Last week American Ballet
Theatre principal Gillian Murphy danced the iconic dual role of Odette/Odile as part of the company's spring season. In preparation for the performance she posted an adorable photo from her childhood on Instagram of her posing in costume as the Black Swan. Murphy also admits that as a young dancer she was determined to master the 32 fouettés, which Odile performs at the climax of the Black Swan pas de deux. Her performance in this clip from a 2005 performance, alongside former ABT principal Angel Corella as Siegfried, makes it obvious as to why this childhood dream role is now one of her signatures.
When the dancers enter at 1:00, Murphy already has a fierceness about her that makes it hard to believe she's the same soft-spoken ballerina in the video's opening interview. Corella's Siegfried is completely beguiled by the temptress. Murphy approaches the choreography with fearless physicality, plunging into penchés and hitting each arabesque with staccato precision. Her flexible arms trail behind her like wings. Corella is exuberant in his variation, while Murphy is devilishly cool. Both these turning whizzes seem to conjure their momentum from within themselves. In the coda, which begins at 10:15, the couple increases their intensity; Corella leaps higher than ball guests' heads and Murphy adds thrilling, incredibly musical triples to her fouettés.In 2017 Murphy told Pointe that while the "technical elements of Odile" feel natural to her, the manipulative character is, of course, nothing like her real personality. To portray Odile she abandons herself and let's the character take on a life of her own through Tchaikovsky's music. Happy #ThrowbackThursday!