What It's Really Like to Dance Odette/Odile

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

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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