I was given a duet this year, which I was really excited about—my first one! Unfortunately, my duet partner and I are not at the same level. My teacher placed us together, but I am able to do a lot more than she is. (I hate to say “I’m better than her,” but that’s how I feel.) I want to be excited about our routine, but we’ve had to take out some of the harder moves, fun tricks, and technical stuff to make sure it’s on her level. I’m confused why our teacher put us together, and I’m frustrated that I’m being held back. What can I do?
Super frustrating. But the first thing to remember is that this is probably frustrating for your duet partner, too! There’s a chance she realizes that choreography is being changed to suit her needs, and she may feel inferior or self-conscious. So remember to be sensitive to that, and know she’s trying her best. (If she’s slacking or isn’t trying her best, of course, that’s a different discussion, and it’s one to have with your teacher. But let’s assume she’s working her booty off, just like you are.)
It’s likely competition season is still a few weeks or even months away, so before totally freaking out, see how the routine plays out. Give yourselves a few rehearsals to really work through the choreography and see how it all comes together. Your teacher may see that there’s a discrepancy between what the two of you are capable of, and she may make adjustments accordingly.
But if competition is looming and you’re still worried, talk to your teacher. Let her know that you’d like some more challenging moves, or that you’ve been working really hard on your quadruple pirouette and would love a place or chance to show it off. Talk it out privately. She may have a totally different perspective on the situation.
In any case, there’s always something to be learned. The choreography may not be difficult, but you can still make sure every single move you do is spot-on and perfectly executed. Any time you’re dancing is time to work, challenge yourself, and improve. Think about it: We still start every ballet class doing the same pliés and tendús we’ve always done. They don’t get any harder, we just get better!