French ballerina Zizi Jeanmaire first gained fame when she premiered the titular title role in Roland Petit's Carmen in 1949, opposite Petit as Carmen's lover Don José. With her famously cropped hair (and cropped tutu!), Jeanmaire's performance as the seductive gypsy took the world by storm, catapulting her and Petit's careers.


The couple, who married in 1954, were partners in life as well as onstage. They spent several years working in Hollywood, and later reprised their roles in Carmen for a version of the ballet in the 1961 French film Black Tights. This clip of Carmen's variation immortalizes Jeanmaire's sexy sophistication and brilliant commitment to a role.

Emerging from a back corner of the bar in the tavern scene, Jeanmaire toys with her fan as a tantalizing rhythm begins to build. The turned-in-and-out swivels and precise footwork in Petit's Latin-infused ballet vocabulary accentuate her long legs. Jeanmaire is equally astonishing with each coy profile and shoulder shrug as she is in the variation's finale of rousing fouettés. A duo ahead of their time, Petit's choreography and Jeanmaire's performance are still every bit as iconic as they were in the '60s! Happy #ThrowbackThursday!

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What do Diana Vishneva, Olga Smirnova, Kristina Shapran and Maria Khoreva all have in common? These women, among the most impressive talents to graduate from the Vaganova Ballet Academy in recent years, all studied under legendary professor Lyudmila Kovaleva. Kovaleva, a former dancer with the Kirov Ballet (now the Mariinsky), is beloved by her students and admired throughout the ballet world for her ability to pull individuality and artistry out of the dancers she trains. Like any great teacher, Kovaleva is remarkably generous with her wealth of knowledge; it seems perfect, then, that she appears as the Fairy of Generosity in this clip from a 1964 film of the Kirov's The Sleeping Beauty.

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Master pointe shoe fitter Josephine Lee of the California-based ThePointeShop chats with Ballet West soloist Chelsea Keefer to hear about how she prepares her pointe shoes. Keefer offers lots of darning tips, and shares all of the unusual ways that she uses rosin.

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At this point, you'd think we'd all be used to the level of technical absurdity Daniil Simkin achieves when he's playing around in the studio. But then he did this:

...and now we're low-key appalled in the absolute best way.

After we picked our jaws up from the floor, we were inspired to dig up clips of some of our other favorite dancers turning like it's no big deal. Here are just a few standouts.

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