Carla Fracci in Coppélia, via YouTube

#TBT: Carla Fracci in "Coppélia" (1971)

The ballet community bid a bittersweet farewell on May 27 when the ever-luminous Italian ballerina Carla Fracci passed away from cancer. Fracci was beloved in Italy and around the world, having started her career at La Scala Ballet in Milan and then guesting internationally with The Royal Ballet, American Ballet Theatre and more. Later in her career, she returned to Italy to direct companies in Naples, Verona and Rome. Fracci performed into her 50s and was renowned for her dramatic abilities and stage presence. In this 1971 clip, she dances Swanilda's Act III variation from Coppélia—a tribute to her talent and generosity as a performer.

Fracci's exuberance and clever musicality in this variation perfectly capture Swanilda's spirit. She playfully accents each closing into fifth position and blends bright, staccato steps with demure port de bras. The variation highlights Fracci's skillful footwork; her pas de bourrés have a distinct personality, with ever so slightly unexpected and satisfying musical timing. In the final diagonal, Fracci performs ballonnés slowly across the floor with a strong, deliberate flick of the toe. Her eyes and smile twinkle with the knowledge of a final crowd-pleasing surprise as she revs up her ballonnés to double tempo to finish the variation. Ms. Fracci, you were truly unforgettable–we will miss you. Happy #ThrowbackThursday.

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