People: Star Performers

Just three weeks ago, Gelsey Kirkland, 22, stepped onstage at Washington, D.C.'s Kennedy Center. She was dancing her first Giselle, the role that is the ultimate test for a ballerina. When the curtain came down, Kirkland was established as America's newest prima ballerina. She evoked memories of Makarova's lyrical lightness and the authority of Plisetskaya. But her speed is her own. Gelsey on points flies like a swallow.

Offstage, she is a piquant rag doll with huge blue eyes fringed with black lashes. Her face reflects the determination to survive in a profession...

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