Ballet Stars

#TBT: Alessandra Ferri and Mikhail Baryshnikov as Giselle and Albrecht in "Dancers" (1987)

Alessandra Ferri and Mikhail Baryshnikov are two dancers whose physicality and artistic prowess truly pushed ballet to a new level. Their careers have spanned decades and continents, making them icons of the ballet world. In the late 1980s both dancers were working at American Ballet Theatre, Ferri as a principal dancer and Baryshnikov as artistic director and performer, when they co-starred in the 1987 film Dancers, a drama centered around a ballet company that included a staged production of Giselle. This clip from the film shows Ferri and Baryshnikov as Giselle and Albrecht in the last moments of the ballet, highlighting their dramatic chops with up-close camera angles.

Alessandra Ferri and Mikhail Baryshnikov - Last dance of Giselle and Albrecht www.youtube.com


Music mounting in intensity, Albrecht enters for the final coda on the verge of collapse. When Myrtha commands him to continue dancing, Baryshnikov uses his head to throw his entire body into his jumps. Twisting in a suspended relevé at 0:30, he reaches out for Giselle. Ferri enters, an ethereal vision with her long pale arms and dark features shrouded in white tulle. She floats across the stage with Baryshnikov supporting her, as her famously supple feet scoop off the ground. The two tour jeté wildly back and forth, using their back legs to bolster themselves higher into the air. The changing camera angles give an artistic perspective to the ballet's heartrending finale; from the back of the stage we see Ferri and Baryshnikov trapped between the ranks of willis, while filmed from up close, we see their sweat, pumping chests, and the delicate details of their hands and eyes. Happy #ThrowbackThursday!

The Conversation
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Ma Cong in the studio with Tulsa Ballet. Courtesy Tulsa Ballet.

Without him we wouldn't have The Nutcracker, Swan Lake or Sleeping Beauty. But how much do you know about Pytor Ilyich Tchaikovsky, the man behind classical ballet's most recognizable music? Did you know that the Russian composer hid his homosexuality for much of his life? He also struggled with depression; there's been speculation that his death in 1893 was in fact a suicide.

Tulsa Ballet resident choreographer Ma Cong dramatically recounts his life in a new full-length ballet titled Tchaikovsky: The Man Behind the Music, premiering March 29-31. If you think a story ballet about the most renowned composer of story ballets set to, yes, a Tchaikovsky score, is a bit meta, you wouldn't be wrong. But considering the renewed importance of LGBTQ rights in society, it's a ballet perfectly timed to our era. In Russia, censorship still asserts that Tchaikovsky was not gay. The subject also calls to mind backlash surrounding an LGBTQ-themed work at Louisville Ballet just last month.

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The Royal Ballet's Vadim Muntagirov and Marianela Nuñez in La Bayadère. Photo by Bill Cooper, Courtesy ROH.

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Whether live or recorded, the seven ballet programs listed below, streaming now through next October, will deliver all of the magic that The Royal Ballet has to offer straight to your local movie theater. Can you smell the popcorn already?

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