For many a bunhead, "The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" is not just a holiday tradition, but a rite of passage. The variation, with its tinkling celesta, bourrées and petit battus, is one that all ballet dancers are familiar with, and getting the opportunity to perform it often represents moving into new realms in your training or career. Such was the case for Soviet ballerina Ekaterina Maximova. In this 1957 clip, the 18-year-old aspirant performed the Sugar Plum variation at a ballet competition, where she represented the Bolshoi Ballet Academy.
Adorned in taffeta and a shimmering bodice, Maximova is as effervescent as any ruler of a candy kingdom could hope to be. Her light footwork sparkles, while her upper body is lush and expressive. Even when the camera cuts off her lower body at 1:15, her charming épaulement captivates on its own. And she never misses an accent, despite the brisk tempo. The year after this competition, Maximova joined the Bolshoi, quickly becoming one of the company's leading performers and a darling of the ballet world. Happy #ThrowbackThursday!