The 1980s were an exciting time at the Paris Opéra Ballet, with Rudolf Nureyev as its director and virtuosic étoiles, like Sylvie Guillem and Patrick Dupond, onstage. These two young stars made a dream team. With raw energy and sublime technique, Guillem and Dupond, only 19 and 24 years-old respectively, are brilliant in this 1984 performance of the pas de deux from Le Corsaire.


Dupond enters with a bounding saut de chat and an astonishing, 10-second-long balance in arabesque. He's all bravura, and Guillem is the perfect counterpart, dancing with a lush, luxuriant quality. At 2:42 she rolls down ever so slowly from a pirouette into an arabesque with unflinching control. In their variations, Dupond startles with go-for-broke pirouettes, and Guillem appears to magically pause midair in her jetés and at the top of her ear-high devéloppés à la seconde. The pas de deux is near perfection, except for the tiniest fumble before the final pose that reminds us that these awe-inspiring dancers are human after all. Happy #ThrowbackThursday!

Jayme Thornton for Dance Magazine

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