Ballet – one of the most graceful and elegant art forms. The challenge? Making it look effortless.
One of the most difficult parts of ballet is performing a pas de deux, which translates from French to “step of two.” In pas de deux a man and a woman perform a duet together.
Adrianna de Svastich, who will be performing the role of Aurora in the Greater Buffalo Youth Ballet’s “Sleeping Beauty,” describes it as “a conversation between two people, but through movement.”
De Svastich has had over 10 years of professional experience, and recalls one of the first pas de deuxs she performed. She was only 13 years old and remembers being nervous about sharing the responsibility of the movement with another dancer. Sometimes she still finds it a challenge to find the “right balance of give and take.”
DeSvastich’s favorite part of performing a pas de deux is “having fun on stage with her partner and enjoying the moment.”
Two area ballet students, Amelia Waddell, 15, and Lindsey Beck, 14, will be experiencing a similar feeling that de Dvastich did in her first pas de deux in the upcoming performance of From “Sleeping Beauty.” New to pas de deux, the girls will have to work together with their partners for only a short amount of time before the show. They have been preparing with artistic director, Elizabeth DiStasio-Waddell.
Amelia will be meeting her partner the week of the show, leaving her just a few days to prepare. She is nervous about performing her first partnering dance on stage, but is ready for the challenge and hopes to enchant the audience.
Amelia plans on “rehearsing the technique, coordination, and artistry until it becomes second nature” and she doesn’t have to think about the technical aspects anymore.
Lindsey feels that the most challenging part is trying to function as a single unit and dance together as a couple.
“It can be difficult to do this sometimes because of different training, technical backgrounds, or something maybe as simple as height differences,” she said.
To Lindsey, making mistakes is part of the process no matter if you’re in dance, sports or math class. No one can be perfect at something – everything takes hard work.
“A pas de deux takes a strong, trusting connection between the male and female dancers,” said Jeremiah Martinez, 16.
He feels like the challenge of pas de deux is building trust. Partners need to be able to trust each other and not hold back in their dancing.
Jeremiah plans to prepare by continuing to run the dance and memorizing it. He feels excited to perform something that is new to him but has always loved.
Charlotte Worthington, 13, is the youngest dancer who is performing a pas de deux in “Sleeping Beauty”. She says that pas de deux is “an amazing experience that pushes you to become a stronger dancer.”
Charlotte said her challenge is fully trusting her partner and going from doing things by yourself to partnering with someone else.
Aaron Anker, alumni of Indiana University and a dancer with Pennsylvania Ballet, has performed many pas de deuxs.
Reminiscing on his first experience, he remembers feeling nervous but still enthusiastic.
Pas de deux is “an art form in itself,” Anker said. He enjoys it the most because it’s all about teamwork. Partners have to share the responsibility and have the strength to make each other look good.
Annie Mack, 14, will be performing her first partnering role. To prepare, she has been focusing on perfecting her choreography so that when the time comes, she can just focus on coordinating with her partner. Her favorite part is doing pirouettes because with a partner you get to do many more than you normally would on your own.
Maximilien Baud and Andre Vytoptov both have many years of training on their resumes and have experienced what most male dancers’ careers are about. Vytoptov enjoys seeing what his partner brings to the scene and feels honored and completely in the moment whenever he dances.
His challenge is “not being overly critical of his partner” while dancing and rehearsing.
Baud, who will be performing the role of the prince, has had more than 20 years of experience of making his partner move flawlessly across the stage. To him, promenades, where the man slowly turns his partner around while she holds a position, are the hardest part. You need to “have a sixth sense that she in on her leg,” he said. “A pas de deux is like a DJ merging two songs. You need to make sure you are on the same beat or else the audience will tell that there is no connection.”
The hard work and dedication that two dancers put into a pas de deux is hard to quantify . Perfecting each step, turn, lift and jump requires so much control and commitment from each of the dancers. This challenge is turned into a beautiful, graceful performance for everyone to enjoy.
The performance of the Greater Buffalo Youth Ballet’s “Sleeping Beauty” will be at UB Center for the Arts at the Mainstage Theater at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Tickets are $23.50 for adults and $19.50 for children and seniors.
Victoria Wagner is a junior at Wilson High School.