#TBT: Lupe Serrano and Jacques d’Amboise in the Black Swan Pas de Deux

July 10, 2014

In 1960, “The Bell Telephone Hour” featured Lupe Serrano and Jacques d’Amboise—then star principals with American Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet, respectively—dancing the famous Black Swan pas de deux. It 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. 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 their beautifully buoyant jumps and turns to promenades and, of course, Serrano’s rock-solid fouettés. These moments show how ballet’s fundamentals 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!