#TBT: Valentina Kozlova and Patrick Bissell in “Don Quixote” (1982)

July 15, 2021

Soviet-born ballerina Valentina Kozlova and the late Patrick Bissell, a principal with American Ballet Theatre, were both tall, glamorous and formidably strong dancers. Kozlova was known for her elastic extensions, yet she could also turn like a top. Bissell was admired for his powerful dancing and partnering prowess. In this 1982 clip, the two make a showstopping pair as Kitri and Basilio in the Grand Pas de Deux from Don Quixote.

Right away, Bissell demonstrates his partnering strength, lifting Kozlova in suspended pas de chats and split extensions over his head. Kozlova at this time was guesting around the world, after having defected to the U.S. in 1979. She articulates each movement with care and control, showing off the beauty of her long, hyperextended limbs. Her pirouettes are also smooth and luxurious: at 2:15, Bissell supports her in a spiral of pirouettes en dedans that land in a low dip, and in her pirouettes à la seconde she stays precisely on her leg, folding into multiples pirouettes. 

Throughout his variation, Bissell demonstrates his own stunning control, with precise turns that don’t move an inch from where he takes off. Kozlova is sweet and sassy in her variation. She extends through the tips of her toes to create staccato accents in her footwork and boldly adds triple pirouettes in the final diagonal. In the coda, she sprinkles her fouettés with doubles, and Bissell caps off his performance with consecutive double à la seconde turns. Throughout, their dancing couples exuberance with regal elegance, making the duet endlessly luxurious. Happy #ThrowbackThursday!