When this La Bayadère clip was filmed in 2008, Natalia Osipova was two years away from breaking into the Bolshoi Ballet's highest rank. Though she doesn't play the tragic heroine in this performance, it's actually a treat to watch Osipova in a purely technical soloist role. Despite the ethereal-sounding name, the second Shade variation is no delicate, airy solo. Osipova devours space, both horizontally and vertically with her famously explosive jump. But she doesn't sacrifice details for airtime. The controlled stationary steps, like those perfectly crossed relevé attitudes, are all the more impressive for having followed such a leg-tiring sequence (well, for any other human).
Osipova won the prestigious Benois de la Danse award for Best Female Dancer that same year. She joined The Royal Ballet as a principal in 2013, where she recently created the role of Amélie Gautreau in Christopher Wheeldon's Strapless. Happy #ThrowbackThursday!