While it is quite rare to see, there are instances in which a woman lifts man in dance sequences. Traditionally, male dancers are responsible for partnering their female counterparts; however, many female dancers are more than strong enough to lift other dancers as well, both male and female. It is more the traditional dance sequences that stop audiences from seeing many women lifting men than any sort of strength limitation on the part of female dancers.
Essentials for Women Lifting Men
In order to be able to reverse the traditional roles of the man lifting the woman in dance sequences, it is important to address a few factors before even attempting the feat of of a woman lifts man in dance sequence.
Firstly, make sure you have a solid female dancer for the role. While ballerinas must be quite light in order to become professionals (in order to facilitate being lifted, not to mention to wreak less havoc on their own bodies when en pointe), some dancers are stronger than others. While most female dancers are incredibly strong from the waist down, try to find a woman who also has developed arm, back, and shoulder muscles for this special dance sequence.
In addition, you'll want to select a male dancer who is on the lighter side. While all men who dance have to be quite strong in order to perform lifts, male dancers can vary widely in weight. Take height into consideration as well. Not only is a taller dancer harder to lift because of his length, but taller dancers also always weigh more than shorter ones if you assume the same amount of muscular strength.
Before attempting this impressive dance feat, take these basics into consideration. Once you have found a strong woman and a light man, it's time to address how to actually get one body into the air.
Dynamics of Lifting
Dance lifts are quite easy to execute as long as the dancers both have proper form and practice together often. The weight of the dancer going into the air, and the muscle mass of the dancer doing the lifting, are both far less important than getting the dynamics of the move right. Timing is extremely important, as is getting the direction of movement right. In order for a lift to be successful, the dancer going into the air must jump at the right moment, and hold his or her body in the exact position that allows for the standing dancer to properly support the airborne one. Getting these dynamics right takes not only extensive practice, but mainly extensive practice between partners. Through practice, trust develops, and this trust is what allows the airborne dancer to perform optimally during the lifting sequence.
Woman Lifts Man in Dance History
In classical ballet, one of Balanchine's choreographic masterpieces, La Somnambula, a female dancer carries a male one offstage. While this is even more difficult to achieve than a lift because the woman must be able to sustain the weight of the male dancer for a longer period of time, Balanchine's dancers were able to achieve it repeatedly with a little planning and a lot of practice. Of course, the female dancer must be quite strong, and the male one must be fairly light in weight.
Mikhail Baryshnikov, a traditional ballet dancer who has moved in recent decades more and more into the modern expressions of ballet, was seen lifted by female dancers in a 2006 production. This summertime show was a feature of Bard College and was set to the music of Liszt.
In ice dancing, the pair Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizerat are known for their lifts in which she lifts him instead of the other way around. Like in the dance world on stage, ice dancing has traditionally been a realm in which the man lifts the woman, both in stationary situations (traveling in ice dancing), and in airborne 'throwing' moves.
Types of Lifts Ideal for Role Reversal
Because women generally have less muscle mass than men do, and because men are generally heavier than women, role reversal in lifts is not an easy task. To facilitate the effort, choose a lift that is dynamic and fast. For example, choose a lift that begins with a big jump on the part of the airborne dancer, and a lift that does not require the lifted dancer to stay in the air for a long period of time in order to be impressive.
If you prefer a lift in which the man stays in the air for a period of time, then choose a lift where the man can support some of his weight himself. This type of lift might include the man being upside down, and supporting his weight on the bent legs of the woman (imagine a man doing a handstand, not on the ground, but on the legs of a woman).
Choosing these types of lifts, as well as choosing the right woman and the man for the job, will help you achieve the impressive vision of a woman lifting a man in a dance sequence.