Learning to PDD

PDD is short for Pas De Deux. A dance for two. It could be M F or F F or even M M. It’s not gender specific. I got to experience 3 days of PDD and it was just too short and sweet.

Day one had us get adjusted to our partner and our partner us. As a female en pointe we had to hold our balance and our positions tightly. We had to be comfortable being touched and manipulated. This sounds strange but I’m a touchy feely person and I don’t mean to be all “hey, touchy touchy – sexy sexy” I just have limited personal bubble space. If it’s a place though, like a club, where I shouldn’t be touched inappropriately then I throw some punches and some bad words. Anyways. We rotated amongst partners because lets face it, girls like ballet more. Though I hear there’s a growing trend of boys enrolling into ballet again 😀

First we went to sous sous and our partners grasped us by the waist. You have to firmly lock your body, I like to imagine it to the game red light green light. When you have to stay firm it’s red light. Every muscle in your body is frozen and you can’t move again until you get the green. There are exceptions of course but it’s just the idea. So you have to engage all your muscles to stay frozen. Your core needs to be rock solid, your back needs to be firm and held, your butt needs to be squeezing that toosh and your legs need to be fast and tight. Now the guys do a balance test. This requires them tipping your forward, backwards, and side to side while you stay completely solid en pointe sous sous. I imagined I was a 2×4″ or a pole. He literally would tilt me to the front of my pointe shoe and then bring me back to balance on both toes, or all the way to the back of my one pointe shoe, etc. He was very good!

THIS WAS SO MUCH FUN. I was lucky to start out with the professional dancer since he understood partnering. It was a little frustrating to be with beginner male partners because they would make me fall off pointe of catch me in a way that would twist or hurt me and that’s not fun. I didn’t mean to be rude or incredulous but I think I came off that way.

We ramped it up quickly by doing piques to arabesque turns/promenades. You pique into them, you grasp their hands like a barre (so not really grasping but palms down!) they balance you and hold your weight. It can’t be too forward or too far back, they have to read your body by your applied pressure and your balance. It takes time and experience for a partner to figure your balance. Your challenge is to hold your balance in the right spot. Many a times you end up saying forward or back and it kind of confuses the guys. I would have guys drift backwards/away from me so my weight would shift forward and forward and then I’d be falling into them. Anyways, promenades. You’re in pique arabesque. One foot established with your weight, your other foot in the air, your arms outstretched and supported by your partner in 2nd and then you red light! STAY STIFF. Your partner then steps in a circle and rotates you on your pointe! After the promenade you finish in sous sous and roll down and ta-da!

We did attitudes too, where you come up to their shoulder in pique, attitude, place your weight on their shoulder with your one arm and raise the other arm in attitude 5th. This was hard because as soon as your arm goes up it wants to twist your upper torso backwards, so you have to have a strong core and back muscles to keep you in place. Then maybe your partner could turn around and you’re face to face but he’s kneeling and you developé your attitude foot onto his shoulder and he promenades you around on one pointe again. HAH. FUN!!

We did some leans, where you stay in sous sous leans you to one side and then you have one arm up one arm down and you face towards him when you’re completely tilted. And you think I am a pole. I am a telephone pole. I will not relax my legs.

Second day we got to do leaps! OH GOODNESS!! They use your jump to lift you higher and then they softly bring you back down. You start in 5th, plie, and then zoom!!! You’re in the air. The deeper the plie the better the launch. I had a hard time keeping my legs together, they wanted to changement or something which was stupid. I was also so amazed how high I was that I forgot to plie on the way back down. Which is hard on the guys backs, so don’t do that. We also got to do pirouettes which I suck at. My partner was still trying to figure out my balance on that because I have a tendency to lead with a shoulder which kilters my balance and makes me land funny. So he was having difficulty with me on that. I don’t blame him, poor man!

I was really luck I got to work with Josh most of the time in my partnering. He seemed to like working with me too because we seemed more on the same wave length than others. He danced with so many people though so I’m sure there were plenty of reasons why he liked dancer with other people too! It is extremely nice though to find someone who can manage your balance cooly.

Josh is a wonderful dancer and I’d love to see him dance in person :D… I mean… when I’m not dancing with him. In… another piece kind of thing.

We learned our choreography through out class which included a lot of the elements they were teaching us. I was in the basic PDD class so the other PDD class actually had a combination that goes across the floor. Simple tombé pas de bourre glissade I think they did a series of echappes and passe releves. The guy has to follow the lady doing this and hold her waist at the right time so when she leaps, like in the glissade she has a moment of balloné/floating appearance. It was I think more challenging to the men than the women 😀

Overall, I would simply go back to the dance camp JUST for PDD if I could. Many schools in my area have very few boys so there is very little opportunity for me to PDD. SIGH. Personally I like to perform solo. I like the stage and the audience to myself. I do not enjoy being part of the corps. Dancing though in a PDD, is wonderful. It is exciting and exhilarating and different from corps where everyone has to look like each other. PDD is where you work as a team and work as an individual to make a dance that is often gorgeous. I love it I love it I love it.

We only had 2 hours each class and it was filled with basic maneuvers needed for the choreography and then choreography. Very short and sweet.

6 thoughts on “Learning to PDD

  1. Aahwwww this sounds amazing!!! I wish we had a couple of nice, strong men in our ballet class to partner with! Unfortunately, no men… and the only one we did have was smaller than most girls in our class, haha!

  2. This is a very good read. You covered a lot of the challenges of PDD. It is a lot of fun, but also a lot of hard work. I’ve done the pas de bourree glissade (leap or lift) combination, and timing is absolutely everything,

    FYI: Please don’t take this the wrong way, but the opposite is also true for the guy who is a beginner. It’s easier for them to work with a partner with more experience, too (they can convey to their partners what their partner needs to correct, actually start off balanced because some ladies don’t, they also know they’re supposed to jump during some lifts instead of just being picked up …ect).

    And the vibe you send off working with a partner can also either make things better than you think it’s going to go … or worse.

    Even the best partners were beginners at some point.

    • Absolutely right. No doubt I wasn’t fun to work with hahahaha! Honestly though I tried my best working with the inexperienced pdd partners. I tried to keep my balance steady and do what was instructed. I remember one of my partners seemed to be swallowing his learning experience by the gallon he was so concentrated. No doubt if I was a more experienced partner I could easily help and correct but that wasn’t the case.
      Thanks for commenting 🙂

      • It’s a lot to take it. And when people watch a pas on stage, I don’t know if people truly appreciate how much effort goes into it. The one pas I’ve performed, my partner was one of our teachers who danced professionally with ABT. She was truly amazing, and Learned so much from her.

  3. Good on ya for creating a post and attempting to use proper terminology as opposed to saying ‘tight releve in 5th’. However if you do this please learn how to spell it. It’s sous sus or sus-sous most definitely not sous sous! And something you write about 50 times in a post at least learn to how to spell it.

    • Saying “tight relevé in 5th” would be technical jargon. Using French terminology is an attempt to learn and be consistent in the vocabulary of ballet. A lot of us beginner dancers struggle with pronunciation and spelling and we try our best. A lot of my entries have poor spelling and grammar overall.
      It’s not my intention to be disrespectful or misleading with my spelling.
      There’s no need to be exasperated at my attempt to spell when I at least got half of it right. Politely critiquing me in the proper spelling may have been kinder. Not a back handed compliment.

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