The coda in Swan Lake's second act can be brutal for the ballerina dancing Odette. She barely has time to catch her breath after her variation before coming back onstage to carry the act's final dramatic minutes. Paris Opéra Ballet étoile Dorothée Gilbert handles the coda with, dare I say, swanlike elegance in this 2007 clip.
It's her deliberateness that I find extraordinary. Of course, we all try to sustain the peak of every arabesque and squeeze more revolutions out of every pirouette. But Gilbert doesn't try. She just does. The part that follows–after her partner, former POB étoile Manuel Legris, gently places Gilbert on her feet–never fails to send shivers down my spine. Having just fallen deeply in love with Siegfried, Odette is torn away from him as Rothbart calls her back. With chilling gravity, she finally resigns to her heartbreaking exit—maybe knowing, right then, the inescapable tragedy that awaits.
The clip was filmed the same year Gilbert was promoted to étoile and two years before Legris retired from the stage. The two continue to inspire, she as a consummate artist, he as the director of Vienna State Ballet. Happy #TBT!