In building pair balances there are basic families of stunts from which to build upon. The possibilities are multiplied with the number of people participating in the stunt. Thus variations have no end. To keep it simple, then, the basic stunts are presented in pairs.
Stand on Hands and Knees
The simplest balance is for the base to get on hands and knees while the top stands upon the hips. In all balances the bones of all partners should line up vertically. In this stunt the top can stand on the hips so that the top’s bones line up with the hips and thighs, or upon the shoulders for the arm’s of the base and the body of the top line up. Standing on the spine is dangerous since there is no support under the back bone. The top can face either way or do headstands or handstands on the base. If the base reversed herself with her stomach up, then she would be in a table position, thus changing the nature of the balance.
When learning stunts, many skills can be done low to the ground. Here the top stands upon the hip while the base stands with back leaning forward, braced by hands on knees. Often the base will bend her knees for better control of the balance. When learning the stunt, a pony sit is usually taught first followed by a climb to a stand. But experienced athletes can mount in a variety of ways. As with the other stunts the top can face either way, stand sideways, lunge forward, do headstands, handstands or straddle levers followed by a press to handstand, and so on. A third can be added for bracing, or a matching pair for a symmetrical pyramid.
Birds, or swans, refer to the top position. Birds can face the base, face away in reverse, can be on the back or on the stomach. Legs can vary, back can arch to bird’s nest, and arms can be placed many ways. The base can use the feet as in this illustration to support the top, or the hands. The base can lay on her back for either feet or hands support, or kneel, lunge, or stand straight up.
Hand Knee Shoulder
Similar to learning a headstand, the hand-knee shoulder balance is one of the first inverted skills for the top to experience. The base, laying on her back, should brace her legs so the knees don’t wobble for the support. There are several ways to mount. An easy mount for the top is for her to straddle the base’s stomach. place her shoulders in the bases hands, reach between her legs to put her hands on the bases knees, then climb up with one foot on a knee followed by the second. From the tuck she slowly opens her legs to the shoulder stand. The base controls the balance in all balances. The top should tighten her body.
Reverse Thigh Stand
Thigh stands are intermediate skills. It can be taught with the base seated on her knees. Then the base can sit on a box. After they understand the skill they can climb up without props. The top can face the partner, face away, or perform elbow stands or handstands on the thighs. The base can also lunge for a stand on one leg or a 2:1 (two hands on one support point). As with all balances, a third partner can be added or more to create a vast variety of pyramid combinations.
As the height of the skills progress, the skill should be taught low to the floor first. The base can sit on her knees while the top practices stepping on the thigh then to the shoulder. Then the base can either stand in second position or lunge sideways for the climb. Top should keep weight of her body over the top while climbing. Top should raise arms as she climbs to giver her a handrail when on the shoulders. Release one hand at a time to hold the back of the calf high up in the knee pit. Pull gently downward and brace head against the shins. Dismount in the front.
Hand to Hand
Hand to hands are the beginning of advanced stunts. This illustration is a bent arm hand to hand. The top can face the base, face away (reverse) and can vary the legs, or arch the back. The base can hold the top at her chest or high over head. The base can move by sitting down or standing up or sliding to splits.
The top can mount the hand to hand in a variety of ways. From a side climb to shoulders or calf mount, or from an inlocate lift, or even from a toss from a dynamic or tempo throw.