#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!

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