Among the set, costuming and score of a ballet, movement becomes the most powerful form of expression—especially in romantic-era story ballets, which entertain and convey a plot without words. Thus, the most underrated skill of a professional dancer becomes crucial: miming. The subtlest gesture can convey heartbreak, joy and even the desires and frustrations of certain characters.
This clip from Act I of Coppèlia features former Royal Ballet principal Leanne Benjamin as Swanilda. In this scene, she must introduce both the nuances of her character and the ballet's budding conflict. Despite the challenge of this responsibility, Benjamin blends the two skills into one. Her miming does not distract from the movement, and her dancing does not smother Swanilda’s message. Benjamin can be lighthearted to the point of cheesy—but who cares? That’s who Swanhilda is in the world of Coppèlia. Try to not smile during this clip of Benjamin’s performance—Happy #ThrowbackThursday!