A lake is a familiar setting for a ballet, though usually its shore is home to swans or Wilis. In “The Lake” section of Alvin Ailey’s The River, which he choreographed for American Ballet Theatre in 1970, the dancers represent the water itself. In this clip, former ABT principal Cynthia Gregory appears clad in a simple dress of muted gray, like the color of silt stirred up from a lake’s murky bottom. To the plucking strings and sonorous horns of Duke Ellington’s score, she commands our attention with her swirling and confident shapes.
Let’s face it—ballet has a lot of death. There’s Odette and Siegfried’s double suicide, Giselle’s famous collapse (not to mention the Willis’ revenge on poor Hilarion) and don’t even get me started on the body count that Romeo and Juliet’s love leaves in its wake. Dramatic death scenes require some serious acting skills, which Italian prima ballerina Carla Fracci delivers in this clip of La Sylphide, filmed for television in 1962. Fracci enacts the Sylph’s demise with poetic grace.
World Ballet Day LIVE, a glorious, 23-hour livestream that takes us inside five of the world’s leading ballet companies, technically begins October 1. But while our calendars in the Western Hemisphere currently say September 30, in Melbourne, Australia—home of The Australian Ballet—it’s already the first of the month. Since the Australian Ballet kicks off the simulcast, that means the live-feed starts tonight—10:00 pm EST, to be exact.