Ballet Stars

World Ballet Day LIVE Returns October 5 with an All Day Livestream of Your Favorite Companies

World Ballet Day camera crew at The Australian Ballet. Photo by Kate Longley, Courtesy The Australian Ballet.

For some of us, every day feels like World Ballet Day LIVE. But the official event takes place on Thursday, October 5, with a free 22-hour live-stream relay showcasing The Australian Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet, The Royal Ballet, National Ballet of Canada and San Francisco Ballet. Each will welcome the world into company classes, rehearsals and behind-the-scenes extras.



Since 2014, WBD has become a global phenomenon—last year's broadcast reached 1.85 million viewers in 154 countries. It may seem unnerving to dance in front of the world, but "it's really fun," says SFB principal dancer Dores André. The camera crew navigates around the artists, and, André says, "I pretend they are not there."

Dancers like André, who is from Spain, love that friends and family can see what a day at the office looks like. "That's the beauty of WBD, to show not the final product but the daily work," she notes. And, she adds, "it's really interesting to see what a piece looks like on other dancers, and see what each company is good at."

WBD has grown so much that some companies have staff dedicated to the logistics. "There's a lot to consider, not just technically but also ensuring we provide content that is exciting," says Royal Ballet director Kevin O'Hare. "We have a small team in London who liaises with the other companies, and train dancers in live-presentation skills."


Royal Ballet dancers interacting with the camera crew. Photo Courtesy The Royal Opera House.

The effort is well worth it, according to SFB artistic administrator Caroline Giese, who reports that last year the company got 385,000 viewers—more than 120 times the capacity of its home theater. That audience may grow exponentially this year, as for the first time WBD will be broadcast over social media in China, potentially reaching an additional 500 million viewers. "We were humbled and thrilled," she says. "Dance needs to live beyond the stage, and WBD provides us with that platform."


The Australian Ballet dancers rehearsing "Swan Lake" during World Ballet Day 2016. Photo by Kate Longley, Courtesy The Australian Ballet.

More dancers than ever will participate too, with Les Ballets du Monte Carlo, Ballet West, Birmingham Royal Ballet, English National Ballet, Houston Ballet, National Ballet of China, Northern Ballet, National Ballet of Japan, Scottish Ballet, Singapore Dance Theatre invited to take part. So no matter what hour you tune in, expect "great access and a couple of surprises," O'Hare says. Get all the info at worldballetday.com.

The Conversation
Ballet Stars
Angela Sterling, Courtesy PNB

Your teacher at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Marcia Dale Weary, recently passed away. What impact did she have on you?

I feel deeply indebted to her. She shaped my life's course, and I know that were it not for her, I would not be living out my dream today. She led by example through her remarkable commitment to her work, as well as her genuine kindness and generosity.

You were a trainee with San Francisco Ballet. What was that experience like?

It was an exposure to different schools of thought. We were mostly in the full-lengths, and watching run-throughs of Sleeping Beauty and Don Quixote was revolutionary for me. But I was young and far away from home. That transition was hard. My body started changing. It wanted to be fleshy. Biology is cruel in that way. I desperately wanted to fit in, but it wasn't meant to be.

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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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Site Network
Left: Misa Kuranaga in The Veritginous Thrill of Exactitude. Gene Schiavone, Courtesy Boston Ballet. Right: Sasha Mukhamedov in Apollo. Altin Kaftira, Courtesy Dutch National Ballet.

San Francisco Ballet just announced some major news: longtime Boston Ballet star Misa Kuranaga will be joining the company as a principal dancer for the 2019-20 season, while Dutch National Ballet principal Sasha Mukhamedov has been hired as a soloist. They join a slew of newly promoted SFB principals and soloists, announced earlier this year.

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Ballet Stars
Xiao Nan Yu in company class. Aaron Vincent, Courtesy National Ballet of Canada.

On June 22, National Ballet of Canada principal Xiao Nan Yu will retire from the stage after 22 years with the company. Originally from Dalian, China, Yu studied at the Shen Yang School of Dance and the Beijing Dance Academy before coming to Canada's National Ballet School at age 17. She joined the National Ballet of Canada less than two years later, and was promoted to principal in 2001.

"She is a supreme dance actress with an innate ability to bring the audience into her world," says NBoC artistic director Karen Kain. "Nan has always brought such a calm confidence into the studio and has been a role model for so many dancers I will miss her generosity both inside the studio and out." We spoke with Yu as she prepared for her final week of performances. She opened up about her initial culture shock upon moving to Toronto, her thoughts on artistry and why she chose Hanna Glawari in The Merry Widow as her final role.

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