Susan Jaffe was barely 19 years old when she leapt into the spotlight at American Ballet Theatre. 1982—the year that her Swan Lake debut had critics raving—also revealed her contemporary chops in works like Lynn Taylor-Corbett's Great Galloping Gottschalk. In this clip from a 1985 recording, Jaffe dances a pas de deux from the piece with Robert La Fosse, who had a successful career as a principal dancer at both ABT and New York City Ballet.
Jaffe and La Fosse, now both teachers (Dean of Dance at University North Carolina School of the Arts and Barnard Dance Department lecturer, respectively), were two of the homegrown stars that Mikhail Baryshnikov sought to nurture as director of ABT. Great Galloping Gottschalk is danced entirely to the music of 19th century New Orleans-born composer Louis Moreau Gottschalk. The name of this pas, “The Dying Poet," belies its carefree spirit. Jaffe and La Fosse bound gaily through Taylor-Corbett's constantly moving choreography. In one playful moment of many, Jaffe stands behind La Fosse and, with a wave of her hand, manipulates him into a backwards somersault and a (beautifully!) sustained arabesque. Simple pearl-blue costumes and Gottschalk's twinkling score complete the light-hearted feeling of the pas, which ends with La Fosse carrying Jaffe offstage in a twirling lift, like a windmill in a spring breeze. Happy #ThrowbackThursday!