In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email dearkatie@dancespirit.com for a chance to be featured!

Dear Katie,

I really want to improve my pas de deux skills, but there are no boys at my studio—or at any of the studios nearby! How can I practice partnering without a partner?

Caroline

Dear Caroline,

You're not alone! Many girls, myself included, grow up at a studio without boys. But the first rule of partnering is not to depend on the guy to do everything for you. There's plenty you can work on independently that will make you the best partner you can be once your prince appears.

It's especially critical to find and hold your center, so that you can get on your leg without a partner's help. Try out balances and get a feel for proper promenade positions at the barre. To prep for arabesque promenades, for example, face the barre as if it were your partner, piqué up to arabesque on your right leg, and place only your right hand on the barre. Make sure to stay square and keep your back lifted. Stay there for as long as you can, attempt to balance without holding on to the barre, and then repeat on the other side.

You can also prepare for pirouettes by being careful to stay forward in your turns, since falling backwards is the number-one thing that kills partnered pirouettes. And think about going straight up into the turn and straight down out of it. Any leaning or twisting could pull the (currently imaginary) guy over.


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