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Tchaikovsky Pas de deux

Balanchine’s brief and brilliant ballet is set to music Tchaikovsky originally wrote for Swan Lake, and is a breathtaking display of bravura technique.

Most recent performance

There are currently no scheduled performances of Tchaikovsky Pas de deux. It was last on stage 26 October—12 November 2015.


Balanchine follows the structure of a classical pas de deux: first the man and woman dance together, then each has a solo variation. Finally they come together in a dazzling coda.


Balanchine created the ten-minute Tchaikovsky Pas de deux in 1960, to show off the virtuosity of New York City Ballet principals Violette Verdy and Conrad Ludlow. He was also inspired by the music, a newly-discovered fragment of the 1877 Swan Lake score. Tchaikovsky had been asked by the dancer Anna Sobeshchanskaya to create music for a new pas de deux in Act III – which was not included in the printed score, and so was not used by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov in their definitive 1895 production. Almost as soon as the music was discovered Balanchine requested permission to choreograph it. The result is a work that pushed the classical pas de deux to new extremes.

Tchaikovsky Pas de deux has quicksilver footwork for the ballerina, powerhouse jumps and turns for the man and split-second balances and vertiginous dives in the coda. It’s celebrated as one of ballet’s most bravura duets, and has been taken in to the repertories of companies around the world. It was first performed by The Royal Ballet in 1964 by Verdy and David Blair, and has since become a showcase for the Company’s talented dancers.

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