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World Ballet Day Is Today!

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.


In addition to the three host companies, the dizzying list of guest companies includes: Houston Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Ballet Concierto de Puerto Rico, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Acosta Danza, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal, Bayerisches Stattsballett, Dutch National Ballet, Paris Opéra Ballet, Polish National Ballet, Queensland Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet, English National Ballet, Northern Ballet, Matthew Bourne's New Adventures, Scottish Ballet, National Ballet of Japan, Norwegian National Ballet, Royal Swedish Ballet, Stuttgart Ballet, Royal Danish Ballet, Vienna State Ballet and West Australian Ballet (whew!).

And, bonus, viewers are also invited to participate: Upload a video or boomerang of yourself performing a pirouette in an interesting location on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #WorldBalletDay. According to its website, WBD is hoping to use the footage to create the "longest pirouette around the world."

You can see the full schedule and get updates by joining WBD's Facebook event. And if you miss your favorite company live (or simply don't feel like pulling an all-nighter), don't worry: you can always go back and watch a full replay on their Facebook page during normal daylight hours.

Ballet Stars

What do Diana Vishneva, Olga Smirnova, Kristina Shapran and Maria Khoreva all have in common? These women, among the most impressive talents to graduate from the Vaganova Ballet Academy in recent years, all studied under legendary professor Lyudmila Kovaleva. Kovaleva, a former dancer with the Kirov Ballet (now the Mariinsky), is beloved by her students and admired throughout the ballet world for her ability to pull individuality and artistry out of the dancers she trains. Like any great teacher, Kovaleva is remarkably generous with her wealth of knowledge; it seems perfect, then, that she appears as the Fairy of Generosity in this clip from a 1964 film of the Kirov's The Sleeping Beauty.

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Sponsored by BLOCH
Courtesy BLOCH

Today's ballet dancer needs a lot from a pointe shoe. "What I did 20 years ago is not what these dancers are doing now," says New York City Ballet shoe manager Linnette Roe. "They are expected to go harder, longer days. They are expected to go from sneakers, to pointe shoes, to character shoes, to barefoot and back to pointe shoes all in a day."

The team at BLOCH developed their line of Stretch Pointe shoes to address dancer's most common complaints about the fit and performance of their pointe shoes. "It's a scientific take on the pointe shoe," says Roe. Dancers are taking notice and Stretch Pointe shoes are now worn by stars like American Ballet Theatre principal Isabella Boylston, who stars in BLOCH's latest campaign for the shoes.

We dug into the details of Stretch Pointe's most game-changing features:

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Ballet Careers
Ali Cameron, Courtesy Queensland Ballet

An artistic director's position was far from Li Cunxin's mind when the Brisbane-based Queensland Ballet came calling in 2012. Since his retirement from the stage in 1999, the Chinese-Australian dancer had embarked on a highly successful career at the helm of a stockbroking firm. His wife, former dancer and current Queensland ballet mistress Mary McKendry Li, changed his mind, Li remembers. "She said, 'Wouldn't it be nice to give something back to the art form that we both have benefited so much from?' "

Seven years later, Li's contribution has been dramatic. Queensland Ballet, once a struggling choreographer-led company, has become one of Australia's most exciting repertoire ensembles, with Liam Scarlett on board as artistic associate. The budget has more than quadrupled, to over $20 million USD, and Li has launched not one but three major construction projects, with world-class headquarters, a theater and a new academy all in progress.

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News
Gene Schiavone, Courtesy Boston Ballet

Wonder what's going on in ballet this week? We've rounded up some highlights.

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