The Diana and Actaeon pas de deux, from the ballet La Esmeralda, is a bravura tableaux ideal for festivals and galas. In this clip, we see Viengsay Valdés and her frequent partner Romel Frometa perform the piece at Japan's 2006 World Ballet Festival. Valdés, Ballet Nacional de Cuba's prima ballerina and now the company's deputy artistic director, epitomizes the fierce, independent goddess Diana with radiant confidence. Together with Frometa, a current dancer at BalletMet, the two elevate the pas deux to new levels with balletic fireworks that demonstrate their immense strength and trust in one another.
In the pas, Diana's initial hesitance to accept Actaeon's affections is highlighted by moments where the ballerina supports herself rather than relying on her partner—perfect opportunities to highlight Valdés's stunning balances. The Cuban ballerina's luxurious descent from a several-seconds-long sustained arabesque at 3:16 is particularly awe-inspiring. For both Valdés and Frometa, the softer side of their technique shows through in articulated steps, lilting hops and sweeping port de bras. In both his variation and the coda, Frometa explodes in impassioned jetés, stag leaps and barrel turns. Valdés's power, on the other hand, is more contained, burning just beneath the surface of her playful swagger, and ultimately revealed in a sequence of unwavering fouetté turns. With her grace and vigor, we can't wait to see what's to come for Valdés as she moves into the next phase of her career! Happy #ThrowbackThursday!