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!

Ballet Stars

English National Ballet star Alina Cojocaru was still a Royal Ballet principal in 2006 when she guest-starred in the Mariinsky Ballet's production of The Sleeping Beauty. And as this clip of her Aurora proves, she is indeed a vision in Act II's dream scene. Dancing alongside Andrian Fadeyev and Daria Pavlenko as Prince Désiré and the Lilac Fairy, the Romanian ballerina has an air of otherworldly majesty.

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Ballet Stars

A little over a month ago Roberto Bolle gave his final bow with American Ballet Theatre, though thankfully he's not saying goodbye to ballet altogether. After 10 years dancing as a principal with ABT while guesting around the world and at his home company La Scala Ballet, he's now planning to focus on his own galas and projects in Italy. A frequent face in those galas is Polina Semionova, a principal guest with Staatsballett Berlin (and also a former principal with ABT). Semionova and Bolle have danced together for years, and while Bolle is renown for his partnerships with many ballerinas, the two make an exceptionally elegant duo. Here they dance Vladimir Burmeister's Black Swan Pas de Deux at the 2007 Tchaikovsky Gala in Milan.

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Oh, internet challenges...We don't know who starts them or where they come from, but we definitely love it when dancers get involved.

The past few weeks have seen the rise of the #bottlecapchallenge, which involves someone kicking the top off of a plastic bottle. The slow-motion videos show the cap neatly spinning off. Of course, everyone from dogs to celebs have tried their hand (er, foot?) at the challenge. But ballerinas have taken it to the next level. As far as we can tell, Cuban dancer Marlen Fuerte Castro was the first to add a ballet spin: fouetté turns.

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