Julia Guiheen is a dancer and writer from Morris County, New Jersey. She trained in ballet, jazz, and modern dance at Studio Allegro School of Ballet and is currently pursuing her BFA in dance and strategic communications at Butler University. During the summer of 2017, Julia worked at Pointe as an editorial intern.
Throughout the last quarter of the 10th century Cynthia Harvey was a force in the ballet world. She had the unique distinction of dancing as a principal ballerina on both sides of the Atlantic, with American Ballet Theatre and then at The Royal Ballet, where she was the first American dancer ever to hold that position. A dynamo with impeccable style, her polished technique was matched only by her power. In this 1984 performance of a variation from Paquita, she bursts from the wing with a tidal wave of energy that carries her throughout the entire solo.
Galina Ulanova and Nikolai Fadeyechev in "Giselle." Screenshot via YouTube.
The final moments of Giselle's second act are some of the most hauntingly beautiful in all of ballet: from the pas de deux between Giselle's betrayed spirit and the man she still loves, to the wilis' cold rejection, to Albrecht's heart-wrenching desperation as the curtain closes. The Bolshoi Ballet's late prima ballerina assoluta, Galina Ulanova, is among the most legendary interpreters of the ballet's titular role, admired around the world for her ability to utterly transform into character. Alongside her frequent partner Nikolai Fadeyechev, also a former leading dancer with the Bolshoi, their performance is an offering of sensitivity that stirs us even decades later.
Diana Adams and Irving Davies in "Invitation to the Dance," via YouTube.
Elegant, enigmatic and versatile, Diana Adams was a muse to the choreographic visionaries of her day. She originated roles in works by Agnes de Mille, Antony Tudor, George Balanchine and Gene Kelly, most famously the edgy pas de deux in Balanchine's Agon alongside the recently departed Arthur Mitchell. But outside the ballet world she may be better remembered for her role in Gene Kelly's 1956 film Invitation to the Dance. In a swanky, style-blending duet, Adams's polished pointework and long lines juxtapose British tap dancer and choreographer Irving Davies' suave, grounded style.
The Paris Opéra Ballet, Swan Lake andthe dance of Les Petite Cygnets—could anything in ballet be more iconic? Factor in four beloved French ballerinas dancing as the four little swans and we think not. In this 2006 performance, Fanny Fiat, Myriam Ould-Braham, Mathilde Froustey and Dorothée Gilbert (appearing from left to right in that order) are a testament to the powerful precision that makes this quartet so recognizable.
Kistler, Ananiashvili, Gad and Terekhova in "Pas de Quatre," via YouTube
When Jules Perrot's Pas de Quatre premiered in London in 1845, it was an unprecedented event in the ballet world. Created for four of the greatest ballerinas of the day—Marie Taglioni, Carlotta Grisi, Lucile Grahn and Fanny Cerrito—the ballet was essentially the original "international gala of the stars."
Nearly 150 years later, in a gala starring Georgian ballerina Nina Ananiashvili in 1993, Ananiashvili, Darci Kistler, Rose Gad and Tatiana Terekhova (principals at the Bolshoi Ballet, New York City Ballet, Royal Danish Ballet, and Mariinsky Ballet, respectively) came together, much in the spirit of the original cast, to perform Sir Anton Dolin's reconstructed version of Pas de Quatre. While the ballerinas all have different backgrounds, and each has her own unique style, they share the stage equally, not as a corps, but as four distinct soloists moving in harmony.
Back-to-school blues bumming you out? This minute-long clip of Ekaterina Krysanova dancing the first bridesmaid's variation in Don Quixoteis the perfect pick-me-up. The fiery Krysanova, who was promoted to principal at the Bolshoi Ballet in 2011, is a bright bundle of energy in this punchy solo. Packed with saut de chats and grand jetés, the variation shows offher star potential from the early days of her career. At 0:20, she punctuates her diagonal of spitfire chaînes with a sassy, suspended moment in seconde. Her quick footwork flits along to the musical trills. A performer at heart, as she admitted in 2017 interview with Pointe, Krysanova is clearly unstoppable when she takes the stage. Happy #ThrowbackThursday!
Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn in "Les Sylphides," via YouTube
When Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn began dancing together in the early 1960s, they made an unexpected pair—he was a young, hot-tempered Soviet defector and she was a distinguished prima of The Royal Ballet, 19 years his senior. Yet their partnership (which lasted almost two decades) became one of the most famous in all of ballet. Nureyev said in a documentary about Fonteyn that they danced with "one body, one soul." That connection is evident here in their performance of Michel Fokine's Romantic-style ballet Les Sylphides from a 1963 film.
Irek Mukhhamedov and Viviana Durante in "Manon." Image via YouTube.
Sir Kenneth MacMilllan's ballet Manon tells the story of ill-fated lovers Manon and des Grieux, who are torn between worlds of wealth and opulence and the stark misery of poverty. While the characters' circumstances are bleak, their love is the powerful and redeeming force that carries the ballet. In this clip, The Royal Ballet's Viviana Durante and Irek Mukhamedov bring the characters' passion to the forefront. The powerhouse duo, who danced together throughout the 1990s, were renown for their dramatic prowess; their Act III pas de deux in Manon is an exquisite display of raw emotion and refined technique.