Natalia Makarova's version of Swan Lake, staged in the 1980s for London Festival Ballet (now the English National Ballet), incorporates a pas de quatre choreographed by Sir Fredrick Ashton into the ballet's opening act. Leanne Benjamin, then just 24 and a principal with the company, dances among the couples in this clip from a 1988 film of the ballet. The burgeoning ballerina shines in her minute-long solo, tackling intricate footwork with intelligence and spirit that foreshadow her formidable, two-decade career as a principal of The Royal Ballet.


Young Leanne Benjamin (1988) www.youtube.com

Throughout the pointework-heavy variation, Benjamin's movement is crisp, dynamic and articulate. She travels with stunning power without coming down from her toes, and she adds playful nuances throughout the solo with her expressive port de bras and keen musicality. Glorying in all the technical details, Benjamin makes a lasting impression in this short, but thrilling solo. Happy #ThrowbackThursday!

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