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Seeing the world's greatest ballet companies and comparing their styles and personalities is a ballet lover's dream. On October 4, fans will have the chance to do just that as five companies participate in the third annual 23-hour live-streaming event known as World Ballet Day LIVE. The Royal Ballet, The Australian Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet and National Ballet of Canada will throw open their doors for four hours each of classes, rehearsals, interviews and backstage preparations on worldballetday.com. Each host company will also show a prerecorded video package of two or three other ballet companies roughly in their time zone.
The inspiration for World Ballet Day LIVE came from The Royal Ballet, which in 2012 hosted its own nine-hour live-streaming event via YouTube and The Guardian website, called Royal Ballet Live. It was so successful that in 2014 the troupe decided to invite other companies for a full-day event starting in Australia and ending in San Francisco. “The goal was to highlight the art form for a wider audience, to create the opportunity to talk about ballet in a different way and to allow general audiences behind the scenes to see what a day in the life of a ballet company looks like," says Mary Beth Smith, San Francisco Ballet's director of marketing and communications.
Due to viewer requests, this year's web stream will feature entire company classes, including barre. Because SFB will be rehearsing for an upcoming tour of Christopher Wheeldon's Cinderella and performances of William Forsythe's Pas/Part 2016, those ballets are likely to be seen in rehearsal. National Ballet of Canada will feature rehearsals of Onegin, Cinderella and a film of The Dreamers Ever Leave You, choreographic associate Robert Binet's audience-immersive ballet inspired by the paintings of Lawren Harris, at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Viewers can bank on there being equally exciting and diverse programming from The Royal Ballet, The Australian Ballet and Bolshoi Ballet in the midst of their fall seasons.
The continued participation of the five ballet companies has real advantages. In 2014, SFB saw $80,000 of revenue impact from the webcast by running promotional ticket discounts during the event. “World Ballet Day LIVE gives us the opportunity to create a sense of community with this art form we all care about so much. It's clearly getting a very sizable audience and it's growing pretty dramatically each year," says Caroline Giese, SFB's artistic administrator. Last year the event clocked in 350,000 live-stream views. “It's an opportunity to engage our existing audience and audiences around the world and provide them with the answer to the question: 'How do you do what you do?' "
Rebecca Warthen was on a year-long assignment with the Peace Corps in Dominica last fall when a storm started brewing. A former dancer with North Carolina Dance Theatre (now Charlotte Ballet) and Columbia City Ballet, she'd been sent to the Caribbean island nation to teach ballet at the Dominica Institute of the Arts and in outreach classes at public schools.
But nine and a half months into her assignment, a tropical storm grew into what would become Hurricane Maria—the worst national disaster in Dominica's history.
On the occasion of its 70th anniversary, the Ballet Nacional de Cuba tours the U.S. this spring with the resolute Cuban prima ballerina assoluta Alicia Alonso a the helm. Named a National Hero of Labor in Cuba, Alonso, 97, has weathered strained international relations and devastating fiscal challenges to have BNC emerge as a world-class dance company. Her dancers are some of ballet's best. On offer this time are Alonso's Giselle and Don Quixote. The profoundly Cuban company performs in Chicago May 18–20, Tampa May 23, Washington, D.C., May 29–June 3 and Saratoga, New York June 6–8.
Ever wonder why some dancers' port de bras appears to be disconnected from their body? It typically comes down to how they stabilize their shoulder blades, says Marimba Gold-Watts, Pilates instructor to dancers like Robert Fairchild.
"Dancers often hear the cue to pull down on their latissimus,"—the biggest muscle in the back—"which doesn't allow the shoulder blades to lie flat," she says. "It makes the bottom tips of the shoulder blades wing, or flare out, off the rib cage."
Sidra Bell is one of those choreographers whose movement dancers are drawn to. Exploring the juxtaposition of fierce athleticism and pure honesty in something as simple as stillness, her work brings her dancers to the depths of their abilities and the audience to the edge of their seats.
A few weeks ago, American Ballet Theatre announced the A.B.T. Women's Movement, a new program that will support three women choreographers per season, one of whom will make work on the main company.
"The ABT Women's Movement takes inspiration from the groundbreaking female choreographers who have left a lasting impact on ABT's legacy, including Agnes de Mille and Twyla Tharp," said artistic director Kevin McKenzie in a press release.
Hypothetically, this is a great idea. We're all for more ballet commissions for women. But the way ABT has promoted the initiative is problematic.
Some dancers move to New York City with their sights set on a dream job: that one choreographer or company they have to dance for. But when Maggie Cloud graduated from Florida State University in 2010, she envisioned herself on a less straightforward path.
"I always had in mind that I would be dancing for different people," she says. "I knew I had some kind of range that I wanted to tap into."
New York City Ballet is celebrating the Jerome Robbins Centennial with twenty (20!) ballets. The great American choreographer died in 1998, so very few of today's dancers have actually worked with him. There are plenty of stories about how demanding (at times brutally so) he could be in rehearsal. But Peter Boal has written about Robbins in a more balanced, loving way. In this post he writes about how Robbins' crystal clear imagery helped him approach a role with clarity and purpose.
Who says you need fancy equipment to make a festival-worthy dance film? Right now, two New York City–based dance film festivals are calling for aspiring filmmakers to show their stuff—and you don't need anything more cumbersome than a smartphone to get in on the action.
Here's everything you need to know about how to submit:
When Lisset Santander bourréed onstage as Myrtha in BalletMet's Giselle this past February, her consummate portrayal of the Queen of the Wilis was marked by steely grace and litheness. The former Cuban National Ballet dancer had defected to the U.S. at 21, and after two years with the Ohio company, she's now closer to the dance career she says she always wanted: one of limitless possibilities.