World, if you haven't already, meet Jay Ledford.

She's an incredibly gifted 18-year-old student at the Kirov Academy of Ballet with lines for dayyyyys. She's also transgender. And describing her as inspiring is a bit of an understatement.

Jay began transitioning relatively recently, and has been documenting her journey on Instagram. She's an active advocate for transgender youth, the kind of role model that so many young people—inside and outside of the dance world—need right now.


She's also just. so. beautiful. I mean:

Recently, in a post for New York City Ballet's "With Ballet" campaign, Jay talked about how ballet has helped her become her most authentic self:

"With ballet I am able to be who I am. I am able to express myself in ways that aren't possible through words. Being transgender I am able to not only express who I am through ballet but I am able to show others that you can do anything without giving up. Ballet is a way to get away from everything and just breathe. Dance is a breath of fresh air."

Keep living your truth, Jay. We're predicting great things for you—and the other trans trailblazers of the dance world.

The Conversation
Ballet Stars
Réjean Brandt Photography, Courtesy Royal Winnipeg Ballet

After growing up in Florida, how did you adjust to the climate when you moved to Winnipeg, Canada?

It was shocking. The winter is brutal! Now I know what to expect, but it's still a bit of a shock. I think the first day of snow was September 26th.

Do you have a go-to anecdote about company life?

Once we were on tour in Arkansas for Nutcracker. We got to the finale, and the music cut out. There was a womp-womp moment, the curtain came down, and we had to restart from the top of the coda. But the audience was excited they saw it twice—they felt like they got double their money!

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The Royal Ballet's Vadim Muntagirov and Marianela Nuñez in La Bayadère. Photo by Bill Cooper, Courtesy ROH.

Do you ever wish you could teleport to London and casually stroll into The Royal Opera House to see some of the world's best-loved ballets? Well, we have a solution for you: The Royal Ballet's 2018-19 cinema season.

Whether live or recorded, the seven ballet programs listed below, streaming now through next October, will deliver all of the magic that The Royal Ballet has to offer straight to your local movie theater. Can you smell the popcorn already?

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