Ballet Highlights of the Sochi Opening Ceremony

We have to hand it to the Russians. Olympic opening ceremonies are always brilliant spectacles, but rarely do they involve appearances by world-class ballet dancers.

Last Friday night, the Sochi opening ceremony offered a smorgasbord of rich, theatrical images, many of them created by Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark choreographer Daniel Ezralow. But the highlights for us bunheads were appearances by Russian ballet sensations Svetlana Zakharova, Ivan Vasiliev and Diana Vishneva.

Zakharova and Vasiliev showed us the more traditional side of ballet in a recreation of a ballroom scene from Tolstoy's War and Peace. (Vasiliev's ever-insane jumps drew big cheers from the crowd.) Vishneva went in another direction: Her pointe-shoe-less segment appeared to be inspired by F.L.O.W., the work Momix's Moses Pendleton choreographed for her "Beauty in Motion" program a few years ago. The original solo featured Vishneva twirling while wearing a cape of shimmering strands of beads. The opening ceremonies adaptation included a whole flock of dancers outfitted in these capes—Vishneva in the lead, of course—as music from Swan Lake played. While the effect wasn't exactly swan-like, it was totally mesmerizing.

Miss the broadcast, or just want to relive the magic? Click here for photos from the ceremony.