Summertime may be slipping away, but this clip from Sir Frederick Ashton's The Dream will transport you to a warm, enchanted summer evening. In this clip from an American Ballet Theater performance from 2004, Alessandra Ferri and Ethan Stiefel play Titania and Oberon, rulers of the woodland fairy realm from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Nights Dream. At once regal and whimsical, the proud lovers reunite and make peace after a quarrel in this final pas de deux.
Ashton's unique vocabulary and the dancers' exquisite movement quality give this piece an otherworldly dimension that feels like a dream. Stiefel, a former ABT principal, is lithe and agile, tackling unusual sequences of steps with an elegant sense of line. Ferri, currently an international guest artist, is sublimely ethereal—a vision of romanticism, dressed in white with dark hair falling loose. Her sinuous limbs fold this way and that as Stiefel maneuvers her. The pas de deux is full of magical moments, like the linked section beginning at 3:29, in which the dancers mirror each other's movement while simultaneously supporting one another, and the stunning simplicity of Ferri's sissones that melt into Stiefel's arms at 5:22. Happy #ThrowbackThursday!