#TBT: Marcia Haydée and Richard Cragun in Romeo and Juliet (1973)

May 13, 2020

Marcia Haydée and Richard Cragun, one of ballet’s storied partnerships, danced together from the mid-1960s through the early ’90s as leading dancers of Stuttgart Ballet. Their repertory included dozens of ballets, most famously John Cranko’s The Taming of the Shrew, Onegin, and, of course, Romeo and Juliet. In this 1973 clip of that ballet’s Act III bedroom pas de deux, the characters are torn between love and fear, and Haydée and Cragun portray the starcrossed couple with striking humanity and emotion.

A master of pas de deux choreography, Cranko has the dancers use their whole bodies while partnering. Haydée clings to Cragun’s neck and drapes herself over his shoulders, their physical reliance foreshadowing their shared fate. At 3:45, Cragun catches Haydée as she dives into a near split, and at 4:35 Cragun holds Haydée in his arms as she blossoms from a tight crouch into a soaring arabesque. With intuitive connectedness and complete trust in one another, they rise to the physical and emotional demands of this infamous scene.

Beyond their decades of dancing together, the pair continued to have an important impact on the ballet world. Haydée led Stuttgart Ballet as artistic director until 1995 and today directs Chile’s Ballet de Santiago, while Cragun taught and staged ballets in Brazil until his passing in 2012. The two also remained lifelong friends. Happy #ThrowbackThursday!