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!