When Jules Perrot's Pas de Quatre premiered in London in 1845, it was an unprecedented event in the ballet world. Created for four of the greatest ballerinas of the day—Marie Taglioni, Carlotta Grisi, Lucile Grahn and Fanny Cerrito—the ballet was essentially the original "international gala of the stars."
Nearly 150 years later, in a gala starring Georgian ballerina Nina Ananiashvili in 1993, Ananiashvili, Darci Kistler, Rose Gad and Tatiana Terekhova (principals at the Bolshoi Ballet, New York City Ballet, Royal Danish Ballet, and Mariinsky Ballet, respectively) came together, much in the spirit of the original cast, to perform Sir Anton Dolin's reconstructed version of Pas de Quatre. While the ballerinas all have different backgrounds, and each has her own unique style, they share the stage equally, not as a corps, but as four distinct soloists moving in harmony.
The opening section of the ballet is full of unexpected symmetries, such as the iconic first tableau; each ballerina has an individual movement, yet the picture onstage maintains balance. When the dancers finally do move in perfect unison near the end of the opening, taking small bourrées forward in a straight line as their arms and gaze rise, the effect is thrilling. Ananiashvili, Kistler, Gad and Terekhova convey the Romantic style with soft port de bras, demure reverences to one another, and wafting bourrées, but they do not let the piece become an old-fashioned novelty. They bring freshness and clarity to the ballet, making it more than a mere relic, but a living artifact of ballet history. Happy #ThrowbackThursday!