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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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The Fountain of Youth might be in Italy. Alessandra Ferri may be defying all preconceived notions about the length of ballet careers, but she isn't the first Italian to do so. Carla Fracci, a former prima ballerina at La Scala Ballet and international guest artist, who started her career in the 1950s, didn't stop when convention might have told her to.

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Let's face it—ballet has a lot of death. There's Odette and Siegfried's double suicide, Giselle's famous collapse (not to mention the Willis' revenge on poor Hilarion) and don't even get me started on the body count that Romeo and Juliet's love leaves in its wake. Dramatic death scenes require some serious acting skills, which Italian prima ballerina Carla Fracci delivers in this clip of La Sylphide, filmed for television in 1962. Fracci enacts the Sylph's demise with poetic grace. When James, danced by Danish ballet star Erik Bruhn, wraps the cursed scarf around the Sylph, death comes upon her gently, dawning rather than striking. Her diaphanous wings drop one by one and, with a furrowed brow, she gestures longingly towards the heavens that she'll never fly towards again.

Erik Bruhn & Carla Fracci dance La Sylphide (vaimusic.com) www.youtube.com

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