Misty Copeland and James Whiteside in Swan Lake (photo by Gene Schiavone)

What It's Really Like to Dance Odette/Odile

The dual part of Odette and Odile in Swan Lake is THE role, the one every trina dreams of from the moment she first dons a leotard. It's also insanely difficult to perform, challenging even the most elite ballerinas with its multifaceted demands.

So what's it actually like to dance Odette/Odile? A new short film from American Ballet Theatre goes behind the scenes with three Swan Queens—principals Misty Copeland and Isabella Boylston and soloist Devon Teuscher—to find out.


Each ballerina has a different perspective on the role. Teuscher just recently debuted as Odette/Odile; Boylston danced almost every other role in the ballet before getting to tackle the lead; Copeland is forging an important path as one of the world's only black Swan Queens. But all three agree on two things.

One: They can't believe they get to dance the part.

Two: It's terrifying.

Copeland, who was so anxious that she wore four different pairs of pointe shoes during her debut, sums it up best: "If I can get through that, having babies will be a piece of cake."

Want more behind-the-scenes realness? There's a second video in this ABT Swan Lake series, which looks at the ballet from the vantage point of the corps. And whoa: Those women, who routinely dance four different parts in one performance, work darn hard.

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