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#TBT: Dorothée Gilbert, Myriam Ould-Braham, Mathilde Froustey and Fanny Fiat in “Swan Lake” (2006)

The Paris Opéra Ballet, Swan Lake and the dance of Les Petite Cygnets—could anything in ballet be more iconic? Factor in four beloved French ballerinas dancing as the four little swans and we think not. In this 2006 performance, Fanny Fiat, Myriam Ould-Braham, Mathilde Froustey and Dorothée Gilbert (appearing from left to right in that order) are a testament to the powerful precision that makes this quartet so recognizable.


With linked hands resting on feathery white tutus, the four dancers appear as a single entity, a delicate ivory chain. Their symmetry never falters; their elbows cross at identical angles and no shoulder ever moves out of line. The dancers' staccato head tilts and bobs complete their transformation into a flock of swans. Generous camera angles zoom in and out, allowing us to see the detail of the dancers' footwork as well as their impeccable spacing from above.

At the time of this performance, these ballerinas were all rising through the ranks of POB. Since then each has had her own remarkable influence on the ballet world. Gilbert and Ould-Braham are now étoiles at the Paris Opéra and Froustey is a principal with San Francisco Ballet. Fiat, after retiring from POB in 2009, co-founded and directs Éléphant Paname, an art collective in Paris that offers open classes to make dance more accessible to all. Happy #ThrowbackThursday!

Viral Videos

Master pointe shoe fitter Josephine Lee of the California-based ThePointeShop chats with Ballet West soloist Chelsea Keefer to hear about how she prepares her pointe shoes. Keefer offers lots of darning tips, and shares all of the unusual ways that she uses rosin.

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At this point, you'd think we'd all be used to the level of technical absurdity Daniil Simkin achieves when he's playing around in the studio. But then he did this:

...and now we're low-key appalled in the absolute best way.

After we picked our jaws up from the floor, we were inspired to dig up clips of some of our other favorite dancers turning like it's no big deal. Here are just a few standouts.

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Natalia Makarova's version of Swan Lake, staged in the 1980s for London Festival Ballet (now the English National Ballet), incorporates a pas de quatre choreographed by Sir Fredrick Ashton into the ballet's opening act. Leanne Benjamin, then just 24 and a principal with the company, dances among the couples in this clip from a 1988 film of the ballet. The burgeoning ballerina shines in her minute-long solo, tackling intricate footwork with intelligence and spirit that foreshadow her formidable, two-decade career as a principal of The Royal Ballet.

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