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.


Manon's final scene, set in a Louisiana bayou, is reminiscent of the moonlit settings in so many ballets, yet there is no supernatural element here; the pas de deux is utterly, and tragically, human. The couple, after Manon's arrest in France and deportation to America, is now on the run. Exhausted and weak, Manon clings desperately to des Grieux. Durante appears as though she's slowly collapsing with each step, despite highly technical choreography. She conceals her strength with languid legs and a limp upper body. Mukhamedov, on the other hand, shows his vigor by manipulating Durante through difficult partnering feats, especially at 1:07 when he tosses her into a tour en l'air and catches her. Although heartbreaking, Mukhamedov's anguished pleading over Manon's body as the curtain closes bring the ballet to a cathartic climax. Happy #ThrowbackThursday!

Viral Videos

Buying your first pair of pointe shoes is a huge milestone. Below, ThePointeShop's Josephine Lee gives some of her top tips on finding the best fit for first time pointe shoe wearers.

Keep reading... Show less
Viral Videos

In this video ThePointeShop's Josephine Lee may not be giving her usual pointe shoe advice, but she is putting pointe shoes to good use... in the classic wedding shoe game. She plays with newly engaged Ballet West dancers Beckanne Sisk and Chase O'Connell to find out how well the couple knows each other.

Keep reading... Show less
Ballet Stars

Noëlla Pontois, the striking, lithe and fiercely technical former étoile of the Paris Opera Ballet, was renown for her interpretation of aristocratic roles in 19th-century ballets. In this 1983 performance from Rudolf Nureyev's production of Raymonda, Pontois is at her most imperious and entrancing in the title role's wedding variation.

Keep reading... Show less
Viral Videos

Have small heels? Josephine Lee of the California-based ThePointeShop gives her top tips on finding the best fitting pointe shoes for when your heel tends to slide around.

Keep reading... Show less