#TBT: Céline Gittens in Grand Pas Classique (2006)

June 10, 2020

Céline Gittens, a principal with Birmingham Royal Ballet, first landed her spot with the company after a sparkling performance of the Grand Pas Classique variation at the 2006 Prix de Lausanne. In this clip from the competition, Gittens’ bright energy and regal poise give her dancing polish and sophistication well beyond her 18 years. Her delicate fingers and supple footwork elongate her elegant lines, and she sails through the variation’s sustained turns and balances—and the epic diagonal of ballonnés—with a buoyant sense of lift.

Gittens, who began training with her mother in Trinidad before enrolling at the Goh Ballet Academy when the family moved to Canada, rose through the ranks at BRB and was named principal in 2016. She also made history in 2012 as the first Black ballerina to dance Odette/Odile in the UK. Gittens’ inspiring artistry, which we can see blossoming before our eyes in this performance of Grand Pas Classique, helps us envision a more equitable future for people of color in the ballet world—an imperative which the last two weeks have illuminated even further for our community.

For more footage of Gittens (and many others), look to MoB Ballet, an online resource that collects and amplifies the lives and works of Black ballet dancers. Happy #ThrowbackThursday!