#TBT: Gelsey Kirkland and Mikhail Baryshnikov in "Coppélia" (1976)

September 23, 2020

Gelsey Kirkland and Mikhail Baryshnikov share the unique experience of having danced at both American Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet during their careers. The two overlapped at ABT in the mid-’70s, where they developed one of the best-known partnerships in ballet. They were both celebrated for their dynamism onstage; however, in this 1976 clip of the pas de deux from Coppélia, Kirkland and Baryshnikov prove they are also masters of control.

The pair dance with a restrained elegance in the adagio; Baryshnikov’s pirouettes gently land in tendu derrière, and Kirkland graciously unfurls her limbs with each step. In every balance, she calmly adjusts her placement to find her center without rolling off pointe. In their variations, their vivacious personalities begin to shine through, though their technique remains pristine. The debonair Baryshnikov bounds from wing to wing, while Kirkland adds coquettish flair to the staccato steps. In the coda, they revel in their precision as they breeze through each bravura pirouette and manège. Happy #ThrowbackThursday!