingers, or squeeze her stomach. Think more of using her rib cage as a stopping point(Never actually lift using the rib cage unless the lift calls for it), and ask her what feels best.

When partnering arabesques sotes, put your leading hand on her waist and the following higher up, it'll keep her legs in the right place and keep them from flopping around.

If you can get a 'pop' at the top. That's where at the peak of the lift you bump her up for another three or four inches, letting got for a moment, but always catch her.

It's hella easier to lift someone as they go up for a jump rather then coming down, so always lift with the jump, and never try to join in half way.

If you drop a girl more then once she will never trust you again, so don't drop them.

If for some reason she does fall, go down too, let her land on you. Better you then the floor, at least you're softer then the floor.

Remember, the purpose of the lift isn't to show how strong you are, it's there to make her look as though she's floating and to accent her movements, so don't sacrifice the look of a lift because you want to show off.

In the rare cases a girl cuts one when the lift is happening go on like nothing happened, you can laugh about it later... Don't make her feel bad, but if she brings it up... Well then, go for it.

Shoulder sits are scary for girls the first couple of times, it's tough to sit on a shoulder like that and hold it, but they need your help, keep both hands on them, and don't put them too far forward or too far back on the shoulder, I've seen people fall off both ways. But you can catch both and I've never seen people hit the ground.

DO NOT try a lift like the helicopter or what not until you are strong enough, those take a great deal of arm power to throw the girl up and catch her at the right time, I've seen people come close to hitting the ground, saving them selves with their hands, so be careful and don't do it with out spotters.

The best placement for hands and on a fish is actually to use the arms more, put your hands in front of you middle fingers touching and forearms straight to the side. Now lower your elbows, that's where you need your hands and arms to be, maybe a bit further out, but that's the feeling you want.

Don't point the front foot in a fish unless you're completely stable.

Press lifts:

Press lifts are hard at first, but as you build strength they will get easier. If you don't think you can do them try, you'd be surprised what you can do when you try.

Remember that your hands are always going to slide out a little, so start the placement further in then you wand it to actually be.

For Arabesque presses, get your hand close to the inside of her thigh... Whoa... Not that close, but close. Use the other hand and put on her waist, if your having trouble allow it to slide enough when you lift that you use he ribcage as a stopper, but this might hurt her. Once again talk to her to find out what is comfortable for her. And if all else fails, have her grip the wrist of the hand that is being used for the waist side.

Lift straight up, don't allow it to go back, they could fall over backwards(I've seen it happen) and don't lift forward, other wise you'll stumble off the stage or into the mirror.

Lift with the legs.

Make sure that when you do lift with the legs they're lifting the same time as your arms, and she's going up too, it's a fine art.

She shouldn't have to jump, but if it helps, give it a try.

With lifts like bicycles and torches, you never ever want to lift forward, it has to go straight up, even back in some cases(Not the torch).

With bicycles and torches never leg go of the foot unless she's already up and stable and you know you can hold her, I saw someone leg go of the leg once as the lift was going up... Bam...


These can be scary for all involved, just remember to talk.

Start off simple, an arabesque sote into a fish. Don't try it right away, just have her run up and do an arabesque sote in front of you to make sure she's right in front of you, then when she does it, move fast and catch quick and don't do the fish until you're stable.

Tourjete catches are very fast, very scary and pretty hard, a lot of it is her, but you need to be ready too and catch right away, DO NOT let her hit the ground.


Turns are probably the hardest thing to master, once again talk and practice.

Don't partner up near the rib cage, that'll cause her balance go get wonky, keep it low closer to her hips... In between her waist and hips is best.(But ever girl is different, remember! Talk)

Some girls don't need much help in turns, with those just keep your hands on them and let them spin in between them adjusting if need be.

Don't actually help her increase the number of turns until you've mastered just helping her get around with out falling.

There are quite a few leotards out there that have low backs, also many have crisscrossing bands, which fingers can get caught in, so be carefull and keep a eye out and keep your hands quick.

Chances are if she starts to fall she'll put a leg down, if you can get her back on balance before that happens, you'll be good, but chances are you won't. So if she starts leaning to once side take your foot off the gas and stop the turns.

You're the brakes, not her, and to do so just apply light pressure, never grip.

It's more using the palms of the hands then fingers.

It's fun to see how many you can make her do(My record is 32) but never do it with out her knowing... That's mean and she could hurt you.

She'll be turning her knee out as much as she can, and it's just at right height, so stay back far enough that it doesn't hit you, but close enough you have the strength in your arms to help, and don't stick your bum out to avoid the hit.

If she does hit you with her knee, finish the turns, THEN you can go off to the corner and cry.

Finger turns are hard and easy at the same time, but they take time and practice like everything else.

On finger turns keep her finger right above her head, keep it there, that's her center of balance and if it goes anywhere else she'll follow.


<b>For girls:</b>


As I said with the males, talk, not enough girls talk to their partners, if he doesn't talk with you, at least talk with him, it'll help.

Always pull up through the gut and press down through the earth, feel like a rubber band in the middle section of your body.

Never look down, that adds about 20 pounds to what we have to partner.

Make every move clear so we know what you're doing.

Don't look for his hand, he's the one behind you, he'll find it.

I don't know how it happened, but once when doing a Tourjete catch I had a nail rake my eye and burst a bunch of blood vessels in my cornea, hurt like a mother, so remember to keep your nails short... I know it's hard, but it's safer.

Never wear rings, bracelets and such, fingers can get caught and cut.

When going across the floor don't go faster then the male, feel where he is and how fast he's going, remember we have to stay close you you to keep the lifts and everything as easy as it can be.

The guy is going to be getting close to you and in some moves actually pressing you against him. You feel uncomfortable about this? Well try to get use to this, cause it's impotant in Pas de deux to touch the other person and use their body to get done what you want to get done. So all that touching is necessary, if it's not, well, you'll be able to tell.


Once again, pull up. Unless your body is tight we can't do much with you. It's like partnering a sack of jello.

If the guy is keeping you too far back on your foot tell him to get you forward. Don't expect him to know.

When facing each other look at the guy, chances are he won't think much of it, and it helps him find your balance and you'll have to do it in a show anyway, so do it in class too.

Don't grip his hand, or push down on it, think of the male as the barre, he's not there to hold you up, he's there to help you balance.

Don't move around, more then likely you'll feel off balance and want to put a foot down, don't it's hard not to do I know, but it's so hard for the male to find your balance when you're trying to find it too.

Don't fight over the possition of the arms, you both need to work together and find the place where you both work best.


Jump... Jump, jump, jump, jump, jump! I can't say it enough, if you want to be lifted you have to jump, no girl is too heavy to be lifted. You can make yourself as light as a feather.

If spotters make you feel better ask, but remember you can't have them on stage, so don't get use to using them.

Grand Jetes across the floor don't travel, sure the Glissade does, but that's it, the Jete should go straight up and not move at all, allow the guy to move you.

Another thing to keep in mind with grand jetes is to lean back, don't pitch your upper torso forward, that's increadibly hard to carry.

If the guy is gripping with his fingers tell him, and if that doesn't work show him how you like to be held, and if the problem is still there tell the teacher.

When you first start doing lifts you will most likely get bruises, or at the least you'll get big red marks, don't freak out, they happen to everyone when they start unless their first partner is really good.

Never ever lean forward, your weight doubles when you do that, it's impossible to lift someone who leans their upper body forward.

Don't stick your butt out when you jump, that makes you heavy too.

Keep your eyes up.

Use the arms to help, lift them at the same time as your being lifted.

When coming out a fish or any lift like it, don't just put your foot on the ground, you have to bump it up a bit, it actually helps the guy and looks better.

Shoulder sits:

Shoulder sits are really quite easy once you know what you're doing. Of course they will be scary and uncomfortable at first(I don't know if they ever do become uncomfortable), just remember that if for some reason you fall off, no matter what way you go the guy can catch you.

The tecnichal parts of shoulder sits is difficult, you have to jump as high as you can and then once high enough stick you rear end back(The only time you're allowed to do this). The guy will duck under you and you should make it on his shoulder.

You're going to want to shift your weight around once your up there, because at first it's not going to feel stable, and it won't. But if you move around it only makes it harder for the male, so try not to do that.

If you're not sure how to sit once you're up there go find a chair and sit down on the very edge, balance there in the position that the teached wants, this works very well, trust me.

It's increadibly rare that I shoulder sit goes on the left shoulder(I've never done it), so I'm going to talk like it's on the right here on in.

Wrap the left leg under him. What do I mean? Press it against his ribs and hook it under his arm as best you can, make sure that the other leg is up, bent slightly, keep the foot pointed, don't freak out.

There are a ton of different ways to put the arms, it all depends on what your teacher wants, but the most common is third. Of course if your studio has a really low ceiling don't put your hand through it.

When you're up there, don't lean forward, it'll feel like you're going to fall back, but you're not.

If you're really secure up there chances are that the guy will take one of his hands off of you, most likely the left, don't freak out. Sometimes he'll take his other hand off too, you have to really be in the right place though. If he does do this, don't move around.

Okay, you came, you saw, you squealed on the way up, and now you lift is done, a mistake that a lot of girls make on the way down is they keep leaning forward like they were on the shoulder. Don't. Lean back, he's going to slide you down against his body and if you lean forward you'll fall fast and slam against the floor, not fun if you're on point. So lean back.

Press lifts:

Most of the things that go for regular lifts are the same for press lifts, talk to him about hand placement, hold everything in, keep every thing tight, ect.

Press down the lifted leg. If you don't press against his hand you'll fold like an accordion.

Tell him if his hands are too far out or are too close in, remember to talk.

If ever there was a time you needed to keep you body tight this is it.

Once up there... Don't move, these moves never seem right, and shifting around only makes it harder for the male.

Don't freak out, stay calm, if you don't feel comfortable ask for some spotters, once you know you can do the lift though, try not to use them.

With bicycle lifts it's not a matter of going up, but back, as soon as the lift starts go back, if you go straight up it's hard to do, and if you go forward, it's damn near impossible.


I know, I know, these are scary as hell... But this is where that whole trust thing comes into play.

Don't just start off with the catch. Let him know where you'll be jumping from.

Jump right in front of him. And I mean RIGHT IN FRONT, practically knock him over, if you go the other way and leap too far away from us, it's too hard to catch you and you might hit the ground.

Jump past him, it's easier to catch someone going back then someone to far away.

Jump high! The higher you jump the more time we have to catch and the easier it is.

Finish the move, if you're doing a tourjete catch get to passe quickly, so the guy knows that you're done.


Keep the force low! You don't need as much of the stuff now that you have a guy behind you, think double at the most, unless you're really going for it.

Keep the arms low and over cross the arms, about wrist to wrist, this'll keep you from nailing him in the gut.

Crank out that knee, you won't hit the guy and in you do, it's his fault for not moving.

If the turns are going off to once side ask him why, he may see something you don't, just make sure both you shoulders are even and down, and don't let any part of your arms come up.(I don't know how many times I've almost, and have, been hit)

If turning with arms in fifth, keep stretched through the elbows, these are dangerous weapons and have been known to brake noses and slam into jaws(I haven't gotten a bloody nose yet, but I've had splatters of the red stuff when I blew my nose after a violent elbow attack.

Don't get soggy in the middle.

On finger turns make sure he keeps your hand right above your head.

With finger turns you can push off a little with the low hand, but don't rely on it.

As you turn just put your hand in front of you stomach, about two or three inches away, like your going to shake his hand, let him grab it.

Don't grab his thumb, let him pick which finger he wants to use for finger turns.

If you have a experienced partner, and you're asked to do a whip turn, chances are he's going to do a fast once, and you will freak out. It's only natural. But in order to do them as best you can, keep everything tight, hold the position as best you can.

As the whip turn starts(Either at the waist or with the hands), pull your leg in right away, crank that turn out, keep it connected at the knee, and don't fold in the middle.

Remember that you've given up control once you stepped in front of him, and he's going to do as many turns as he thinks he can get away with, he'll let you know when he's going to stop by putting pressure on your sides to slow you down.

Spot, there's nothing quite as bad as a partner who get's dizzy from not spotting... I haven't had anyone vomit yet, but who knows? It could happen...

Thats all for now, Keep dancing and if you have any questions, feel free to ask


92 Replies to Basic Guide for Pas De Deux

re: Basic Guide for Pas De Deux
By ParisAlmamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Sat Jul 17, 2004 08:28 AM
thats great!!! very informative! karma!!

paris x
re: Basic Guide for Pas De Deux
By FlexisKeymember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Sat Jul 17, 2004 11:58 AM
great tips thanks! nice picture too.
re: Basic Guide for Pas De Deux
By Rubberbandmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Sat Jul 17, 2004 01:29 PM
that was A LOT of great info. thank you soo much. karma
re: Basic Guide for Pas De Deux
By DancingPinkymember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Sat Jul 17, 2004 02:00 PM
Great info, im a girl and i havent started partnering yet but ill use these tips when i do start, thnx!
re: Basic Guide for Pas De Deux
By amarathPremium member
On Sat Jul 17, 2004 05:09 PM
Thank you SO much. I've only done a little bit of pas de deux in my life, so I basically know nothing, other than to jump, to lift up, and to try and trust that the guy doesn't drop you. Thanks so much.

re: Basic Guide for Pas De Deux
By dkbtjbp
On Sat Jul 17, 2004 05:45 PM
thanks for posting this these tips help a lot
re: Basic Guide for Pas De Deux
By mazuchelli
On Sun Jul 18, 2004 12:40 AM
very nice
re: Basic Guide for Pas De Deux
By mazuchelli
On Sun Jul 18, 2004 12:42 AM
Removed by dsrutis (25195) on 2004-07-18 03:28:30 Please do not make a lot of 1 word posts just to get your post number up, this is called star farming and not allowed on
good picture
re: Basic Guide for Pas De Deux
By mazuchelli
On Sun Jul 18, 2004 12:45 AM
re: Basic Guide for Pas De Deux
By mazuchelli
On Sun Jul 18, 2004 12:53 AM
re: Basic Guide for Pas De Deux
By mazuchelli
On Sun Jul 18, 2004 12:57 AM
Removed by dsrutis (25195) on 2004-07-18 03:25:59 Please do not make a lot of 1 word posts just to get your accound number up, this is called star farming and not allowed on
how she can do it???....=?
great picture!!! =D
re: Basic Guide for Pas De Deux
By I_wore_tights
On Sun Jul 18, 2004 11:02 AM
this is great information. i just started partnering again after a long break and its a good reminder.
re: Basic Guide for Pas De Deux
By Aurora2
On Sun Jul 25, 2004 05:53 AM
WOW karma
re: Basic Guide for Pas De Deux
By Peachy
On Fri Jul 30, 2004 12:26 AM
WOW that was awsome thank you so much, i have jsut recently started partnering and i mean so recent that , today was my first class, and this has helped me a lot, letting me get used to the idea of it, and kind of looking ahead thanks again


*we should consider each day lost in which we have not danced at least once*

re: Basic Guide for Pas De Deux
By Lunadelvanalinemember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Tue Aug 03, 2004 01:43 PM
Thankyou! You get my first ever karma :)
re: Basic Guide for Pas De Deux
By SpiralBallet
On Mon Aug 09, 2004 01:13 AM
Karma!!Karma!!Karma!! Thanks a miilion...My school is doing a concert where there are a lot of pas de deux. Now a can show this to my friends and we can understand each other better i guess! Thanks! You are a life saver!
re: Basic Guide for Pas De Deux
By cheertoes89member has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Tue Aug 10, 2004 12:57 PM
This is really helpful for beginners. Wish I had it when i started pdd.
re: Basic Guide for Pas De Deux
By Lady_of_the_lea
On Tue Aug 10, 2004 01:45 PM
KARMA!! For you!! Great advice and practical!!
re: Basic Guide for Pas De Deux
By DancingFool5678
On Fri Aug 13, 2004 03:48 PM
Karma! I knew all of these already, but it would be great for a beginner. I wish I had this a long time ago! Thanks! -DancingFool5678
re: Basic Guide for Pas De Deux
By dancever
On Tue Aug 31, 2004 09:50 PM
woww this is really helpful! thx for posting!
re: Basic Guide for Pas De Deux
By javagurl
On Sun Sep 05, 2004 10:31 AM
that is such great info, i dont do pas de deux, but for a new person u really explained a lot. the illustration was really good too. I think that I might consider taking pas de deux now! It sounds really challenging.
re: Basic Guide for Pas De Deux
By foreverLaur3member has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Tue Sep 21, 2004 12:34 PM
I'm 18 and I just started ballet at the end of summer - but I would LOVE to be able to dance with a partner! I'll keep those tips in mind if I get my wish someday! Thanks!
re: Basic Guide for Pas De Deux
By ebrumalkocmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Wed Sep 22, 2004 02:54 AM
you are great and know this job very well I thýnk
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