Ask Amy: Can I Change My Variation to Showcase My Stronger Side?

July 27, 2022

I’ve always felt more comfortable doing everything on my left side. I’m worried because all classical variations are done on the right side, and I’m wondering if I should just ditch practicing things on my left and work overtime on my right? My dance coach says I should just perform variations on my left side, but I’m skeptical. Help! —Anonymous

We all have a better side—I could always turn better to the right and had a higher arabesque on that side, as well. Most people tend to focus more on their stronger side, so I admire your determination to tackle your weaker (right) side head-on!

Your coach has a point, though. Most classical variations are solos, which gives you some wiggle room to make changes and showcase your strengths. Besides, there are a lot of famous “lefties” (Daniil Simkin, anyone?) who perform mainly on that side. If you’re preparing a variation for a competition or an upcoming performance, you should highlight your better side. The audience likely won’t know the difference, and competition judges will understand—in fact, they may even appreciate that you’re being thoughtful about presenting yourself at your best. Being a lefty may even make you stand out to a jury, since it’s less common.

Where you may get into trouble, though, is in group work. Dancers are rarely asked to turn to the left in the corps de ballet, for instance, since most people turn better to the right. And some choreographers and stagers may object to making changes to copyrighted work. So while it’s important to keep your dominant side strong—I certainly wouldn’t “ditch” practicing to the left—you should also continue to work diligently on your weaker right side. Versatility will only help you in your dance career.

Have a question? Send it to Pointe editor in chief and former dancer Amy Brandt at [email protected].