The first ever World Ballet Day will see an unprecedented collaboration between five of the world’s leading ballet companies from five different countries: Russia, The United Kingdom, America, Canada and Australia.
The online event will take place on Wednesday 1 October when the Australian Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet, The Royal Ballet, The National Ballet of Canada and San Francisco Ballet will stream live behind the scenes action from their rehearsal studios.
Starting at the beginning of the dancers’ day, each of the five ballet companies will take the lead for a four hour period streaming live from their headquarters starting with the Australian Ballet in Melbourne. The live link then passes across time zones and cultures from Melbourne to Moscow to London to Toronto to San Francisco.
The live stream will give viewers rare access to the backstage lives of ballet dancers, it will also provide an unusual opportunity to observe the differences in style between the five companies: the basic routine may be similar but the approach to class, choreography and performance defines the ways that have made them unique on the world stage. Starting with morning class to warm up the body, moving on to rehearsals for their upcoming performances, the day will be a celebration of dance.
Viewers will be able to engage and interact with dancers, choreographers and coaches who live and breathe ballet every day of their working lives, with the possibility to ask questions throughout the day. Exhibitionists among the viewers – and if they are dancers there’ll be a few! – will have the opportunity to contribute by submitting a film of themselves doing a pirouette wherever they are in the world. These will be edited into a film celebrating the worldwide appeal of dance.
The day’s streaming will be repeated on YouTube in full so that viewers around the world can catch up on any parts of the day they missed. Edited highlights will then be made available for further viewing.
World Ballet Day was developed after the success of Royal Ballet Live which was a nine-hour live streaming event via YouTube and The Guardian website in March 2012. There were 200,000 views of the live stream and repeat broadcast and a total of 2.5 million views of YouTube Royal Ballet Live material to date. It is, however, the first time that four of the five ballet companies are taking the cameras backstage to reveal the sweat and determination of these talented dancers.
In another first, this collaboration is the first time that YouTube has streamed live more than nine hours of content.
Highlights from The Royal Ballet will include Principals Marianela Nuñez and Federico Bonelli rehearsing for their performances of Kenneth MacMillan’s Manon which opens at Covent Garden on Friday 26 September and is screened live into cinemas across the world on Thursday 16 October.
The Royal Ballet in rehearsal: Tetractys – The Art of Fugue, The Royal Ballet © ROH/Johan Persson, 2014
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.