We've previously collected together lists of animals that appear repeatedly in our ballets, including horses and mice. However none so far have enjoyed such iconic choreography as our current subject: birds! Here are just five of our feathered favourites, each with an accompanying video clip:
1. The flock from Beauty and the Beast
While the Beast's castle is a dark and intimidating place, the journey that Belle takes to reach it is unexpectedly beautiful. Having swept into her father's house to form a fish-netted chorus line, a Raven and a flock of unidentified black birds sweep her up and carry her gently aloft above the clouds.
2. The bluebirds from The Sleeping Beauty
The finale of The Sleeping Beauty sees the wedding of our heroine and her prince. Attending the party are a host of fairytale characters from other stories, who each perform short dances to entertain the happy couple. Among the pieces is the bouncy Bluebird pas de deux, which sees the two dancers leap and flit about the stage performing this charming, light-footed choreography!
3. The swans from Swan Lake
Bird-like movements crop up all the way through Swan Lake, most notably the wing-like arm movements displayed by Odette and her evil double Odile. But the swan is of course also an obvious metaphor for classical dance in general - a grace and fluidity only possible through the strength and power being utilised beneath the surface.
4. The chickens and rooster from La Fille mal gardée
Setting the scene for the farmyard-set La Fille mal gardée is a flock of chickens that strut and scratch their way across the stage. Joined by a leaping rooster, they perfectly set the tone for this sun-drenched pastoral pantomime!
5. The pigeons from The Two Pigeons
Instead of the long sweeping wings being referenced in Swan Lake, The Two Pigeons here utilises small, fluttering movements, vulnerable and submissive. In addition, the ballet actually features a pair of live pigeons, who symbolise the unity between the two young lovers whose story the ballet tells. You can see the birds in the video thumbnail above, although they sadly didn't attend our studio rehearsals when the clip itself was filmed!