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A dance from Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake's second act, the fourth movement of No. 13, is titled Danse des Petites Cygnes. Its English equivalent, "Dance of the Cygnets," translates from French as "Dance of the Little Swans." The dancers must coordinate their leg motions while holding hands, which makes it extremely difficult. 


The purpose of Lev Ivanov's choreography, which he designed for the 1895 staging of Swan Lake, was to mimic how cygnets move and huddle together for safety. Four dancers enter the stage in a line, cross in front of one another, then move across the stage while holding the hands of the following dancers. They do sixteen pas de chat as they move sideways. The dancers should ideally move in perfect harmony. They break their chain and attempt to "fly" at the very end, but they fall to the ground. 


According to ballet critic Jean Battey Lewis in a 1997 NPR article, emerging dancers are frequently cast as the Little Swans. Ironically, being cast as a Little Swan may be considered as a chance to stand out, be noticed, and be given more important roles given the homogeneity demanded of the quartet.

Dance of the Little Swans for 6 Trumpets

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