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#TBT: Ghislaine Thesmar in "The Dying Swan"

“With an inner voice the river ran,

Adown it floated a dying swan…"

-From The Dying Swan (1830) by Lord Alfred Tennyson


Lord Alfred Tennyson's poem The Dying Swan, along with a lifelong fascination with swans, inspired ballet legend Anna Pavlova to request a solo from choreographer Michel Fokine in 1905 (some sources say 1907). He chose Camille Saint-Saëns' nostalgically romantic composition for cello and piano “Le Cygne," and The Dying Swan was born. Like a poem, the iconic role is open to many interpretations. In this clip, Ghislaine Thesmar—a Paris Opéra Ballet étoile in the 70s—calls to mind Tennyson's words. Arms undulating like graceful wings, she elegantly dips her torso atop a fluid, unbroken current of bourrées. Her eventual submission to gravity and death is so gentle that, were she really floating down the river Tennyson envisioned, she would do so without so much as a splash.

Thesmar's contributions to the art form go beyond her renowned performing career. She and her husband, French choreographer Pierre Lacotte, became the first directors of Les Ballets de Monte Carlo in 1985, and Rudolf Nureyev later invited her to train a new generation of stars at the POB School. Happy #TBT!

Fun fact: Anna Pavlova kept swans as pets; her favorite's name was Jack.

Ballet Stars
Karolina Kuras, Courtesy NBoC

It's hard to imagine the National Ballet of Canada without ballerina Greta Hodgkinson. Yet this week NBoC announced that the longtime company star will take her final bow in March, as Marguerite in Sir Frederick Ashton's Marguerite and Armand.

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Sponsored by BLOCH
Courtesy BLOCH

Today's ballet dancer needs a lot from a pointe shoe. "What I did 20 years ago is not what these dancers are doing now," says New York City Ballet shoe manager Linnette Roe. "They are expected to go harder, longer days. They are expected to go from sneakers, to pointe shoes, to character shoes, to barefoot and back to pointe shoes all in a day."

The team at BLOCH developed their line of Stretch Pointe shoes to address dancer's most common complaints about the fit and performance of their pointe shoes. "It's a scientific take on the pointe shoe," says Roe. Dancers are taking notice and Stretch Pointe shoes are now worn by stars like American Ballet Theatre principal Isabella Boylston, who stars in BLOCH's latest campaign for the shoes.

We dug into the details of Stretch Pointe's most game-changing features:

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News
Alice Pennefather, Courtesy ROH

You ever just wish that Kenneth MacMillan's iconic production of Romeo and Juliet could have a beautiful love child with the 1968 film starring Olivia Hussey? (No, not Baz Luhrmann's version. We are purists here.)

Wish granted: Today, the trailer for a new film called Romeo and Juliet: Beyond Words was released, featuring MacMillan's choreography and with what looks like all the cinematic glamour we could ever dream of:

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Viral Videos

What do Diana Vishneva, Olga Smirnova, Kristina Shapran and Maria Khoreva all have in common? These women, among the most impressive talents to graduate from the Vaganova Ballet Academy in recent years, all studied under legendary professor Lyudmila Kovaleva. Kovaleva, a former dancer with the Kirov Ballet (now the Mariinsky), is beloved by her students and admired throughout the ballet world for her ability to pull individuality and artistry out of the dancers she trains. Like any great teacher, Kovaleva is remarkably generous with her wealth of knowledge; it seems perfect, then, that she appears as the Fairy of Generosity in this clip from a 1964 film of the Kirov's The Sleeping Beauty.

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