Ballet Stars
via YouTube

Back-to-school blues bumming you out? This minute-long clip of Ekaterina Krysanova dancing the first bridesmaid's variation in Don Quixote is 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 off her 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!

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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.

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Ballet Stars
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.

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Ballet Stars
Martine van Hamel as Myrtha in "Giselle," via YouTube

The story of Giselle has emotional power in the way it blurs the lines between good and evil. Myrtha, Queen of the Wilis, is often considered the villainess, but her character is far more complex than the bad guys in most ballets. A wounded spirit determined to protect her companions the only way she knows how, Myrtha is ethereal, yet ruthless. Every ballerina must meet the challenge of the role in her own way. Martine van Hamel, a former American Ballet Theatre principal, brings the opposing forces of Myrtha's nature into harmonious balance in this 1977 clip.


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Screenshot via YouTube

Last summer, Mariinsky Ballet prima ballerina Uliana Lopatkina retired after more than 20 years as a principal. Adored in Russia and by audiences around the world, Lopatkina's virtuosity, elegance and humble presence have been sorely missed. Although best known for powerful interpretations of classical roles like Odette/Odile, Lopatkina also brought unparalleled drama to contemporary works, as in this clip by Dutch choreographer Hans van Manen. Lopatkina performed the austere, but emotionally fraught duet, titled Trois Gnossiennes, with her frequent Mariinsky partner Ivan Kozlov at the Hans van Manen Festival in 2007.

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Ballet Stars

Last week American Ballet Theatre principal Gillian Murphy danced the iconic dual role of Odette/Odile as part of the company's spring season. In preparation for the performance she posted an adorable photo from her childhood on Instagram of her posing in costume as the Black Swan. Murphy also admits that as a young dancer she was determined to master the 32 fouettés, which Odile performs at the climax of the Black Swan pas de deux. Her performance in this clip from a 2005 performance, alongside former ABT principal Angel Corella as Siegfried, makes it obvious as to why this childhood dream role is now one of her signatures.

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Ballet Stars
Carla Fracci in "Giselle," via YouTube.

In the late 1950s and 60s, Italian ballerina Carla Fracci won the world over with her definitive interpretations of romantic ballets like La Sylphide, La Sonnambula, and, of course, Giselle. At just 22 years old, she left her home stage at La Scala in Milan to begin guesting internationally, eventually forming a famous partnership with the dashing danseur Erik Bruhn at American Ballet Theatre. The two appear together in this film of ABT's Giselle, in which Fracci's Act I variation is as near to perfection as any Giselle before or after.

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Ballet Stars

It's been an exciting few weeks in New York City with both American Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet in the midst of their respective seasons at Lincoln Center. With so many homegrown stars in the spotlight, it's wonderful to remember the past generations of dancers who once lit up the same stages and helped shape American ballet into what is it today. One such luminary is former ABT principal Cynthia Gregory, whom Rudolf Nureyev dubbed the "American Prima Ballerina Assoluta." In this 1970's clip of her "Rose Adagio" from The Sleeping Beauty, it's plain to see how she enchanted balletomanes everywhere with her unaffected elegance.

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