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Abundance of elegance

Weightless, precise, Austrian. Ballet dancers at the Vienna State Ballet – and Silhouette eyewear. Time to invite the two to dance together and talk about the impressive path of lightness.

Immediately beforehand they are discussing the details: how he will extend his left arm upwards, how she will embrace his neck, and how they will both look into one another’s eyes. Then the ballerina will leap into her partner’s right arm, and he will raise her aloft. There is a moment of weightlessness when her purple dress waves in all directions. Meanwhile, her Silhouette eyewear remains perfectly in place on her face. This is a vision of lightness and precision. It is also the result of much hard work. The ballet dancers make their moves look easy because they have practiced long and hard; similarly there have been many steps on the road to achieving the lightness of Silhouette eyewear. Dancers at the Vienna State Opera like Alice Firenze (32) and Davide Dato (27) have been conditioning their bodies virtually every day since the age of ten to enable them to appear elegant and graceful at moments of extreme physical exertion. They manage this by following a ritual. Every day starts on the bar to awaken the arms and legs “and bring the body into balance”, explains Irina Tsymbal (39), a principal solo dancer. After that they head into the center of the studio to perform a string of combinations of rapid jumps and rotations. Their routines include the “Changement de pieds”, in which the feet change positions during the jump, or the “Grand Jeté” (a leap whose literal translation is ‘big throw’). How many repetitions are required to achieve perfect lightness? “There is no such thing as perfection”, says 53-year-old Jean Christophe Lesage, who has been the rehearsal and training director at the Vienna State Opera since 2007.

“One’s performance as a dancer is dependent on music, lighting, costumes – there are so many things to take into account.” And when does a dance come close to perfection? “When feeling comes into the dance as well as technique.” When the dancers move beyond the athletic aspects and start expressing the artistic element. When “they are telling a story that the audience understands”, that is when the lightness develops. How about the “Pas de deux” (duet)? Here the proportions need to be right. “If the female dancer is of a similar height to her male partner, then it will be more difficult to create the lightness”, explains Lesage. Lifts and spins become a challenging essential for appearing weightless. For Romeo and Juliet the principal dancers must also “have a good relationship with one another. Davide and I are honest with one another, and open to mutual criticism”, says Alice Firenze about Davide Dato, her partner for the “pas de deux”. The Viennese public will soon be able to perceive this lightness in performances including Le Corsaire, The Nutcracker, and Swan Lake. “In Swan Lake the ballerina has to embody a swan. This is hard work because the arms have to appear to be soft”, explains Lesage. “There will be lifts”, he announces, “where you will be thinking: aha, that looks pretty easy.”

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