The 12 Zodiac Signs As YAGP Variations

Ballet West principal Beckanne Sisk as Kitri (Luke Isley, courtesy Ballet West)

Guess who's baaaaack?! Your resident Dance Spirit astrologers! And on the eve of the Youth America Grand Prix awards ceremony, we thought it was the perfect time to pair each zodiac sign with a variation commonly seen during the competition. After many painstaking hours spent researching, consulting the stars, and staring wistfully into the sky, we compiled our data and present you with the definitive list of each star sign as a YAGP variation! As we said last time, don't @ us if you're not happy with your pairing—the stars don't lie, baby!


Aries: Kitri, Act I from Don Quixote

I have absolutely no doubt that Kitri's an Aries. The beloved heroine of Don Quixote is universally known to be fiery, fierce, and independent—and a quick Google search yields the exact same words to describe this first sign in the zodiac. With her fabulous red dress and fan, Kitri puts pretty much every Aries quality on full display in the wildly challenging Act I variation, from creativity, to independence, to ferocity. –OM

Taurus: Lise from La Fille Mal Gardée

As the resident DS Taurus, I'm convinced that Lise is a fellow Taurean. We're known for our loyalty and determination, two qualities Lise has in spades. She's determined to marry Colas, the love of her life, instead of the dumb-as-a-doorknob Alain, but also wants to honor the wishes of her mother. Throughout the ballet, we watch as Lise navigates many a life-altering decision, as she comes into her own (#SelfLove—very Taurean!), and finally, as she puts her foot down and marries Colas. Yeah, that's as Taurus a trajectory as they come. Not to mention, the variation itself is a total classic—it truly is the Taurus of variations, with its crisp musicality, romantic costume, and sweeping music. –OM

Gemini: Paquita Variations 1-5

Simply put, Geminis get a bad rap. They've got some qualities that can be spun negatively ("two-faced" immediately comes to mind). But at the end of the day, they're just misunderstood. A quick Google search clarifies that the "two-faced" trait Geminis actually possess is "duality," along with intelligence, ebullience, and adaptability—all of which dancers need when tackling one of Paquita's many variations. The ballet itself has a pretty wild plot that sounds like it was plucked from the brain of a Gemini. According to the Petipa Society:

Set in Spain during the occupation of Napoleon's army, Paquita tells the story of the young gypsy girl, Paquita, who is unaware that she is really of noble birth and was abducted by gypsies when she was an infant after the assassination of her parents. Paquita wins the love of the young French officer, Lucien d'Hervilly when she saves his life from the gypsy chief, Iñigo, who is hired by a Spanish governor to kill Lucien. Through a medallion that she has had all her life, Paquita finally discovers her true birth right and identity; she is in fact the cousin of Lucien and can marry him.

So, yeah, Paquita's clearly got a lot going on, and she needs those Gemini traits to carry her through. –OM

Cancer: Variation from The Talisman

The Talisman variation as fantastical and celestial as they come. The ballet centers on Niriti, the daughter of the Queen of the Heavens. After descending to earth with her guardian, Vayou the Wind God, Niriti faces a nearly impossible challenge: to resist the temptation of mortal love. (Girl, same.) I'm a Cancer rising, and this hits verrrrryyyyy close to home. At their cores, Cancers love to love. They could swim in feelings of nostalgia forever. They're bursting with sensitivity. So having to resist falling in love is literally the hardest thing a Cancer could do. But, against all odds, our girl Niriti's out here doing it in the Talisman variation. –OM

Leo: La Esmeralda

Leos are the natural leaders of the zodiac. They're as independent as they come, and march exclusively to the beat on their own drum—all of which sounds exactly like Esmeralda. She's in the middle of a super complicated romantic situation, having married a poet to save him from execution, while simultaneously falling in love with Captain Phoebus de Châteaupers, who happens to be engaged. It's all very intricate, which is exactly the type of situation Leos hate. Enter the variation, which requires the ballerina to flex every Leo trait in the book, allowing her to shine while showcasing her technique and presence. –OM

Virgo: Queen of the Dryads from Don Quixote

Calling all Virgos! Y'all are proud to be logical, practical, and above all grounded in the physical world. Which brings us to the challenging showpiece of this particular variation: Italian fouettés. We can't imagine a star sign better equipped to tackle these notoriously intimidating bad boys than perfectionist, hardworking Virgos. The fact that Virgos are well-known as an earth sign (fyi, the Queen of the Dryads is literally the ruler of her fellow tree spirits) certainly doesn't hurt. The methodical, committed Virgo nature also jives well with this solo's deliberate, steady music in waltz time. (That a sufficiently thorough justification to satisfy all the Virgos out there? No shade; we imagine Virgos are overrepresented in the ballerina ranks.) –HR

Libra: Variation from Grand Pas Classique

Did we hear somebody say "balance"? Libras are obviously obsessed with equilibrium, symmetry, harmony, and balance, and darn it if this variation doesn't plainly show whether or not a dancer has those qualities. As the zodiac's ultimate aesthetes, Libras highly value exquisite elegance and refined taste—which nicely sum up this variation's tricky balancing and turning sequences on one foot, which appear unassuming but leave the dancer with nowhere to hide lapses in strength or technique. Your average Libra is the Princess Charming of the zodiac, so it's also lucky that dancing this variation leaves plenty of chances to turn that megawatt smile on for the benefit of Libra's adoring audience. –HR

Scorpio: Variation from Harlequinade

Scorpios are all about the game of lying in wait and striking when it's least expected. Surprise, so's this variation. You think you've got some run-of-the-mill relevés going on when BOOM! All of a sudden, we go from multiple tightly-controlled pirouettes into a how-did-she-do-that suspended grand rond de jambe en l'air and chugs for days in arabesque on that same standing leg. Mad respect, Scorpios. Scorpio style also tends toward the capacity to beguile and seduce others—which, let's be honest, is super necessary to pull of the potentially cheesy flirtatious mime sequences that are baked into this variation. –HR

Sagittarius: Diana et Actéon

Y'all didn't seriously think the variation in which the ballerina LITERALLY holds a teeny archery bow the entire time would match up with any sign other than Sagittarius, now did ya? If you need more explanation, though, it's really quite simple: Daring plunges into arabesque penché en pointe? Sounds a lot like the Sagittarian love of adventure. Eating up stage space throughout the entire variation? A true Sag needs to be on the move, in every sense of the phrase. A confident, sassy stage presence that could verge on arrogance? Well, um, #NotAllSags. –HR

Capricorn: Giselle's Act 1 Variation

This variation shows the earthy peasant maiden before she goes through the heartbreaking pain of being deceived by Albrecht (aka the OG playa), so Giselle's earnest and mischievous qualities—both typical of Caps, FYI—are out in full force. But beyond her obvious youthful playfulness (also very Capricorn), Giselle is the poster child for inner strength. When Capricorns undergo intense hardship and struggle early in their lives, they emerge from that dark night of the soul with inner fortitude like WHOA. Ain't no struggle like dancing yourself to death over boy problems, only to forgive said idiot boy with unbelievable depths of emotional intelligence and optimism, amirite? –HR

Aquarius: Princess Florine from The Sleeping Beauty

Aquarius, the water-bearer, is often mistaken for a water sign—when in actuality it's the last air sign in the zodiac year. That totally reminds us of our friend Princess Florine, whose variation is regularly (and, technically, incorrectly) referred to as "Bluebird." ANYWHO, Florine's sustained balances, port de bras suggesting she's listening to faraway music, and hops en pointe allow Aquarian trinas to show off their free-spirited, stubborn streak. (Fun fact: In medical astrology, Aquarius is strongly associated with the ankles—key for pulling off this variation's many changes in direction while up on one pointe shoe!) –HR

Pisces: Third Shade from La Bayadère

Pisces is the last sign in the zodiac, so fishies are said to have absorbed everything their sibling signs experienced over the year—regrets, pain, joys, you get the idea. WHAT A COINCIDENCE, then, that our Third Shade is the last of the three demi-soloist variations in the second act of La Bayadère, and arguably the variation most full of pathos, depth, and *~feelings~* in general. Pisces are known for their access to the collective unconscious, their inherent bent towards the spiritual and mystical, and that all clocks with this Shade's ethereal movement quality. Plus, this variation's steps literally prevent the Shade from looking directly at the audience for more than a second at a time—Bye-sces! –HR

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