It’s no surprise that in romantic ballets, love presides over each characters’ motivation. But not every story concludes with a joyous marriage. Marius Petipa’s La Bayadère, set in India, reveals the possible complexities once jealousy and betrayal destroy true love. This clip features Gamzatti’s variation from Act III, right before the gods take vengeance on those who have selfishly obtained romance. Former Royal Ballet principal dancer Darcey Bussell captures Gamzatti's character with calm sincerity, foreshadowing her solemn death.
It takes a true artist to deliver the gravity of La Bayadère. Bussell achieves this through her technique alone—moving her limbs as though dancing through water. She perfectly balances a ballerina’s lightness with the weight of fatigue. Most importantly, she proves that she can take on any task, no matter how grave. Bussell had only been a principal dancer for three years at the time of this video in 1991, and would continue to master new ballets and originate roles for Kenneth MacMillan, Twyla Tharp and Christopher Wheeldon before her retirement in 2007. Happy #ThrowbackThursday!
Click here to watch the clip.