The Washington Ballet’s hardest dance moves, dissected (VIDEO)

Power is usually hidden in ballet. This video by PostTV uncovers it. What can pass in just a few musical beats during a performance — the corkscrew jumps, the ballerina who seems to fly apart in the air only to land with perfect poise — is dissected here for the speed, timing and calibrated force that audience members might miss if they blinked. These dancers from the Washington Ballet push themselves to extremes with a physical power that soccer stars, gymnasts and shortstops would surely appreciate.

You won’t see all these moves in the company’s production of “Peter Pan,” which the Washington Ballet performs April 16-27. These dancers don’t need wires to fly for their brief, spectacular bursts. Consider Chong Sun, twisting himself around like taffy as he shoots across the studio space. An acrobat in the air, he lands like a prince, dropping cleanly to one knee as if to offer his lady a rose.

Maki Onuki’s split leap can be a real kick in the head — literally. It’s a ballerina’s version of a cheerleader’s C-jump, which is fine for a bright, lively ballet like “Don Quixote,” where that jump is expected. Explosive skills don’t belong in every ballet, though; a heavy push for power can take away from grace, which depends on natural, relaxed ease. As any dancer can tell you, the art is all in achieving the right balance.

Tickets for “Peter Pan” are available from the Washington Ballet.

Sarah Kaufman received the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Criticism and has been The Washington Post's dance critic since 1996. But after logging serious sit-time in opera houses, black boxes, folding chairs and dive bars, what moves her most is seeing grace happen where she least expects it.
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