Watch the Physics of Ballet's Hardest Move Explained - Atlas Obscura
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Watch the Physics of Ballet’s Hardest Move Explained

Decoding the legendary spins in Swan Lake.

It’s the moment every member of the audience has been waiting for. The black swan comes out, looks to the horizon with a defiant smile, and begins to turn round and round and round in a hypnotizing sequence that twirls you right into the climax of the story.

The role of princess Odette and the enchantress Odile (usually danced by the same ballerina) in Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake is one of the most coveted roles in ballet. Not only is the story beautiful and the ballet timeless, but the roles have some of the most challenging moves in dance, including the legendary 32 fouettés.

Literally meaning “whipped” or “whisked,” the move is comprised of 32 consecutive turns on one pointed foot. If it sounds impossible, it’s because it almost is. So much so, that this video has been made to explain the physics of it. It turns out, it’s all about momentum, velocity, inertia, and gravity.

Of course, you knew this, but seeing it broken down and illustrated is something else.

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