Ballet Careers
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

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Sarasota Ballet's Danielle Brown and Ricardo Rhodes in Ricardo Graziano's Before Night Falls. Photo by Frank Atura, Courtesy Sarasota Ballet.

When former New York City Ballet principal Jonathan Stafford was a young corps member, he remembers taking a big gulp when he was first cast to partner a principal. “I was not strong enough, and she decided after dress rehearsal that I wasn't ready," he says. “So the artistic staff brought back her previous partner." Despite his preparation, Stafford, now an NYCB ballet master, says he understood the decision. But in another casting shake-up later in the run, he was quickly put back in. “The second time around I was a better partner because the pressure of the debut was off and we were both more relaxed."

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In the ballet world, great partnerships are rare. The unique chemistry of a splendid ballerina and her attentive partner can hold audiences spellbound. Witnessing a pas de deux by extraordinarily simpatico dancers can fundamentally change the way one perceives ballet.

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