The Big Picture: In perfect harmony

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The Independent Culture

Set against a deep ocean blue backdrop, these two dancers from the Royal Ballet look suspended in thin air as they leap in synch to George Balanchine's Symphony in C.

The ballet's four movements are part of a large, celebratory piece for a cast of more than 40 dancers which will bring the Royal Ballet's summer season to a close.

Balanchine, a Russian born maestro who went on to pioneer ballet in the United States, set this particular work to Bizet's "Symphony in C", which the French composer wrote at the age of 17 while studying in Paris. The score was lost after Bizet's death in 1875 and was only rediscovered in the early 1930s. Fellow Russian composer, Igor Stravinsky, alerted his old friend Balanchine to the existence of the score and encouraged him to choreograph a ballet around the work.

For ballet dancers, the piece provides ample opportunity for dizzying arrays of skill and stamina. Patterns of soloists and ensembles complement and contrast each other until the exhilarating finale brings everyone together for an uplifting climax.

The two dancers in this picture are Sergei Polunin and Yuhui Choe, two of Covent Garden's rising young stars. Choe joined the Royal Ballet in 2002, having won a year's apprenticeship with the company at the Prix de Lausanne, the most prestigious of the international student competitions. She was born in Japan to Korean parents. Ukraine-born Polunin, who is renowned for his jumping abilities despite being 5ft 11in, arrived in London the same year and has also won the Prix de Lausanne.