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Performance: White Swan Pas de Deux

Misty Copeland

Lesson time 5:09 min

Watch as Misty and her dance partner, Calvin Royal III, perform the White Swan pas de deux. Sharing the story of Swan Lake, Misty emphasizes the importance of understanding both your role and your partner’s to create a compelling performance.

Misty Copeland
Teaches Ballet Technique and Artistry
American Ballet Theatre principal dancer Misty Copeland teaches you how to build your technique, embrace your story, and own your movement.
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[MUSIC PLAYING] CREW: In front of the marker. Misty, set? - Yep. CREW: And play back. [MUSIC - "SWAN LAKE OP. 20 ACT II"] - Yay! That was good! - Thanks. All right. [MUSIC PLAYING] - The story of "Swan Lake" starts out with a prologue where you see this young girl who is human. And she's kind of wandering through the forest. And she gets stopped by a stranger, a man. And as soon as she gets close enough, he kind of takes hold of her. And he ends up being von Rothbart, which is like this, I don't know, like, sorcerer-type character that puts a spell on her and kind of does this-- has been doing this for long periods of time, where he's turning these women into swans. And there's a prince who it is now time for him to marry. And so it's his birthday. And he's given a bow as a gift. And so he goes off to the lake. And that's where he sees Odette for the first time, which is the white swan. She's the queen of the swans. And that role, in particular-- Odette-- is such an iconic role within the ballet repertoire. And so they have a whole interaction where he's trying to express to her, like, I'm not here to hurt you. Like, he's just kind of fascinated by the beauty he sees with this woman that's not really a human. And so the whole second act is this relationship building. They kind of have this understanding. And she's falling for him. He has sworn, you know, to-- to marry her and to have her heart. And she's trying to tell them that if he swears to marry me and then ends up, you know, falling in love with someone else, then the spell will never be broken. And then she will forever remain a swan. So in the third act, von Rothbart comes back, the one who turned her into a swan. And he says, we have to find a way to distract him and to get him to fall in love with someone else. So he has Odile come to the party. She's typically played by the same dancer. So when I do "Swan Lake," I will play the white swan and the black swan, even though they're supposed to be different people. And what has become one of the most famous parts of "Swan Lake," which are the 32 fouettés, the point of that part of the story is to create this whirlwind, this swirling movement that makes him just lose his mind. But the act ends where he goes to swear that he's going to love this other swan, which he thinks is the white swan. And then it's revealed that it's not her. And so he's kind of ruined everything. And that's kind of, like, the end of the opportunity for them to ever be together. And so in the fourth act, it ends with her, kind of, jumping off of a cliff and killing herself. And then he follows through with her and jumps off and kills himself. And so the whole thing ends with us together in heaven-- quite the tragedy. Drama.

Bring emotion to life

As the first African American female principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre, Misty Copeland made history. Now she’s one of the world’s most influential dancers, and she’s inviting you to the barre to develop a deeper appreciation for ballet and the language of dance. From pliés to partners, Misty demonstrates her techniques and teaches you to own your movement, own who you are, and do the dance only you can do.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

As an independant freelance dancer, is always good to fill yourself with knowledge in how to keep approaching your practice & that every experience is valid.

misty copeland is a black dancer who was judged,made fun of because of her tone

It was wonderful to see Misty Copeland dancing from even closer than a front row seat. I liked the barre warmup too the balance/small adjustments.

I have really enjoyed this MasterClass. I am huge fan of Misty Copeland I respect her deeply. In this MasterClass she really taught me what I already knew but with more meaning and more depth. I feel that it's helped me develop my own story and it's helped me learn how to express that while dancing and performing.


Joan S.

I liked this lesson a lot. The foundational exercises are just what I need to get stronger. They are hard to do correctly right now, but I can see that if I do them consistently I will become stronger and more in control! Yay!


Loving this Masterclass so far but, 3/4 shots and close-ups don't really work for dance. Would love to see a wide master so that we can actually see the dancing.

Meghan G.

I loved this lesson. As a dancer who has only taken mostly Tap for her whole life with some Jazz and a little bit of Ballet sprinkled in, I found Misty’s Introduction video very inspirational. I also really enjoyed learning the story behind Swan Lake.

Giamanta E.

It was great I was hoping for more I got through it uite fast an also I just saw that if I am not mistaking Natalie Portman of Master class is also around she was also in a ballet movie The Black Swan I saw the trailer I like her roles she gets to play an how she performs I am not sure I am ready to watch the above mentioned movie I do not remember if the reason I did not watch it was of the genre .I liked the Theme:Ballet but I just could not watch it.Klassieke Ballet from Rene Vincent turned out to be a good book I saw it in the library of Curacao first .Then I found out with Apple Iphone there is allot variety Ballet apps .I got my self a Ballet Dictionary,another app which showes move ments in slow an how to pronounce in French,An one more to practice bar it has music an you can ad more speed to the song etc. There's dvd also ,an allot being offerd on US Amazone.