I found out that October 2 was World Ballet Day and thought that would make a great excuse to talk about ballet today.
First, I had to find out what World Ballet Day is. The first World Ballet Day happened in 2014. The original host companies participating were the Australian Ballet, the Bolshoi Ballet, the Royal Ballet, National Ballet of Canada and the San Francisco Ballet participated. 2016 was the first year that it became a live Facebook event, the idea being that there would be 24 hours of dance content being presented via livestream. The livestreams include company classes, rehearsal, and other “exclusives.”
This year’s host companies were the Australian Ballet, the Bolshoi, and the Royal Ballet.
The Australian Ballet was established in 1962. Founding Artistic Director woman, Peggy Von Praagh. She had previously directed Sadler’s Wells Ballet before returning to Australia. I found a fun, short video on their website of one of the ballerina’s prepping her point shoes: https://australianballet.com.au/tv/en-pointe-with-jade-wood.
The Bolshoi Ballet was established in Moscow in 1776. The Bolshoi style is described as “flashy” and “colorful” in contrast to the older ballet company in St. Petersburg (originally the Imperial Ballet, then the Kirov, it is called the Mariinsky Ballet these days) which is known for is pure, classical style.
The UK’s Royal Ballet, originally called Vic-Wells Ballet, was founded by Ninette de Valois in 1931. The company was granted a royal charter and its name changed to the Royal Ballet in the 1950s. Ninette de Valois had performed with the Ballet Ruses in the 1920s and credits Serge Diaghilev with teaching her everything she knew about running a ballet company. Alicia Markova and Margot Fonteyn were some of the notable ballerinas that were a part of this company.
I started watching a video of the Royal Ballet’s company class on their website and couldn’t tear myself away (here is the link to their website: http://www.roh.org.uk/about/the-royal-ballet *scroll down to almost the bottom of the page). I love ballet class. My feet are already mad at me for just watching the tendus. However, my thighs assure me that I won’t be getting anywhere near a fifth position.
It turns out that World Ballet Day is not just for ballet. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater was among others participating. I watched a bit of their rehearsal of Rennie Harris’ Lazarus on Facebook. My first thought was, “there is a reason that rehearsal is rehearsal.” Then they got to a run-through of the work. It was sharp! I haven’t seen Ailey perform for a while and the last time I did, I was starting to feel that they had come to rely on trotting out their greatest hits. I don’t know how new this work is, but it feels fresh and I really enjoyed. It had the signature Ailey feel without being derivative.
While I didn’t watch anywhere near 24 hours of ballet, World Ballet Day reminded me that there is a lot of dance out there and it’s not that hard to find interesting dance to watch online. There are a couple of performances here locally in the next couple of weeks that I might manage to get out for. If I do, I’ll let you know!