32 Fouettés, 32 Thoughts

Video by Ernesto Galan

Swan Lake is known for its soaring score, spellbinding story, captivating costumes, and one of the most famous moments in ballet—32 breathtaking fouettés.  

Lia Cirio and Yury Yanowsky

Photo credit: Rosalie O'Connor

Anaïs Chalendard

Photo credit: Rosalie O'Connor

Lia Cirio and Yury Yanowsky

Photo credit: Rosalie O'Connor

Anaïs Chalendard

Photo credit: Rosalie O'Connor

In the castle’s ballroom during Act III of Swan Lake, Odile, the dangerous daughter of sorcerer Von Rothbart, does an astounding 32 fouettés (meaning “whipped” in French), turning on one leg, while whipping the other leg. The movement mesmerizes Prince Siegfried and audiences alike.  

Italian ballerina Pierina Legnani first performed 32 consecutive fouettés in a performance of Cinderella in 1893. When she originated the role in Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov’s version of Swan Lake in 1895, Petipa added the 32 fouettés specifically for her—setting the standard for future ballerinas.  

Ever wonder what swirls through a dancer’s head during these fiendishly difficult, whiplash moments?   

Anaïs Chalendard and Paulo Arrais in Swan Lake

Anaïs Chalendard and Paulo Arrais

Photo credit: Rosalie O'Connor

  1. “One down, only 31 more to go…” –Abigail Merlis, Artist 
  2. “Stay over your supporting leg.” –Grace Mullins, BBII 
  3. “Plié. Spot. Stay Calm.” –Georgia Dalton, Artist 
  4. “Energy through the right foot, keep it pointed strong.” –Lauren Herfindahl, Second Soloist 
  5.  “Keep eyes up and focused.” –Kyleigh Sudlow, BBII 
  6. “Strong plié, strong relevé.” –Madysen Felber, Artist 
  7. “This is fun!” –Nikolia Mamalakis, BBII 
  8. “Woah, way too much force. Let me throw in a double.” –Louise Hautefeuille, Artist 
  9. “Plié. Plié. Plié.” –Kyleigh Sudlow, BBII 
  10. “Stay focused on your spot.” –Juliette Jones, BBII 
  11. “Siegfried, you cannot resist. You are under my spell.” –Viktorina Kapitonova as Odile, Principal Dancer 
  12. “KEEP GOING.” –Grace Mullins, BBII 
  13.  “What number am I on?” –Kyleigh Sudlow, BBII 
  14. “15, 16, 17...My left calf is cramping!” –Louise Hautefeuille, Artist 
  15. “Don’t stop!” –Juliette Jones, BBII 
  16. “Spot your head.” –Grace Mullins, BBII 
  17.  “I’m getting dizzy.” –Nikolia Mamalakis, BBII 
  18.  “Left shoulder, left arm, left elbow...spot, spot.” –Joy Womack, Artist 
  19. “Sharp spot and laser eyes.” – Lauren Herfindahl, Second Soloist 
  20. “Fall to my feet, Siegfried” –Viktorina Kapitonova as Odile, Principal Dancer 
  21. “Keep smiling, almost there.” –Louise Hautefeuille, Artist 
  22. “How am I going to finish nicely?” –Nikolia Mamalakis, BBII 
  23. “Sorry, not sorry, Siegfried. MWA HA HA.” –Viktorina Kapitonova as Odile, Principal Dancer 
  24. “Just keep spotting, just keep spotting.” –Madysen Felber, Artist 
  25. “Left arm. Heel down. Breathe and stay forward!” –Abigail Merlis, Artist 
  26. “Soft plié, no jumping into pointe.” –Lauren Herfindahl, Second Soloist 
  27. “Just keep calm.” –Madysen Felber, Artist 
  28. “There goes a hair pin...”  –Lauren Herfindahl, Second Soloist 
  29. “Oh hey, is that Brad Pitt in the third row?” –Lily Price, Artist 
  30. “Stay calm and steady.” –Nikolia Mamalakis, BBII 
  31.  “Finish strong.” –Juliette Jones, BBII 
  32. “Andddd 32! I did it! Only one more Act to go!” –Louise Hautefeuille, Artist 

The illusion we create is intended to deepen your understanding of reality.

Mikko Nissinen, Artistic Director
Donate