Swan Lake's Black Swan pas de deux has long been an opportunity for dancers to display their virtuosity and test the limits of technique. But in this week's #TBT, daredevil Cuban dancers Lorna Feijóo and José Manuel Carreño bring the duet to a new level. In this clip of the variations and coda performed at the Festival de Ballet de la Habana in 2000, both the dancers and the audience get swept up in the excitement.


Carreño, a former principal with English National Ballet, The Royal Ballet, and American Ballet Theatre, portrays Siegfried as a passionate prince. In his variation, he jumps with glorious hang-time and suspends the ending of every pirouette. Feijóo, who was at the time a prima ballerina with the Ballet Nacional de Cuba and went on to dance as a principal with Boston Ballet, conveys Odile's intensity through her eyes' sharp focus and precise, sustained positions. In the coda, she adds double pirouettes to the infamous 32 fouettés with one arm above her head like a wing, then makes way for Carreño with proud, steely walks. At 5:11 the pair begins an encore—which includes Feijóo hopping backward on pointe in arabesque (finishing in penché, no less)—and the crowd really goes wild. Although the couple struggles with the final fish dive, the audience doesn't mind; Feijóo and Carreño's thrilling risk-taking is more gratifying than perfection, as evidenced by the near full minute of applause after the coda. The fans' contagious energy amp up the drama in the final scene, making Siegfried's bold and tragic declaration of love to Odile all the more heart-wrenching. Happy #TBT!

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Viral Videos
Still via YouTube

American Ballet Theatre principal James Whiteside is known for more than just his uber-charismatic presence on the ballet stage; He doubles as both the drag queen Ühu Betch and the pop star JbDubs. Whiteside's newest musical release, titled WTF, came out last week, and is for sure his most ballet-filled song to date. Both the lyrics and the choreography are jam-packed with bunhead references, from the Rose Adagio to Haglund's Heel to a framed portrait of George Balanchine. Not to mention the fact that he and his four backup dancers (Matthew Poppe, Douane Gosa, Maxfield Haynes and Gianni Goffredo) absolutely kill it in pointe shoes.

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Viral Videos
Still Courtesy Design Army

Hong Kong Ballet is celebrating its 40th anniversary in style. Today, the company released the new phase of its yearlong ad campaign, which includes the below film, a Wes Anderson-esque romp through the city fusing ballet with pop culture, filled with ferry boats, pom pom-wielding grannies and dim sum served in hot pink containers.

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Ballet Stars
Valery Panov and Natalia Makarova in The Sleeping Beauty, via YouTube.

The Soviet Union redefined standards in classical ballet in the 1960s, producing opulent story ballets and dancers with refined, yet daring technique. Dancers like Natalia Makarova and Valery Panov, who were among the leading performers with the Kirov Ballet (now the Mariinsky) at that time, were at the pinnacle of the art form. In this 1964 film of the Kirov's The Sleeping Beauty, Makarova and Panov dance together as Princess Florine and the Bluebird. Despite the nostalgic trappings of the soundstage dance film, their strength and intention in this pas de deux make for a timeless performance.

Natalia Makarova as Princess Florine and Valery Panov as the Bluebird ('Sleeping Beauty' 1964) www.youtube.com

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Amitava Sarkar, Courtesy Houston Ballet

Like so many little girls, I grew up watching the "four little swans" dance. It always pops up on your YouTube feed if you're a dancer, so I saw lots of different versions. I figured I fit the type—I'm short and like to do petit allégro—so to do it was definitely on my wish list as a professional.

Because everyone's coordination is different, I knew getting four girls to dance in such perfect unison would take a lot of rehearsal. Our ballet mistress, Louise Lester, had us practice the dance in chunks: First we'd walk through each section to synchronize our head movements and get our timing perfect, and then we'd run each part multiple times for stamina. We'd have hour-long rehearsals for a one-minute dance!

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