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?’ ”