For some of us, every day feels like World Ballet Day LIVE. But the official event takes place on Thursday, October 5, with a free 22-hour live-stream relay showcasing The Australian Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet, The Royal Ballet, National Ballet of Canada and San Francisco Ballet. Each will welcome the world into company classes, rehearsals and behind-the-scenes extras.
Since 2014, WBD has become a global phenomenon—last year's broadcast reached 1.85 million viewers in 154 countries. It may seem unnerving to dance in front of the world, but "it's really fun," says SFB principal dancer Dores André. The camera crew navigates around the artists, and, André says, "I pretend they are not there."
Dancers like André, who is from Spain, love that friends and family can see what a day at the office looks like. "That's the beauty of WBD, to show not the final product but the daily work," she notes. And, she adds, "it's really interesting to see what a piece looks like on other dancers, and see what each company is good at."
WBD has grown so much that some companies have staff dedicated to the logistics. "There's a lot to consider, not just technically but also ensuring we provide content that is exciting," says Royal Ballet director Kevin O'Hare. "We have a small team in London who liaises with the other companies, and train dancers in live-presentation skills."
Royal Ballet dancers interacting with the camera crew. Photo Courtesy The Royal Opera House.
The effort is well worth it, according to SFB artistic administrator Caroline Giese, who reports that last year the company got 385,000 viewers—more than 120 times the capacity of its home theater. That audience may grow exponentially this year, as for the first time WBD will be broadcast over social media in China, potentially reaching an additional 500 million viewers. "We were humbled and thrilled," she says. "Dance needs to live beyond the stage, and WBD provides us with that platform."
The Australian Ballet dancers rehearsing "Swan Lake" during World Ballet Day 2016. Photo by Kate Longley, Courtesy The Australian Ballet.
More dancers than ever will participate too, with Les Ballets du Monte Carlo, Ballet West, Birmingham Royal Ballet, English National Ballet, Houston Ballet, National Ballet of China, Northern Ballet, National Ballet of Japan, Scottish Ballet, Singapore Dance Theatre invited to take part. So no matter what hour you tune in, expect "great access and a couple of surprises," O'Hare says. Get all the info at worldballetday.com.