When it comes to gender roles, Le Corsaire is anything but modern. The female characters are passed from pasha to pirate and back again, and they do little else than dance for the men—whether those men are good or evil, lover or foe. (With the ballet's excessively convoluted plot, it's often hard to tell). In “Jardin Animée," the second scene of Act III, Medora, Gulnare and the other enslaved women dance charmingly in the pasha's dream—all smiles, flowers and cotton candy colors. Former American Ballet Theatre principal Paloma Herrera performs Gulnare's variation in this clip from ABT's 1999 PBS special, and her usual power and precision shine through. Just look at her dynamic, buoyant tombés into quick, trilling bourrées; her darting feet in simple jetés and the control she maintains during the ending's dizzying turns. I find myself rewinding every few seconds, just to watch each step's exacting execution.


In the PBS special, ABT artistic director Kevin McKenzie jokingly admits to the ballet's slightly absurd plot, its “politically incorrect attitudes" and its “over the top performance values." However, he says, “with its variety of roles, [Le Corsaire] offered incredible opportunities for virtuoso dancing," which Herrera and other ABT stars have in abundance. In the ballet's story, true love prevails, but it's the truly spectacular dancing (which we're sure to see at ABT this spring) that earns standing ovations. Happy #ThrowbackThursday!

Ballet Stars

English National Ballet star Alina Cojocaru was still a Royal Ballet principal in 2006 when she guest-starred in the Mariinsky Ballet's production of The Sleeping Beauty. And as this clip of her Aurora proves, she is indeed a vision in Act II's dream scene. Dancing alongside Andrian Fadeyev and Daria Pavlenko as Prince Désiré and the Lilac Fairy, the Romanian ballerina has an air of otherworldly majesty.

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Ballet Stars

A little over a month ago Roberto Bolle gave his final bow with American Ballet Theatre, though thankfully he's not saying goodbye to ballet altogether. After 10 years dancing as a principal with ABT while guesting around the world and at his home company La Scala Ballet, he's now planning to focus on his own galas and projects in Italy. A frequent face in those galas is Polina Semionova, a principal guest with Staatsballett Berlin (and also a former principal with ABT). Semionova and Bolle have danced together for years, and while Bolle is renown for his partnerships with many ballerinas, the two make an exceptionally elegant duo. Here they dance Vladimir Burmeister's Black Swan Pas de Deux at the 2007 Tchaikovsky Gala in Milan.

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Viral Videos
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Oh, internet challenges...We don't know who starts them or where they come from, but we definitely love it when dancers get involved.

The past few weeks have seen the rise of the #bottlecapchallenge, which involves someone kicking the top off of a plastic bottle. The slow-motion videos show the cap neatly spinning off. Of course, everyone from dogs to celebs have tried their hand (er, foot?) at the challenge. But ballerinas have taken it to the next level. As far as we can tell, Cuban dancer Marlen Fuerte Castro was the first to add a ballet spin: fouetté turns.

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