Almost every professional dancer has paid her dues in the corps de ballet. It can be the most rigorous years of a dancer’s life, requiring strength and endurance to function as the backbone of the company. In this video of American Ballet Theatre’s Giselle, we experience one of the most difficult moments in a corps dancer’s repertoire. The cast sets the scene for Act II, clouding the stage with ominous white tutus and broken hearts. Each soloist’s variation takes on the bright music with a melancholy mood—finally building to the iconic chugs across the stage in a “wili’s arabesque.” Beginning at 6:05, each dancer executes a simple choreographic sequence of hops, but the corps’ collective power causes the audience to applaud at each pass.
We see Natalia Makarova dance Giselle in the last few minutes. It seems as though the tension built from the corps’ strict uniformity has exploded out of Natalia’s first arabesques en tournant. Clips such as this help us understand why we continue to watch, dance and grieve for Giselle and the wilis. These dancers have set an example for all who hope to perform this ballet. Happy #ThrowbackThursday!