Happy World Ballet Day!
Today, Thursday 5th October 2017, is World Ballet Day.
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.
This year’s World Ballet Day is the fourth edition and the format of the international online event remains the same. Five of the world’s top ballet companies are livestreaming 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’ll 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.
“Dancing in all its forms cannot be excluded from the curriculum of all noble education; dancing with the feet, with ideas, with words, and need I add that one must also be able to dance with the pen?”
– Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche
On Wednesday 12th July 2017, I became a First Class Honours graduate of the Royal Academy of Dance.
The Royal Academy of Dance is one of the world’s most influential institutions for dance education and dance teacher training. Founded by an international group of dancers and dance teachers in 1920 to set standards for dance teaching in the United Kingdom, the organisation now operates in 85 countries. Its classical ballet syllabus is taught globally, with over 240,000 candidates taking Royal Academy of Dance ballet examinations each year. Beyond this, an ever-increasing programme of outreach work takes dance into diverse communities, while the Faculty of Education’s research develops knowledge which informs and inspires dance enthusiasts all over the world.
I have graduated from the Royal Academy of Dance’s BA (Hons) Dance Education programme. This varied programme not only equips graduates with the anatomical, musical and pedagogical knowledge and understanding to teach dance but also engages with philosophical, professional and practical issues in the fields of dance and dance education.
Acclaimed choreographer and theatre/television director Dame Gillian Lynne is a legendary figure in the arts. With a career spanning more than 70 years, 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 some of the world’s most iconic musicals.
Georgina Butler made the most of an opportunity to converse with the multi-award-winning 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 16, 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 60 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 an Award for Outstanding Achievement for her choreography of Cats in 1981, the other a Lifetime Achievement ‘Special’ Olivier presented to her in 2013.
One day. Five ballet companies. Live and Online.
World Ballet Day LIVE, the marathon live-stream featuring exclusive behind-the-scenes access to the top ballet companies on the planet, returns on Tuesday 4th October 2016.
In my world, every day is ballet day! I fill as many of my waking hours as possible with dance writing, reviewing, studying and teaching – all while endeavouring to ensure I never miss any opportunity to participate in a ballet class myself. This means that I eat, breathe and sleep dance most days. Unsurprisingly, I have nothing but enthusiasm for World Ballet Day LIVE. The now-annual event brings balletomanes across the globe together, for one special day, to share in the sheer joy of watching professional ballet dancers do their thing.
The Australian Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet, The Royal Ballet, The National Ballet of Canada and San Francisco Ballet are the five leading companies opening up their studios to audiences during the 20 hours of non-stop broadcasting. Viewers will have the chance to observe each company’s morning ballet class; acquire insight into choreographic and rehearsal processes; hear from influential and inspiring industry insiders and discover more about ballet from incredibly talented individuals who have dedicated their lives to the art form.
This Christmas, renowned British dancer, director, choreographer, actor and panellist Wayne Sleep will perform in pantomime at Milton Keynes Theatre. Before the busy rehearsal period began, Wayne had a bit of a chinwag with Georgina Butler…
Famous for being the shortest male dancer to ever attend The Royal Ballet School (he is 5’2″), Wayne Sleep is best known for his career as a celebrated Senior Principal Dancer with The Royal Ballet. Numerous roles were created for him by some of the world’s greatest choreographers and he frequently featured as a guest artist with other companies.
Appointed OBE in 1998, Wayne has also received honorary degrees from the Universities of Exeter and Teesside; is a Patron of the British Ballet Organization; is a Vice-President of the Royal Academy of Dance and has two entries in The Guinness Book of Records. In addition to dancing, Wayne also acts and makes appearances as a dance judge and celebrity. His credits include West End, regional and touring theatre productions; television shows and films – not to mention a plethora of pantomimes!