Pas de deux
A pas de deux is a dance duet, usually between a male and a female dancer, who is often dancing en pointe. Pas de deux can be found in various forms of dance, but are particularly common in ballets. This configuration of dancers features many lifts, turns, and poses. The male dancer is usually the supporter of the female dancer, which allows for a wide variety of movements and poses, as can be seen in the video below.
The tempo of the music as well as the movements vary widely. Pas de deux can also portray diverse emotions and often further the telling of the story. An example of this is shown in the video below.
Pas de deux usually consist of an adagio or main pas de deux, a male solo, a female solo, and a short finale (referred to as the coda of the pas de deux). However, a few ballets do not follow in that order or may not contain all these segments, such as La Fille Mal Gardée and the video above from the pas de deux in Act 2 of Swan Lake.
Almost all of the ballets known also have a grand pas de deux. This pas de deux consists of the main characters in the ballet. These grand pas de deux contain, in order, the entrée or introduction, the adagio or main pas de deux, a male solo, a female solo, and the coda. However, some ballets, like La Fille Mal Gardée, do not follow in that order. The video below shows these aspects of a grand pas de deux.
Greskovic, Robert. “Partnering.” In International Encyclopedia of Dance, edited by Selma Jeanne Cohen, Vol. 5, 101-105. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1998.
Hammond, Sandra Noll. “Pas De Deux.” In International Encyclopedia of Dance, edited by Selma Jeanne Cohen, Vol. 5, 105-108. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1998.
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Updated March 25, 2020.