Watch: Our 7 All-Time Favorite World Ballet Day Moments

When we heard rumors earlier this summer that World Ballet Day LIVE might get cancelled this year, we thought our hearts might break.

But we needn't have worried! The happy news came out yesterday that our favorite day of the year is back: World Ballet Day LIVE 2017 is officially scheduled for October 5. Clear your calendar for a serious bunhead binge of live behind-the-scenes footage from the Australian Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet, Royal Ballet, National Ballet of Canada and San Francisco Ballet—plus special video broadcasts from other top companies.

The news got the Dance Magazine staff all nostalgic. We started reminiscing about our favorite highlights from past World Ballet Day LIVE events. Our top picks?


1. When Steven McRae Wore A GoPro for Ballet Class

Why is Royal Ballet principal Steven McRae wearing a GoPro for company class? Apparently, to show viewers at home class from the point of view of a dancer. "I'm going to try not to do too many pirouettes to make you feel ill!" McRae told an interviewer. (We would love to know where we could find the full footage from that GoPro.) Side note: Major kudos to McRae's then-8-months pregnant wife Elizabeth Harrod, who was still killing it in class alongside the also very pregnant soloist Laura McCulloch.

2. When We Peeked in on David Dawson's New Swan Lake

This 16-minute transmission from the Scottish Ballet in 2015 gave us an insider's look at the creative process of David Dawson, a choreographer we've long been intrigued by but rarely see in the U.S. We fell in love with his twitchy, gooey reinterpretation of what classifies as "swan-like" movement.

3. When We Found Out NDT Sets Up Their Barres Like a Boxing Ring

We love that Nederlands Dans Theater was invited to participate last year. Of course, rehearsals with Paul Lightfoot and Sol Leon were just as mesmerizing to watch as we'd expect. But what struck us most were actually the short opening clips of company class, in which the teacher appears to be surrounded on all four sides by ballet barres, as though he were in the middle of a boxing ring!

4. When We Met Leanne Cope

Okay, we know this was not technically part of World Ballet Day, but its precursor: Royal Ballet LIVE. That event marked the first time that many dance lovers outside of London were introduced to Leanne Cope, then part of the Royal Ballet's corps. Liam Scarlett had chosen her as a lead in his new creation, Sweet Violets, and the Dance Magazine editors were all asking each other, Who is that girl? Of course, before long, Christopher Wheeldon handpicked her to be the lead in Broadway's An American in Paris—and we didn't hesitate to put her on our December 2014 cover.

5. When We Got to Watch Svetlana Zakharova and Denis Rodkin Rehearse

The ballet itself—Yuri Grigorovitch's A Legend of Love—may not be our favorite. But the footage of the Bolshoi's Svetlana Zakharova and Denis Rodkin working out its details in the studio (starting around minute 57) is simply epic.

6. When Helgi Tomasson Coached SFB in Giselle

Sofiane Sylve. Yuan Yuan Tan. Mathilde Froustey. Tiit Helimets. Carlo Di Lanno. So many of our favorite San Francisco Ballet principals were put through their paces by artistic director Helgi Tomasson in this clip of the company rehearsing Giselle's second act (which starts around minute 3:45). It's like a master class in romantic ballet.

7. When Marianela Nuñez Was Surprised With Birthday Cake

Royal Ballet LIVE happened to fall on principal Marianela Nuñez's 30th birthday. Which of course required a post-rehearsal celebration, which obviously garnered an adorably happy reaction from the exquisite ballerina. Ballet + cake = our new favorite combo.

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Clockwise from top left: Photo by Loreto Jamlig, Courtesy Ladies of Hip-Hop; Wikimedia Commons; Photo by Alexander Iziliaev, Courtesy Pennsylvania Ballet; Natasha Razina, Courtesy State Academic Mariinsky Theatre; Photo by Will Mayer for Better Half Productions, Courtesy ABT

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Christopher Duggan, Courtesy Nichols

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Comments have been pouring in from every angle imaginable: from history lessons on black face, to people outside of the ballet world expressing disbelief that this happens in 2019, to castigations of Copeland for exposing these young girls to the line of fire for what is ultimately the Bolshoi's costuming choice, to the accusations that the girls—no matter their cultural competence—should have known better.

I am a black dancer, and in 2003, when I was 11 years old, I was dressed up in blackface to perform in the Mariinsky Ballet's production of La Bayadère.

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