In honor of Valentine’s Day (yes, I realize that was almost a week ago, which is when I started writing this post, but only getting around to publishing it now), I thought I’d write a post about partnerships… of the dance variety! Coincidentally, Henrik of Tights and Tiaras and Rebecca of Tendus Under a Palm Tree just posted The Virtual Pas de Deux – A Guide to Partnering (part 1).
In last Sunday’s company class we were working on a new piece for our upcoming show. The director wanted a bit of a pas de deux in the middle of the piece (I’m using the ballet terminology even though the piece is more hip hop than ballet…) involving our token guy and me. After we figured out what we were going to do we started working on it to music (and within the context of the overall piece). We’ve done some cool lifts and stuff before, but this piece is definitely the most dynamic and impressive bit we’ve worked on to date.
During the first full-out run-through of the piece I experienced a brief moment of panic as I spun towards my partner. It’s one thing to be dancing alone and knowing that your body is in entire control of its motion. It’s another to be dancing with someone else and having to relinquish some of the control to that person. But almost as soon as that fear gripped me I was able to think, nope, it’s okay, he’s got you, and just went for it. Spun, dropped… and caught a glimpse of us in the mirror. It looked… amazing.
And I’m pretty sure that’s in large part related to the fact that I am able to place all my trust in my partner. When you can just go for a move without fear of ending up as road kill it makes the lift/spin/whatever I think it really elevates a move from looking awkward and slightly scary to exhilarating and amazing. The prior weekend I had an experience that really brought home for me how much my trust in my partner plays into what we’re able to do. We had some actors come to our class to show them some lifts they could integrate into the choreography of the musical they’re putting on. They did great for the most part, but when I was practicing lifts with the actors it was hard for me to let go. It’s not that I thought any of them would intentionally drop me, but that bond I take for granted with my partner was missing and I could feel myself being tentative in the lifts and they definitely didn’t go as well as normal. This isn’t to say we haven’t had mishaps with lifts gone wrong, but I always know that he’s got my back (and similarly, if I feel that I’m not in a stable position I won’t let him risk hurting himself).
Similarly… this whole concept of trust really plays into our ability to dance solo. If you doubt your abilities then the body tends to follow the brain. If you can trust that your body will do what you want it to, amazing things can happen. But that’s far easier said than done. I’m still terrified of handstands, which annoys me. If I could get handstands down I could do a lot more cool things with hip-hop, but it remains a mental hurdle I have to clear. Until then, I guess I’ll just have to be satisfied with spinning through the air on my partner’s shoulder. Things could be worse… 😉