Ballet has come a long way since this performance aired in 1960. Part of a series called "The Bell Telephone Hour," this footage of Lupe Serrano and Jacques d'Amboise performing the famous Black Swan pas de deux was among the first televised programs in color. Viewing a performance like this within an hour-long variety show used to be a once-per-week treat. Since then, dance has become profoundly more accessible, expanding across the internet and social media.
Now, not only can we watch this video on YouTube (as many times as we want), but we can also see how these dancers in 1960 began to form today's ballet dancer. While technical standards have changed (d’Amboise's flat-footed pirouette probably wouldn’t last on today’s stages), the foundation has not. Watch how, as Serrano and d’Amboise work with one another during partnering sequences, the way they use their backs becomes central to their coordination and execution of steps—from jumps and turns to promenades. These moments show how “ballet basics” have lasted for centuries, allowing dancers to build upon them to push their physical limits. No matter the decade, a ballerina’s back will always be one of her greatest tools. Happy #ThrowbackThursday!