NEWS: World Ballet Day 2019, 23 October 2019

 

Clear your diary, today is World Ballet Day 2019!

 

Ballet companies around the world open their digital doors on World Ballet Day, inviting us to witness hard work happening in the studio and creativity at play in rehearsals.

The first ever Ballet Day took place in October 2012 when The Royal Ballet streamed a nine-hour day of behind-the-scenes footage. This live broadcast attracted 200,000 viewers and, since then, over 3.6 million viewers have watched via the company’s YouTube archive.

Following the success of this initial celebration, The Royal Ballet united with other major ballet companies all over the world in 2014 to create an annual occasion unlike any other in the dance calendar. Boasting 24 hours of non-stop ballet from all corners of the earth, World Ballet Day offers viewers the chance to discover how different companies strut their stuff. The programme includes company class, rehearsals and interviews with dancers, directors and choreographers.

Unsurprisingly, World Ballet Day is one of my favourite days of the year!

 

World Ballet Day 2019. Georgina Butler – wearing a black leotard, tutu and pointe shoes – sitting on the floor looking at her phone, ready to watch the annual online celebration of ballet.

 

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REVIEW: The Royal Ballet’s ‘Medusa’ mixed bill – Cinemas worldwide, May 2019

 

The Royal Ballet confidently dances distinctive works from three leading contemporary choreographers in the Medusa mixed bill: Within the Golden Hour / Medusa / Flight Pattern.

 

Medusa is a brand new narrative work from acclaimed Belgian choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. Created on The Royal Ballet, with Natalia Osipova in the title role, it is his first commission for the company.

Cherkaoui draws on his training in ballet, hip-hop, tap, jazz and flamenco to devise dance for an impressive range of performers. His eclectic style means he is in demand with major ballet companies and major pop stars alike. He is artistic director of Royal Ballet of Flanders; artistic director of his own contemporary dance company, Eastman; and an associate artist at Sadler’s Wells.

Within the Golden Hour, choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon, is an abstract ballet devised for San Francisco Ballet in 2008 and first performed by The Royal Ballet in 2006.

Wheeldon trained at The Royal Ballet School before joining The Royal Ballet in 1991. He later moved to New York City Ballet where he was promoted to soloist before becoming the company’s first resident choreographer. Wheeldon, who was made an OBE in 2016, is now artistic associate of The Royal Ballet and regularly choreographs for leading international companies.

Flight Pattern was Canadian choreographer Crystal Pite’s first work for The Royal Ballet. When this large-scale ensemble piece exploring the plight of refugees premiered in 2017, it was the company’s first new mainstage work by a woman in eighteen years.

Pite is a former member of Ballet British Columbia and William Forsythe’s Frankfurt Ballet. Her professional choreographic debut was in 1990, at Ballet British Columbia, and she has since created more than fifty works. Pite is the recipient of three Olivier awards, including one in 2017 for Flight Pattern.

 

Broadcasting performances such as the Medusa mixed bill in cinemas makes it possible for audiences outside London to experience exceptional dance. Long may the creation, and widespread consumption, of ballet continue – I love being able to pop to my local cinema to watch The Royal Ballet in action!

 

Medusa mixed bill

 

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NEWS: World Ballet Day 2018, 2 October 2018

 

Happy World Ballet Day 2018!

 

Today is World Ballet Day, the one day of the year that balletomanes and ballet newbies alike are urged to press pause on their everyday activities and watch ballet.

American writer and dance critic Edwin Denby (1903–1983) is attributed to the quote: “You don’t have to know about ballet to enjoy it, all you have to do is look at it”. I support this sentiment. Simply witnessing ballet dancers do what they do best is enough to inspire admiration for ballet’s athleticism, aesthetics, artistry and amazing history and culture.

 

Georgina Butler, wearing a purple leotard and black tutu, posing en pointe. A World Ballet Day celebration.

 

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NEWS: World Ballet Day 2017, 5 October 2017

 

Happy World Ballet Day 2017!

 

Today, Thursday 5 October 2017, is World Ballet Day 2017.

As someone who has never known life without ballet, I would be lost without it. Ballet class has always been my favourite place to be. Moreover, my professional life revolves around watching ballet, learning about ballet, writing about ballet and teaching ballet. Essentially, most of my days are ballet days!

Still, today is an extra special day. It is all about celebrating what makes ballet important to us, sharing our love of ballet with those who have the same passion and encouraging everyone else to discover ballet for themselves.

World Ballet Day 2017 is the fourth edition of the annual celebration and the format of the international online event remains the same. Five of the world’s top ballet companies are live-streaming footage from their studios today to give us an insight into the day-to-day athleticism and dedication that life as a professional ballet dancer requires. Throughout an incredible 22 hours of live filming, viewers will see some of the most talented dancers on the planet take their daily ballet class, rehearse for upcoming performances and work with esteemed choreographers. We will also be treated to interviews with company directors, dancers and teachers – and be urged to get involved in discussions ourselves by joining the ballet buzz on social media.

 

Georgina Butler, wearing a pink leotard and black tutu, kneeling in an elegant ballet pose on a large flat rock in an idyllic garden. Photo by Terry Grehan.

 

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INTERVIEW with Dame Gillian Lynne, October 2016

 

Acclaimed choreographer and director Dame Gillian Lynne is a legendary figure in the arts, with a career spanning more than seven decades.

Her achievements include being a ballerina with Sadler’s Wells Ballet (now The Royal Ballet), performing centre stage as the London Palladium’s lead dancer and choreographing iconic musicals.

Georgina Butler made the most of an opportunity to chat with a dance superstar.

 

Gillian Lynne is a household name; a VIP in the world of dance and theatre. Her CV is packed with soloist roles as a ballerina; guest appearances as a dancer on the stage and on television; and countless productions on which she has worked her magic as an internationally sought-after director and choreographer.

Joining the Ballet Guild in 1942, aged sixteen, marked the beginning of Gillian’s career as a professional dancer. By chance, Ninette de Valois, the founder of Sadler’s Wells Ballet (which later became The Royal Ballet), saw Gillian dancing as Odette in Ballet Guild’s production of Swan Lake and immediately decided she wanted the talented young artist in her company. When Gillian accepted this invitation, she was the first dancer to join Sadler’s Wells Ballet who had not studied at its prestigious feeder school (now The Royal Ballet School). Possessing a gift for dancing; a desire to follow her dreams; and a tenacious work ethic, Gillian flourished as a ballerina and was later an instant success at the London Palladium and in subsequent roles in the West End.

Perhaps most famous for her ground-breaking choreography in Cats and The Phantom of the Opera (both with Andrew Lloyd Webber), Gillian has choreographed or directed over sixty productions in the West End and on Broadway. These productions have won numerous accolades and Gillian has been presented with multiple awards, including two Olivier Awards – one for Outstanding Achievement with Cats in 1981, the other a Lifetime Achievement Special Olivier presented to her in 2013.

 

Dame Gillian Lynne. Photograph by Greg Heisler, April 2009.

 

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