Ballet Careers

Ask Amy: I'm Clashing with My Partner

Communication in the studio leads to a dynamic performance onstage. Here, Danielle Brown with Ricardo Rhodes in Ricardo Graziano's Before Night Falls. Photo by Frank Atura, Courtesy Sarasota Ballet.

Do you have any tips for dealing with a stubborn partner? We both want to succeed, but we can't seem to communicate. —Jesse


You'll never be able to control or change your partner's personality. But you can consider whether you're communicating your needs effectively—especially if you tend to be a people pleaser. If you need your partner to adjust something, speak up. That said, pay attention to your tone and delivery. Blunt criticism ("You're not putting me on my leg!") can put someone on the defensive. Instead, try being more diplomatic, and offer a solution: "I don't feel on my leg here—could you try shifting my weight slightly forward?"

Of course, this can be hard if your partner is overbearing or isn't giving you the same consideration. If he or she won't listen or let you get a word in, talk to them after rehearsal and stand up for yourself.

Notice what works

when you're getting along,

and try to cultivate more of that

during the tense times.

It also helps to find out what makes each other tick. When I had problems with one of my partners, I started paying closer attention to what made him shut down. Eventually I realized that he responded to praise more than I did, and that my relentless perfectionism could feel overwhelming. Once I started giving him more positive reinforcement when things went well, he felt less discouraged during trouble spots. Notice what works when you're getting along, and try to cultivate more of that during the tense times.

Have a question? Send it to Pointe editor and former dancer Amy Brandt at askamy@dancemedia.com.

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Angela Sterling, Courtesy PNB

Your teacher at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Marcia Dale Weary, recently passed away. What impact did she have on you?

I feel deeply indebted to her. She shaped my life's course, and I know that were it not for her, I would not be living out my dream today. She led by example through her remarkable commitment to her work, as well as her genuine kindness and generosity.

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It was an exposure to different schools of thought. We were mostly in the full-lengths, and watching run-throughs of Sleeping Beauty and Don Quixote was revolutionary for me. But I was young and far away from home. That transition was hard. My body started changing. It wanted to be fleshy. Biology is cruel in that way. I desperately wanted to fit in, but it wasn't meant to be.

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