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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Yos Clark, of Africa's Ivory Coast. Courtesy Ballet Rising.

From his home in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, an eight-year-old boy named Yos Clark discovered ballet from the film Un, Dos, Tres, and began teaching himself to dance through videos. A teacher in France saw photos of Yos dancing online, and taught him over Skype because the studio in Abidjan was too long of a commute for him to train there on a regular basis. Apparently, the lessons paid off; last year, Yos received a scholarship to continue his training in Warrington, England.

Dancers like Clark are what propel former Dutch National Ballet principal Casey Herd recently; since leaving the company three years ago, Herd has become determined to shed light on the lesser-known stories of dancers making it around the world. Now, he and his friend and colleague Chris Weisler are creating a documentary project called Ballet Rising. Together they have been transversing the globe, searching for people embracing ballet. (Since the series is still in development, a premiere date is TBA.) Between stops, Pointe touched base with Herd over the phone to learn about the project, where his travels have taken him so far, and what his hopes are for the future of global ballet.

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If you're making your weekend plans, you may want to clear your calendar for Sunday and check your local movie listings. On May 19, Fathom Events, in partnership with Pathé Live and By Experience, is broadcasting the Bolshoi Ballet's performance of Carmen Suite and Petrushka throughout cinemas nationwide. The program will be captured live the same day from Moscow, and feature some of the Bolshoi's biggest stars.

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