Ballet Stars

#TBT: Marie-Agnès Gillot in “The Sleeping Beauty” (1999)

Maire-Agnès Gillot in The Sleeping Beauty, via YouTube.

Fairies crop up everywhere in classical ballet, from sylphs to dryads to, of course, the ranks of fairies who attend Aurora's christening in The Sleeping Beauty. These delicate and mystical creatures stretch the reaches of ballet technique, forcing dancers to embody an otherworldly ideal. In this 1999 clip from the Paris Opéra Ballet's The Sleeping Beauty, former étoile Marie-Agnès Gillot dances the luxurious Lilac Fairy variation. With her refined, gentle power, Gillot truly finds the sublime in her interpretation of this magical character.


Gillot's first step, a grand rond de jambe that floats slowly into failli, establishes the rich, seamless quality that carries her through the variation. In arabesque, her legs extend at a perfect right angle as she pauses for a deliberate breath. She rides the music's sweeping rhythm, her long limbs undulating through the space. With complete commitment to the steps, Gillot makes a transformation, suspending our reality for a moment and convincing us that fairies could, indeed, be among us. Happy #ThrowbackThursday!

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