#TBT: Zenaida Yanowsky's Black Swan Pas de Deux (2002)

June 14, 2017

Updated 11/16/23.

In 2017, The Royal Ballet’s Zenaida Yanowsky took her final bow at Covent Garden—a stage she called home for 23 years. Beloved by Britain’s loyal ballet fans, she captivated audiences throughout her 16 years as a principal dancer. At 5′ 9″ Yanowsky is regal and striking, breaking the mold of the more traditional, diminutive English ballerina.

One of Yanowsky’s signature roles with The Royal was Odette/Odile in Swan Lake. She even had the honor of performing the Black Swan pas de deux in the Buckingham Palace ballroom, as part of Queen Elizabeth’s Golden Jubilee in 2002. In this video, the performance begins at 0:50 after a short commentary and is accompanied by a live orchestra. Alongside a fresh-faced Roberto Bolle, Yanowsky’s dancing is crisp and precise, yet light and airy. Her effortless port de bras and quick focus make her intensely birdlike. At 7:48, during Odile’s variation, her renversés à la seconde seem to soar on endlessly. We’re so glad we can keep watching this breathtaking ballerina’s performances on video, even though she has retired from the Covent Garden stage. Happy #ThrowbackThursday!