How It's Done: Slave No More

Published in the April/May 2014 issue.

A moment of celebration: Viktoria Tereshkina as Medora. Photo by N. Razina.

Le Corsaire is known as a ballet for flashy tricks—but the best dancers find a way to bring more to the choreography. Here, Mariinsky Ballet principal Viktoria Tereshkina gives her advice on Medora’s variation from the famous second-act pas de trois.


1: Remember the Plot
The variation may be a gala favorite, but Le Corsaire’s eccentric plot holds important clues to the mood the character conveys. “It’s a moment of celebration,” Tereshkina says. “According to the story, Conrad and Ali have just saved Medora, a young Greek girl, from slavery. She’s in love with Conrad, and the variation is an expression of her happiness. A smile is mandatory!”


2: Turning Fest
Medora’s variation is a marathon of turns. “The legs have to be extra-sharp, but don’t use too much force, and don’t hurry,” she says. “For the turns à la seconde, step into them very calmly and lift your leg while you’re still in plié. It will help your balance.”


3: Precise Musicality
“Accents are crucial. It’s a lively variation, and I always try to highlight specific notes with my hands and shoulders,” Tereshkina explains. “During the first diagonal, the turns into arabesque look better with a light flick of the hand to finish the movement.”


4: Passé Flourishes
The long series of passés toward the middle of the variation can drag. To keep it interesting, Tereshkina plays with the ports de bras. “There are variants. You can raise your arms to fifth early on, or wait until later, for instance. Don’t improvise, though: Whichever version you choose, rehearse it thoroughly in the studio first.”