A global first sees top ballet companies lift the curtain to offer fans a glimpse into the rehearsal rooms and the worldwide appeal of dance continues to inspire me…

 

The hard work, creativity and passion that underpins ballet will be centre stage for all to see today during the first ever World Ballet Day.

This global online event is offering unprecedented access to a regular day at five leading international ballet companies. Fans will go behind-the-scenes at The Australian Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet, The Royal Ballet, The National Ballet of Canada and San Francisco Ballet thanks to a live video stream. The collaboration is the first of its kind. Unsurprisingly, balletomanes everywhere cannot wait to journey from country to country and see a snippet of the backstage lives of their favourite dancers.

Each of the five ballet companies will take it in turns to stream a four-hour period live from their headquarters. Streaming will start at the beginning of the dancers’ day, with class.  The live link will begin in Melbourne with The Australian Ballet, before passing across time zones to visit Moscow; followed by stops in London, Toronto and, finally, San Francisco.

As part of this celebration of dance, we will see how vital the daily ballet class is to everyone – from the principal dancers to the corps de ballet members. We will also gain a deeper insight into how the companies’ differing ways of approaching choreography and performance make them unique on the world stage.

Wherever you happen to be in the world, a ballet class follows the same progression of exercises (from the focused sequences at the barre to the more elaborate and explosive routines danced in the centre) and demands the same dedication from participants. Simply put, you get out of a class what you put into it.

 

Ballet Papier Senior Company Class

Dedicated dancers are always ready to give their all in class (Illustration by Ballet Papier artist Berenice)

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A musical adaptation of Germaine Shames’ beautiful book is set to bring a forgotten ballerina’s life to the stage…

 

American author Germaine Shames began researching the narrative of her biographical novel You, Fascinating You nearly a decade ago. This powerful tale reveals the hidden epic behind a timeless love song and provides an insight into the life of headstrong Jewish ballerina Margit Wolf.

First published in 2012, the book won an Editor’s Choice award from the Historical Novel Society.

Now, a future on Broadway beckons. The true story of this unforgettable Hungarian woman and her romance with an up-and-coming Italian composer has been adapted as a musical that is currently being prepared for its stage debut.

 

You, Fascinating You on Broadway

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You, Fascinating You by Germaine ShamesA moving and inspiring novel

 

The rarefied world of classical ballet demands sacrifice and determination. Fittingly, Germaine Shames’ compelling novel You, Fascinating You shines a spotlight on the life of a dancer whose strength of character, passion for her art and heroic human spirit evoke nothing but admiration.

You, Fascinating You is a heart-rending work of fiction based on the true story of a gifted Jewish ballerina and her romance with a Catholic Neapolitan composer.

In the final weeks of 1938, in the shadow of Kristallnacht and imminent war, a heartsick Italian maestro named Pasquale Frustaci, wrote a love song called Tu, Solamente Tu.

The lyrics lamented his forced separation from his wife, the Hungarian ballerina Margit Wolf, in the wake of Mussolini’s edict banishing foreign Jews from Italy.

This anthem of longing proved to be a universal hit and earned its composer the moniker ‘the Italian Cole Porter’. Various versions made the melody popular all over Europe. Zarah Leander, the leading film star of the German Reich, sang the German variant  (Du Immer Wieder Du), while the Glenn Miller Army Air Force Band performed the English rendition: You, Fascinating You.

Twenty-two years passed before the maestro and his ballerina were reunited face-to-face.

You, Fascinating You is their story – an absorbing read for balletomanes, history buffs and fans of real-life epics.

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