In Sleeping Beauty's Act III wedding pas de deux, the spotlight beams unwaveringly on dancers' technique; Petipa's choreography offers little to no reprieve in softening embraces, no rest in loving caresses. In this clip, Dame Antoinette Sibley—a principal at The Royal Ballet from 1956-1989—and Danish-born international star Peter Schaufuss rise to the occasion. Regal and poised, they perform each step with crystalline purity. Just look at the careful way Sibley places one pointed toe on the floor, as if stepping on glass, to rise from her knee. Schaufuss deftly partners her in the formidable pirouette-fish dive section. At the end, he tosses Sibley in the air and catches her effortlessly with one arm, as if he hadn't just danced some of the most taxing five minutes in classical ballet repertoire.
Sibley was president of The Royal Academy of Dance from 1991-2012, and she still coaches stars at The Royal Ballet. Peter Schaufuss directed the English National Ballet and instituted the company's school before founding his own company, the Peter Schaufuss Ballet. He also seems to have an irrepressible ballet gene in his lineage. His son, Luke, is an artist at the Birmingham Royal Ballet. Happy #ThrowbackThursday!