Have we mentioned that we love ballet movies? Thankfully, Dutch National Ballet just gave us something new to look forward to. The company announced today that filming is now underway for Coppelia, a new star-studded fusion of animation and ballet set to be released at the end of 2020. And, wait for it... Michaela DePrince will be dancing Swanilda, with DNB principal Daniel Camargo as her Franz.
Earlier this month we learned that former comp star and current UC Berkeley student Miko Fogarty will be giving a TEDx talk in March about her path from ballet to college. This news got us thinking about some of our favorite ballet TED talks from years past. Check out our top eight now!
Later this month, six dance companies from around the UK will come together to celebrate Sir Kenneth MacMillan's life and works with performances at Covent Garden. As the program highlight, members of five different troupes will perform in the British choreographer's ballet Elite Syncopations. The fanciful and colorful piece set to Scott Joplin's ragtime tunes reveals MacMillan's lighthearted side and delight in the unconventional. In this video, The Royal Ballet's former principal, Darcey Bussell, shows why Elite Syncopations is a favorite among audiences and dancers alike.
Bussell introduces the ballet, followed by clip of her performing a section called "The Bethena Waltz" (1:40) with Gary Avis. The music in this duet has a smooth, loopy quality that the dancers mimic with continuously circulating movement. As Bussell explains in the intro, subtle moments are key–like when Avis emerges from the "scenery" to grab her hand at the start of the duet, or at 3:35 when the dancers undulate through the upper body to resume dance position. These simple details playfully contrast the over the top costumes and wacky lifts. MacMillan also uses extreme extensions to create humor; at 4:12 the dancers are surprised to find Bussell's foot above her head, and when the dancers exit the stage Bussell is flipped over her partner's head in a full split. Of course, she does it all looking sophisticated and elegant, even in a shiny white jumpsuit with two stars printed on her bum. Happy #ThrowbackThursday!
Ah, the Olympic ceremonies: When athletes of the world parade with their flags into the international spotlight, when host countries pay tribute to their cultural heritages and when I (without fail) tear up at the beauty of it all. Ballet doesn't usually play into the Olympic mix as a sport, but the opening and closing ceremonies are a different story. Case in point(e): Sochi, Russia in 2014 and London in 2012.
If you thought kissing a Frog Prince was strange, you've clearly never heard the plot of The Prince of the Pagodas. In 1989, Sir Kenneth MacMillan restaged John Cranko's elaborate 1957 ballet, created to a commissioned score by Benjamin Britten. In this clip from a 1990 performance, The Royal Ballet's Darcey Bussell dances the role of Princess Rose, whose compassion and love for a salamander—yes, a salamander—saves her father's kingdom.
The ballet Sylvia has undergone many reincarnations since its 1876 premier by the Paris Opéra Ballet. Some of the past two centuries' most notable choreographers—Sir Frederick Ashton, George Balanchine, Mark Morris and John Neumeier—have seemed inescapably drawn to creating their own versions of this ballet, as if it was an artistic scratch they simply had to itch. In this 2005 clip, Darcey Bussell dances the title role in Ashton's revived version for The Royal Ballet.
It’s no surprise that in romantic ballets, love presides over each characters’ motivation. But not every story concludes with a joyous marriage. Marius Petipa’s La Bayadère, set in India, reveals the possible complexities once jealousy and betrayal destroy true love. This clip features Gamzatti’s variation from Act III, right before the gods take vengeance on those who have selfishly obtained romance. Former Royal Ballet principal dancer Darcey Bussell captures Gamzatti's character with calm sincerity, foreshadowing her solemn death.
It takes a true artist to deliver the gravity of La Bayadère. Bussell achieves this through her technique alone—moving her limbs as though dancing through water. She perfectly balances a ballerina’s lightness with the weight of fatigue. Most importantly, she proves that she can take on any task, no matter how grave. Bussell had only been a principal dancer for three years at the time of this video in 1991, and would continue to master new ballets and originate roles for Kenneth MacMillan, Twyla Tharp and Christopher Wheeldon before her retirement in 2007. Happy #ThrowbackThursday!
Click here to watch the clip.