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!
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I have very tapered Morton's toes (longer second toes). My big toe joints are about a half centimeter shorter than my second and third toe joints, so I have a terrible time finding stability on demi-pointe. My weight lands on that second toe joint, which is pretty narrow and uncomfortable under that pressure. How can I find a more stable relevé? —Larissa

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From left: Sarah Lapointe, Derek Dunn and Jeanette Kakareka. Courtesy The Rock School

For more than five decades, The Rock School for Dance Education has been launching young dancers into professional ballet careers around the globe. Boasting distinguished alumni such as Beckanne Sisk, Michaela DePrince and Taylor Stanley, the Philadelphia-based institution has garnered a well-deserved reputation for pairing rigorous training with a tight-knit, welcoming community. Their summer intensives are no different, with a wealth of prestigious faculty members, many of whom are Rock School alums currently dancing at companies around the world.

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The National Ballet of Canada's Harrison James and Emma Hawes in Orpheus Alive. Karolina Kuras, Courtesy NBoC.

Wonder what's going on in ballet this week? We've rounded up some highlights.

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Ballet dancers today are asked to do more with their bodies than ever before. The physical demands of a ballet career can take an immense toll on a dancer's joints and muscles—subjecting them to pain, inflammation and an increased risk of injury. Considering all that is required of today's dancers, having a top-notch recovery regime is paramount.

Enter Apolla Performance Wear, which is meeting ballet's physical demands with a line of compression footwear that is speeding up the recovery process for professional dancers by reducing inflammation and stabilizing the joints.

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