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!

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