American Ballet Theatre is in the midst of Le Corsaire this week as part of the company's annual season at the Metropolitan Opera House. One of the ballet's most celebrated and challenging male roles is Ali, the Slave. Daniil Simkin is dancing the part this week. A dancer who never seems to disappoint, Simkin is sure to pull out all the technical stops and dazzle audiences with his charisma (case in point).


Ali is a role that Simkin has been dancing for more than half his life. Before his ABT debut as Ali in 2012, Simkin put together a compilation of himself performing the variation at different stages in his training. Even at 12 years old, Simkin had impressive ballon and bravura. We loved watching him transition from a lanky pre-teen with shaky pirouettes into a confident and graceful performer. The clips show off his signature feather-light jumps, and when he hits the ending pose at 2:05 you can glimpse his already infectious onstage personality. Stick around until the end for an extra, adorable clip of Simkin as a kid. And below, see Simkin's sparkling take on the variation from earlier this week. Happy #ThrowbackThursday!

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Master pointe shoe fitter Josephine Lee of the California-based ThePointeShop chats with Ballet West soloist Chelsea Keefer to hear about how she prepares her pointe shoes. Keefer offers lots of darning tips, and shares all of the unusual ways that she uses rosin.

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At this point, you'd think we'd all be used to the level of technical absurdity Daniil Simkin achieves when he's playing around in the studio. But then he did this:

...and now we're low-key appalled in the absolute best way.

After we picked our jaws up from the floor, we were inspired to dig up clips of some of our other favorite dancers turning like it's no big deal. Here are just a few standouts.

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Natalia Makarova's version of Swan Lake, staged in the 1980s for London Festival Ballet (now the English National Ballet), incorporates a pas de quatre choreographed by Sir Fredrick Ashton into the ballet's opening act. Leanne Benjamin, then just 24 and a principal with the company, dances among the couples in this clip from a 1988 film of the ballet. The burgeoning ballerina shines in her minute-long solo, tackling intricate footwork with intelligence and spirit that foreshadow her formidable, two-decade career as a principal of The Royal Ballet.

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