Pairs flying has two important similarities to individual flying, in that you want to show in your performance both good choreography and technical aptitude. In addition, you have many factors that make pairs flying a distinct challenge, the most significant being the compatibility of the flyers. Pairs members should be compatible both personally and technically as flyers. They should be on the same "wave length," for lack of a better phrase; in terms of choice of music, ability to perform basic skills and/or tricks, ideas on pairs techniques to be used, practice schedule and in having similar goals in how deeply into "competition" they want to get.
Let's say you've decided upon a partner and he or she has decided upon you. You've settled on a practice routine (or lack of one, as the case may be!), on where and when to meet and how often, etc. Now what? The big bugaboo that so plagues individual flyers is the very same one that plagues pairs: choice of music! Where can you find that one piece of music that you not only like but that has enough in it to make it an interesting one to perform to in your ballet. Most important of all, you both should like the music. If one of you is really into hip-hop but the other becomes physically ill at the sound of it, scratch it. There's plenty of music out there to choose from. And the good news is that there are many more choices with pairs flying as opposed to individual where you're more limited in what you can choreograph. For example, a straight rock tune, with few pauses or breaks and no clear changes would not be interesting to fly to individually. But a pair could use enough different patterns and moves to be creative and depictive of the music.
Here are a few basic pairs techniques to consider. You should aim to have a few of these techniques at least once in your routine.
As mentioned above, it's very important that your equipment be the same. It's suggested by Dick Bateman that the captain maintain all the equipment, regarding tuning, repairs, etc. This maintains a continuity in the performance of your kites. And even in a pair there is usually a captain, who may or may not call out maneuvers, but who is definitely responsible for say, at kiting events, handing in music, knowing competition rules, and paying all fees for competing. It's actually a good idea to agree on assigned duties so that responsibilities are clearly defined. For example, at events or even when practicing, whose decision will it be to choose which kites to fly and on which lines?
That covers many things you'll want to consider in a pairs team: compatibility of the flyers, choice of music, various pairs techniques and equipment. The main thing now is to go out and put on a good show!
There are many ways of thinking about ballet. What do the judges want? What makes this person better than that person? Why do some, always place in the top three? I didn't think they were so great. Then there is your friend, who comes up to you after the scores get posted and says," boy did you get screwed." Thanks, your check's in the mail. There is no way to know what any particular judging panel thinks. Should I put some tricks in? Or is that too extreme. Should I play it safe and do lots of loops. Or is that too simple. Do I use music the judges will recognize. Or be a little subtle. Some believe you have to keep the judges interested. So if your music is boring you better be able to knock them over the head with you flying skills. Some say, "give them something they can grab onto." Like a song they know, then you can do subtle things, and they'll be able to hear / see it in the song. Nothing is etched in stone! What's good for some judges aren't for others. Some judges may like the way you fly, others may not. So who knows? That's the deal with dual line ballet. You fly the best you can. You'll take out your Ultra and slide and stall and axle and do all those things that make Ultras special. You'll feel you were great, and still come in 5Th, or 9Th or whatever. And you'll get discouraged, and think, "what did I do wrong?" But it just so happens it was the other guy the judges liked better. It's like being a guitar player. You can play like Eddie Van Halen, and not get noticed as much as Keith Richards. Eddie may play better but the crowd likes Keith best. Go Figure!
On to quad ballet, now here is another story. We are, my friends, ballet flyers, artists, Ultra flyers. We are amongst a sea of Revolutions flyers. Judges are used to Rev flyers. Most of them have been looking at Revs doing their stuff for years. Once upon at time there was "quad precision." This game was, (and still is in some countries,) designed for the Rev to fly. I was there, TC was there too. Cool! Well along comes TC and throws a wrench in the works. He says, " Hey guys look at this. I have delta that can do about 85% all the same stuff as a Rev, and guess what, the Rev can do about 85% of the Ultra stuff. How bout' an alternative?" Well some judges freaked out. "HMMMMMM how do we judge this thing? It goes upside down like a Rev. It spins like a Rev. It goes in reverse like a Rev. Was that a dual line move? How about, 'more dual than quad' move??" Some things may be etched in stone! So for a couple of years, (maybe three or four) we have asked the judges to "count our flying lines, you will find there are four of them, a quad kite it is." What's the problem guys? So we have to be judged on a playing field which leans toward Revs. I believe this field is leveling out some, as we continue to make our mark each year, with this alternative, quad ballet kite.
When I was flying Revs I was doing wonderful things. I was placing in the top three in some events. When I went to Ultras I tried to bring that "Rev" way of thinking, and techniques with me. Well my friends, have you ever had a kite laugh in your face? I did. I tried to fly my Ultra like a Rev and it laughed at me. It said "Oh yeah? Think again buddy." I tried to fly with snappy music, and tried to do Rev moves, it didn't work. The judges would look at me and think "Well here's Smith trying to do Rev moves with an Ultra." My scores showed me, we're talking about two different animals. There's no way a Subaru Outback can do what a Jeep Cherokee can do. So I changed my way of thinking, along with my choice of music. I believe Ultras can be a lot more graceful looking in the air than Revs. I think it might be the additional 15% "new quad", or "other than Rev quad", maneuverability, the difference in what was the standard in a Rev quad ballet, and what we can do with the Ultra. You can move it a little bit slower. So you pick music that brings out those qualities. I now fly to Enya, whose music is a lot slower. We are coming in from another direction. Some judges will always judge us against Revs, using that criterion. As for me, coming in 5Th at the AKA in Eastern League MIQ is a big step in knocking on the Rev door, (I won't be the first), and saying "hello". Chuck Connor did the same thing, a couple of years ago. Year after year more Ultra quad competitors, maybe not placing, but coming close, proves to me that just maybe there's more to life than Revs and Deccas (which I think is a Rev hybrid). And I think it's working. But we can't get distraught when a Rev flyer beats us. Who knows.......maybe some person will take the Ultra to the edge and do some really punchy, zippy, fast stuff. I saw my pal, Phil Napier, do some fast stuff in intermediate quad at the NYSKC and he said to me afterwards "boy that was fun". There you have it. I was exhausted after watching him but he was whipping that Ultra around. Pretty neat. I say, in dual line, we're pretty much equal with every one else on the flying field, It's up to the flyer, to razzle dazzle the judges. But, in quad ballet, well what can I say..... It's been an up hill battle. But I think we're almost there. You can't paint without brushes, or play the guitar without strings. All you needs heart, and the proper tools.
Being a musician, I hear a lot of things in music that a lot of other people (judges) don't hear. I'll play a tune over and over to a point where I know it inside out. I'll know where all the beaks are. All the little things. Then I'll go to the flying field and just kick it around. And fly to everything I hear. And I'll think it looks great. Others hear it / see it, and go Duh, why'd he do that?!! This may be a little exaggerated, but sometimes it is the way I feel. I remember flying at BASKC, and I put an axle in a part of the song, and I got nailed for it. Talking to one of the judges afterwards, I was told that they didn't understand why I put it there. I head it. Why didn't they? That's ok. I'm having a good time. People see the kite, people are buying the kite, and people are competing with the kite. It's a wonderful thing, this expression, this art.
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