Partner Work

The one thing that I don’t love about my pre-natal yoga class is the Partnered Exercise.
You know, you’re all up in your yoga bubble, and then the teacher says, “ok! Pick a partner and find a spot by the wall!”
And you’re immediately filled with that awful Middle-School Feeling of Oh Gawd Nobody Will Be My Partner I will Have To Square-Dance With The Teacher Again.
Srsly, why do they even try teaching square-dance in middle school?
Anyway, you manage to get over the Middle-School Feeling, because you are an adult and all, and you turn to the pregnant lady beside you and say, “Wanna be my partner?” and you see a flash of relief in her eyes as she says Sure and you’re pretty sure that maybe she had also been freaking out about whether she would have to square-dance with the teacher again,
and then you do the partnered exercise and most of the time it doesn’t really work and it’s not a great experience in helping eachother because people in general are nice and respectful of other people’s space and are hesitant to really press hard into the small of their partner’s back like they’re supposed to, for example, because, like, they don’t know you and plus there’s a baby in there, so they’re afraid to really Partner.
Came home one night after class and was telling Mr. Adult Beginner how much I dread the partnered exercise, but how I feel bad about dreading it and how, like, maybe since I’m making a human I should try to be, like, nicer and more open and generous toward human kind or whatever and he just looked annoyed at the whole idea and was like, “Why.” and I was like I Love This Man.
But anyway the other day me and my Partnered Exercise partner were standing on her mat, hip to hip, looking out the window at the trees.
Doing tree pose.
But with arms around back of each other’s waists, standing legs side-by-side, folded legs pointing away from our double tree, struggling to get our balance together,
Which was really hard, and really frustrating, because alone we could both do tree no problem. But together, it was a total fight between uh oh, she’s leaning, uh oh, I overcompensated for her lean, now I’m pulling her waist too hard, ah! quick, pull up through the leg! Save it! Save the tree!
And then somehow we both kind of found a way to stand together that wasn’t quite standing solo with the arm draped around, but wasn’t quite totally leaning on each other.
And we stared out the window.
And I wondered if that’s how it is for pas de deux, or for any partner work in ballet. Like, having to get over the frustration of figuring out how to do things with another person that you know you can do on your own, easy, and maybe worries about their personal space and wanting to be polite and respectful and not too aggressive but needing to get the task done and finding a way to work together without collapsing into each other.

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About adultbeginner

Had my first ballet class Ever at the advanced age of thirty-two. Yikes.
This entry was posted in ce n'est pas une mom blog, Technique and Class and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Partner Work

  1. chrisgo says:

    Before I found ballet the most instruction I had ever received in any form of dance was square dancing. We did it in P.E. nearly every year from about third grade and well into junior high, none of that middle school stuff for me. Oh how I disliked it, why in the world were we doing so outdated and uncool? Why couldnt we do something cool like break dancing, I’d rather pop and lock than do-c-do. I avoided ever having to dance with our coach though and on occasion I got paired up with the cute girls.

    • Almost seems kinder to start square dance at third grade, instead of dropping it on a bunch of unsuspecting almost-teenagers when they’re at their Very Most Awkward.
      High-fives to us for making it through and finding ballet.

  2. Dave says:

    I think PdD work is a bit like that but with some slight differences. Definitely the first few practices have always been a bit awkward as we try to work out how our bodies ‘fit’ together. I’ve found the hardest time though is if the girl doesn’t ‘submit’ to the guy. Now I know that sounds all kinds of creepy 18th-century wrong, but what I mean is that the guy is in control during PdD work. He decides when things start and stop, how many pirouettes the girl will do etc. I think some girls find this loss of control a bit terrifying and tense up or try to resist which makes life harder. Does that make any sense?

  3. Joyce says:

    This is such a lovely post. Totally inspiring me to do a post on partnering in yoga over the weekend maybe.

    I really used to hate partnering in yoga. Touching, strangers, sweat, ew! However, since doing my teacher training, I’ve had some pretty awesome partnering sessions. It’s like, yes, I can do a perfect tree pose on my own, but how is that fun or challenging? After all, I am a grown ass woman pretending to be a tree…it’s not so serious. So now I am more open to closing my eyes, waving my arms, coming onto my toes or even partnering in tree. And if I fall, I fall. Instead of trying to think of it as perfecting tree, I think of it as playing with an inquiry of tree and finding a new edge. I know this is totally a yoga and not ballet attitude, and you probably hate it!

  4. Jen says:

    Ohh. This post! You somehow always talk about things that I’ve had on my mind for a while but don’t know how to verbalise. The last paragraph just made my spirits soar, it’s so well put.

    That is how partner work feels to me in circus acrobalancing too. If you’re lucky enough to have a regular partner, then one of the greatest joys I find with partner work is that it becomes about getting to know your partner’s strengths and weaknesses, trusting them and also growing with them. In acro, the flyer gets unceremoniously dropped a lot more than in yoga or ballet, because it’s so tricks-based! So it’s great if you actually like your partner as a person too, helps with not holding grudges!

    I am loving your pregnancy posts! My fiancé just told me he’s ready to have a baby whenever, and I’m all, noooo, not ready to stop training! Your hard core yoga posts make me feel so much better :)

  5. rebekah says:

    well i cant really comment on pre-natal yoga partnering, but i can say that dancing with many pas de deux partners has taught me some very important ‘people skllis’. especially when you have a partner who you struggle to connect with….
    knowing that no matter what you have to go on stage with them and you have to keep them happy enough that they wont be tempted to drop you….even if you hate each others guts …..
    i’ve also danced with partners who were not technically the best but i always had the most fun with them on stage.

    also, there is no personal space in pas de deux…..sometimes my fiancee (non-dancer) gets a bit territorial when he see’s pictures or watches the ballet…..i tell him it doesnt matter, in pas de deux you can not feel inhibited by personal boundaries or it would be a disaster!!!!!

  6. Carla Escoda says:

    I don’t think partnering in ballet is like partnering in real life or yoga or Lamaze or any of that stuff… you don’t have to LIKE your partner. It’s called Acting.

    Unfortunately, many people – like the producers of ‘Black Swan’ – don’t think of dancers as trained actors. But from your very first role as a plucky mouse in the Nutcracker, to a menacing Wili in Giselle, and – if you’re lucky – an arrogant Gamzatti in Bayadère, you are being trained to convince an audience that you ARE that character. Ballet training is not over when you nail the 32 fouettés.

    So when you’re dancing with that guy you don’t particularly like, you’re expected to fake the impression that there is no one else in the world whose arms you’d rather be in at that moment than his.

    Above all the other qualities you might desire in a partner, dancers want COMPETENCE. You don’t have to like him – you just have to have confidence that he can keep you on your balance through that tricky promenade, and that he knows how to make you look good.

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