He may appear baby-faced in this clip from the 2005 Helsinki International Ballet Competition, but 17-year-old Daniil Simkin already dances like a fully formed prince. In Basilio’s variation from Don Quixote (which won him the Grand Prix), Simkin displays the maturity and control of a dancer twice his age. Every step is precisely executed. He spins like a top and lands on a dime, but the trick-to-trick feeling of many male variations is nowhere to be found in Simkin’s playful musicality and transitions.
And I love that we can see the American Ballet Theatre principal’s characteristic spunk. A quick zoom on his face before a pirouette shows his subdued smile—like he’s suppressing glee to maintain Basilio’s proud expression. Not that he doesn’t do the character justice. After the final pirouette to a double tour, Simkin lands, rond de jambs his leg and finishes with crackling Spanish flare. Happy #ThrowbackThursday!