#TBT: Margot Fonteyn and Michael Somes in “The Nutcracker” (1958)

December 16, 2020

In need of extra Nutcracker cheer? Watching Dame Margot Fonteyn and Michael Somes, two former stars of The Royal Ballet, dance the ballet’s grand pas de deux is an instant fix. In this clip from a 1958 Nutcracker television broadcast, even black and white film can’t take away from their radiance.

The pas de deux’s tempo is bright and brisk, and the dancers layer on ample charm with smiling glances towards one another. Fonteyn’s tutu shimmers just so while she bourées. As the music builds to a crescendo, the pace quickens, with Somes turning Fonteyn in tight, brilliant pirouettes. Some of the choreography’s more old-fashioned conventions, like Fonteyn’s gentle, waving port de bras and the unusual lift where she floats atop Somes’ shoulders at 3:25, make the pas de deux a rarer, sweeter treat. Happy #ThrowbackThursday!