Pas de deux
The pas de deux first featured in the ballet of the early eighteenth century, when an entree to an opera or ballet would involve a couple performing identical dance steps, perhaps holding hands or separately. Throughout the Baroque period the form developed to show more dramatic content: for instance in John Weaver's The Loves of Mars and Venus of 1717 the character of Mars was told to represent "Gallantry, respect, ardent love and adoration" while Venus was instructed to show "bashfulness, reciprocal Love, and wishing Looks".
In the late 18th and early 19th century a Romantic pas de deux developed involving closer physical contact, ballerinas pointing on their toes in the hands of their partners. As the 19th century progressed the form became a showcase for the skills of the increasingly sophisticated ballerina.
The ballets of the late 19th Century, particularly of those of Marius Petipa at the Imperial Theatre of St. Petersburg, introduced the concept of the grand pas de deux, which often formed a climactic moment of a scene or a whole performance. This involved a consistent format of entree and adagio by both male and female leaders, and then virtuosic solos first by the male and then by the female dancer, followed by a finale. This kind of dance, as found in Nutcracker and Swan Lake, was often performed separately from the remainder of the ballet.
The grand pas de deux never became an entirely rigid structure, and during the twentieth century became more integrated with the progress of the story in the ballet, with a growing amount of acrobatic content.
The pas de deux also has symbolic content. As a dance which is deeply physical but also contains an equality of male and female dancers, it has been seen to symbolise the partnership inherent in love.
Notable Pas de deux
- The Black Swan Pas de deux from the third scene of Swan Lake.
- The Bluebird Pas de deux from the third act of The Sleeping Beauty
- The Diane and Actéon Pas de deux
- Grand Pas Classique
- The Flower Festival at Genzano Pas de deux
- La Sylphide Pas de deux from the ballet "La Sylphide" ("Sylfiden").
- The Le corsaire pas de deux.
- Don Quixote Grand Pas de deux.
- Spring Waters. Choreography by Asaf Messerer. Music by Sergei Rachmaninoff (from his Song for Voice and Piano - opus 14/no.11).
- The Nutcracker Pas de deux.
- The Carnival in Venice Pas de deux
- The Talisman Pas de deux
- The Harlequinade Pas de deux
- La fille mal gardée Pas de deux
- Dances for two people of the same sex are referred to as duets and usually do not feature one partner lifting the other
- Cohen, vol 5, p105
- Cohen, vol 5, p106
- Cohen, vol 5, p107
- Cohen, vol 5, p107-8
- Richard Elis and Christine Du Boulay, Partnering - The fundamentals of pas de deux, Wyman & sons 1955
- Anton Dolin, Pas de deux - The Art of Partnering, Dover Publications 1969
- Charles R. Schroeder, Adagio, 1971 Regmar Publishing Co.
- Kenneth Laws and Cynthia Harvey, Physics, Dance and the Pas de Deux, Schirmer books 1994
- Gilbert Serres, Le pas de deux, les portés, Désiris, 2002
- Nikolaij Serebrennikov, Marian Horosko, Pas De Deux: A Textbook on Partnering, University of Florida, 2000
- Suki Schorer, On Balanchine Technique, Partnering section, p. 383, Knopf 1999, ISBN 0-679-45060-2
- Wilfride Piollet - Rendez-vous sur tes barres flexibles - 2° section le pas de deux, L'Une et l'Autre, 2008
- Gilbert Serres, Grands Portés de pas de deux, Désiris, 2008
- 'Cohen, Selma Jean (ed). International Encyclopedia of Dance, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2004.