New York City Ballet's "Very Brief History of Ballet"

New York City Ballet has created a charming video trailer for their Spring HERE/NOW season, a festival of works created for the company over the past several decades. It's a great complement to the Royal Ballet videos (check them out at the bottom of the post!) detailing how ballet has evolved over the past 200 years or so. And, as I wrote in March, ballet trailers are getting more and more beautiful.


Ballet historians might notice that the female characters from Nijinsky's L'après midi d'un Faune are wearing pointe shoes. In the actual version, the female characters are in sandals. Also, the dancers representing the romantic, early-1800s era of ballet give themselves away with distinctive "Balanchine" hands. The trailer is more "New York City Ballet does dance history," and less an historical reenactment.

On a slightly more sour note, I can't help but notice that the hyper-sexualized role of the Faun is given to one of the company's few African-American men, Christopher Grant, while the elegant Prince Siegfried is danced by a white man, principal Ask la Cour. Both are principal roles, requiring different kinds of virtuosity, and either dancer might be better suited for either role. It's hard not to wonder whether unconscious perceptions influenced casting.

In the same vein, corps member Olivia Boisson has been getting a lot of air time lately, what with this trailer and the company's partnership with PUMA. Yet her stage time has not appeared to keep pace, at least not in featured roles. With all the talk about racial diversity in ballet, companies might feel pressure to make cosmetic changes to their most outward-facing media outlets (like YouTube videos) and feature their dancers of color—while not featuring them onstage. Let's hope that Boisson's prominence and Grant's moment in a principal role are good signs for the Spring season.

Watch the Royal Ballet videos below:

For more news on all things ballet, don't miss a single issue.

Latest Posts


Getty Images

Class of 2020, These Ballet Stars Have a Heartfelt Video Message Just for You

Congratulations to this year's graduating seniors!

You might not have had the chance to take that long planned-for final bow, but we're here to cheer you on and celebrate all that you've accomplished. And we've brought together stars from across the ballet world to help us; check out the video to hear their best wishes for your futures.

To further fête all of the ballet grads out there, we're also giving away 100 free subscriptions to Pointe... plus, one lucky bunhead will receive a personalized message from one of ballet's biggest stars. Click here to enter!


Courtesy Boylston

Is the #EsmeraldaChallenge Quarantine's Next Big Thing?

By this point in the coronavirus pandemic shutdown, people are completely burned out on dancing at home. So it's no surprise that last week, all-around dance superstar Alex Wong posted a video on Instagram performing the famous La Esmeralda variation... but in his living room. And with a frying pan instead of a tambourine.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Tulsa Ballet in Ma Cong's Tchaikovsky: The Man Behind the Music. Kate Luber Photography, Courtesy Tulsa Ballet.

Updated: Mark Your Calendars for These Online Ballet Performances

Updated on 5/27/2020

Since COVID-19 has forced ballet companies around the world to cancel performances—and even the remainder of their seasons—many are keeping their audiences engaged by streaming or posting pre-recorded performances onto their websites or social media channels. To help keep you inspired during these challenging times, we've put together a list of upcoming streaming events and digital performances.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks