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Australian Ballet in rehearsal during World Ball Day. Photo by Kate Longely, Courtesy Australian Ballet.

For the last few years, World Ballet Day has transfixed millions of ballet lovers with its hours and hours of live-streamed classes, rehearsals and behind-the-scenes extras from major companies around the globe. (We here at Pointe certainly don't get any work done!) And the 2018 edition is finally here! Hosted by Australian Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet and The Royal Ballet, streaming begins on WBD's Facebook page in Melbourne on October 2. However, for folks in North America, that means 9pm EST/6pm PST on Monday, October 1. In past years, the National Ballet of Canada and San Francisco Ballet helped host the event, but they are not participating this time. Other U.S. and Canadian companies, however, will get time in the limelight this morning and this afternoon--check out the full schedule here.

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Photo via Instagram.

When you spend as much time on the road as The Royal Ballet's Steven McRae, getting access to a proper gym can be a hassle. To stay fit, the Australian-born principal turns to calisthenics—the old-school art of developing aerobic ability and strength with little to no equipment.

"It's basically just using your own body weight," McRae explains. "In terms of partnering, I'm not going to dance with a ballerina who is bigger than me, so if I can sustain my own body weight, then in my head I should be fine."

Today, McRae shares videos of his workouts on social media (where he has approximately 150,000 Instagram followers). They are often shot in his dressing room, with a chair as the only prop while he does développés from an arched handstand, for instance—a feat of upper-body strength and flexibility.

"I think people are genuinely intrigued and interested in what we do: I get lovely comments offering suggestions to alter the exercise."

Keep reading at dancemagazine.com.

Ballet Careers
Members of San Francisco Ballet in company class as part of World Ballet Day LIVE 2017. Photo by Erik Tomasson via San Francisco Ballet on Instagram.

Last Thursday was World Ballet Day LIVE, the official 22-hour live-stream relay showcasing companies across the globe. If you were busy (we know that you don't always have the luxury to spend an entire day watching ballet), don't fret. Many of the companies involved recorded their classes, rehearsals and interviews from the day of, and we rounded them up for you to watch at your leisure. Careful, though; there are more than twenty hours of footage included here... make sure you take a break to, you know, sleep.


First up is San Francisco Ballet with a full five hours, including rehearsal for Balanchine's timeless classic, Serenade.


The Royal Ballet's WBD stream is split into three parts. Here's the first chunk, featuring company rehearsals of a few Sir Kenneth MacMillan ballets as well as Christopher Wheeldon's Alice in Wonderland (a measly two hours and 45 minutes). You can find part 2 here and the full company class here. The video also features a quick aerial tour of London from the balcony of the Royal Opera House.

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Ballet Stars
Photo by Andrej Uspenski, Courtesy ROH.

Wearing leggings and a puffy vest as she works in one of The Royal Ballet's light-filled studios, Charlotte Edmonds could pass for a corps de ballet member. Instead, she is choreographing on them, creating dynamic, ballet-based contemporary dance in her role as the company's first-ever Young Choreographer.

"At the Opera House you have dancers who have 20 years more experience," she says. "I bow to their experience, but I also try to hold the room. It is sometimes quite nerve-racking! But it is always exciting."

Edmonds' uncanny instincts for choreography and leadership were already apparent at age 11, when she was a first-year student in the Royal Ballet School's Lower School—and a finalist in its competition for the Ninette de Valois Junior Choreographic Award. She got her first professional commission at age 16, and was barely 19 when Royal Ballet director Kevin O'Hare named her the inaugural recipient of the company's Young Choreographer Programme. The paid position provides her with studio space, access
to dancers and the mentorship of renowned choreographer Wayne McGregor.


Photo by Alice Pennefeather, Courtesy ROH

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Zenaida Yanowsky and Roberto Bolle in Sir Frederick Ashton's "Marguerite and Armand." Photography by Tristram Kento, Courtesy ROH.

If you, like many of us here at Pointe, wish you could have seen Royal Ballet star Zenaida Yanowsky's retirement performance on June 7, you're in luck. The Royal will screen a recording of it in select movie theaters across the U.S. starting Sunday, June 25. (In many cities, it will be screened on Tuesday, July 11.) The program includes three works by the company's founding choreographer, Sir Frederick Ashton: The Dream, Symphonic Variations and Marguerite and Armand—the latter of which stars Yanowsky and Roberto Bolle. You can also catch other Royal favorites like Marianela Nuñez, Vadim Muntagirov, Steven McRae, Akane Takada and Yasmin Naghdi. Make sure to bring tissues!

To find dates, times and theaters near you, click here.


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We're seeing a lot of Crystal Pite in the ballet world this season—and no one is complaining. Only a few months after debuting a work for the Paris Opéra Ballet, her first creation for The Royal Ballet premiered last night, alongside work by Christopher Wheeldon and David Dawson.

According to The Guardian, the last time a woman choreographed a ballet for the main stage at the Opera House was 18 years ago, and it sounds like this piece pushed limits in other ways too, with its dark and very timely subject matter.

Called Flight Pattern, it features 36 dancers and is set to Henryk Górecki’s Symphony of Sorrowful Songs. It takes on the experience of refugees during the current migrant crisis, exploring the pain of displacement and loss.

In our December/January issue, Pite talked about her love of working with classical dancers. But what is it like on the other side of the creation process? In the video above, which was originally livestreamed back in February, Pite and some of the Royal Ballet dancers open up about their experience in the studio. You can also watch Pite coaching them through one section of the piece (this starts about 30 minutes in).

Flight Pattern runs through March 24 at the Royal Opera House.

 

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

Ballet Stars
Francesca Hayward photographed by Nathan Sayers for Pointe.

This is Pointe's February/March 2016 Cover Story. You can subscribe to the magazine here, or click here to purchase this issue.

Last September, as one of The Royal Ballet's coaches walked her through the potion scene from Romeo and Juliet, Francesca Hayward wasted no time marking the steps. Instead of lingering on individual poses, she was instantly focused on the web of emotions behind the choreography. Sitting on Juliet's bed, she seemed to contemplate the events that had just unfolded as Prokofiev's music swelled up, projecting despite her tiny stature; after pretending to drink the poison, she reached for her neck, her eyes filled with fear and disgust.

When The Royal Ballet first soloist made her debut in Sir Kenneth MacMillan's iconic ballet the next month, British critic Luke Jennings tweeted: “Francesca Hayward dances Juliet and British ballet is remade." At 23, the Kenya-born dancer is the leading light of a rising UK-trained generation nurtured by director Kevin O'Hare. She is also a rare mixed-race ballerina on the path to stardom, but neither she nor UK audiences have paid that fact much heed. Instead, Hayward has become known for embodying quintessential Royal Ballet qualities: fleet-footed articulation, sparkling musicality and strikingly natural acting.

Born near Nairobi to a Kenyan mother and British father, Hayward left Africa when she was 2. She was raised by her paternal grandparents in Sussex, not far from London. When they bought her ballet videos, she was instantly hooked; she vividly recalls mimicking Alessandra Ferri's own potion scene as Juliet in her living room. “I was fallen on the floor and doing all the dramatic bits. My grandpa looked into the living room and thought I was really ill."

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(Eloise Smith, stockroom assistant in the costume department at the Royal Opera House, photo by Ruairi Watson)


The Royal Opera House, home of The Royal Ballet, has launched a new university degree program in partnership with South Essex College and the University of the Arts in London. In order to address a dearth of costume makers in the performing arts industry, these three institutions will offer a joint degree that provides students with the opportunity to study costume construction. 

The three-year program will teach students the skills they need to work everywhere from television to a ballet company. The courses concentrate on costume construction rather than design, in order to produce professionals who are highly skilled makers in their own right. 

The ROH has a remarkable collection of costumes, historic costumes and wigs, which will be used as teaching objects for students. Congratulations to the ROH and its partners for addressing a major gap in the creation of theater magic. After all, behind every ballerina and her tutu there's a dedicated costume designer, and ballet lovers everywhere are indebted to their hard work.

 

For more news on all things ballet, don't miss a single issue: pointemagazine.com/digital.

Getting a peek inside a major company’s technique class is always a treat. While seeing dancers perform onstage is magical, there’s something captivating about watching a ballerina’s unmade-up face fully concentrated on learning a combination or pushing for another pirouette.

 

The Telegraph recently went inside the Bolshoi's company class with ballerina Ekaterina Krysanova, who talks about the company’s performances of Swan Lake at the Royal Opera House in London, which run through August 17. Check it out:

 

 

 

Want more? Here's another video, this one of the Bolshoi in a Swan Lake rehearsal.

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