Press Releases

September 30, 2014

San Francisco Ballet Opens its 'Virtual Doors' for a Behind-the-Scenes Global First: World Ballet Day

One Day of Live Streaming on Wednesday, October 1

sfballet.org/worldballetday

The Australian Ballet | Bolshoi Ballet | The Royal Ballet
The National Ballet of Canada | San Francisco Ballet

SAN FRANCISCO, CA, Wednesday, September 25, 2014–On Wednesday, October 1, the first-ever World Ballet Day will offer extraordinary and unprecedented access behind the scenes at five of the world’s leading ballet companies. Each company will start their day with class–the daily discipline for every dancer–then open their rehearsal studios for audiences to see what really goes on in the hours before the curtain goes up.

San Francisco Ballet’s four-hour broadcast will highlight the Company’s exceptionally diverse repertory with a broad range of works on view, including rehearsals of Yuri Possokhov’s critically acclaimed RAkU, which is featured on Program 1 of SF Ballet’s 2015 season. The Company will also rehearse William Forsythe’s The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude, an exhilarating display of classical technique, set to the music of Franz Schubert, for five dancers who seem to never stop moving. This classic work, with the women in green-disc tutus, will be featured on Program 3 of the season.

SF Ballet’s commitment to new work will be highlighted with a joint interview by Corps de Ballet Member and choreographer Myles Thatcher and renowned choreographer Alexei Ratmansky. This past May, Myles was named a protégé as part of the prestigious Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, with choreographer Alexei Ratmansky serving as his mentor. The goal of the year-long program is to ensure that the world’s artistic heritage is passed on from generation to generation, across continents and cultures. A frequent collaborator with SF Ballet, Ratmansky has choreographed two ballets for the Company, with four of his works in the repertory. Thatcher, who joined the Company in 2009 as an apprentice, will create a new work for the Company’s 2015 season, having already created one work for SF Ballet and two for the SF Ballet School. Other programming for the day will include scenes from Tomasson/Possokhov’s virtuosic Don Quixote which is featured on Program 5; and Helgi Tomasson’s Concerto Grosso, called “a work for the ages” by the San Francisco Chronicle, which will be performed at the Company’s 2015 Opening Night Gala.

The broadcast will be co-hosted by former SF Ballet School student and ABC-7 Feature Reporter Leyla Gulen and Ballet Master and Assistant to the Artistic Director Christopher Stowell.  Stowell, a former principal dancer with SF Ballet and former director of Oregon Ballet Theatre from 2003-2012, has worked as a choreographer, ballet master and teacher with companies worldwide. During this event, Gulen and Stowell will interview a variety of SF Ballet artists and artistic staff, including: Artistic Director & Principal Choreographer Helgi Tomasson, who celebrates his 30th anniversary with SF Ballet this season; Principal Dancers Taras Domitro, Maria Kochetkova, and Yuan Yuan Tan, who celebrates her 20th anniversary with the Company; Music Director and Principal Conductor Martin West; orchestra member and RAkU composer Shinji Eshima; and SF Ballet School Associate Director Patrick Armand, among others.

In addition, throughout SF Ballet’s streaming, audience members will have the opportunity to submit questions to SF Ballet dancers through Twitter, which the dancers will respond to during the broadcast.

Highlights from the other companies include The Australian Ballet rehearsing Graeme Murphy’s celebrated Swan Lake, which is one of the company’s most celebrated works. Other rehearsal pieces include Stanton Welch’s La Bayadère, Peter Wright’s The Nutcracker, as well as a rehearsal for the Company’s Fall for Dance world premiere piece Ostinato by resident choreographer Tim Harbour, which will be performed in New York City on their U.S. tour in October.  Renowned Artistic Director David McAllister will also be on hand to answer questions.

The streaming then moves to Russia where the Bolshoi will be rehearsing The Taming of the Shrew with choreography by Jean-Christophe Maillot which had its premiere in July. This will be followed by rehearsals for the upcoming opening of Yuri Grigorovich’s Legend of Love which returns to the Bolshoi stage for the first time since its renovations. Opening on Sunday, October 26, the performance will be screened live into cinemas around the world. 

The Royal Ballet then follows the Bolshoi in the live stream and viewers will have a rare insight as Carlos Acosta coaches Principal Vadim Muntagirov in the role of Basilio in Don Quixote. Principals Marianela Nunez and Federico Bonelli will rehearse Kenneth MacMillan’s Manon in preparation for the ROH Live Cinema screening being relayed around the world on Thursday, October 16.  Resident Choreographer Wayne McGregor will be interviewed about creating his first-full length work for the Company, Woolf Works, based on the writings and life of the seminal English author Virginia Woolf and Kevin O’Hare, director of The Royal Ballet, will talk about the company and the season ahead.

The variety of choreography on show during the four hours from The Royal Ballet clearly demonstrates the breadth of choreographic talent that has been, and remains, integral to its identity and which continues to attract and inspire some of the worlds’ greatest dancers.

The National Ballet of Canada follows London and also features a rehearsal of Kenneth MacMillan’s dramatic masterwork, Manon which opens the 2014/15 Season at Toronto’s Four Seasons Centre for Performing Arts on Saturday, November 8. Anthony Dowell, former director of The Royal Ballet, who is rehearsing the company, had the role of Des Grieux created on him 40 years ago by MacMillan. John Neumeier’s transformative work, Nijinsky, will also be in rehearsal in readiness for its opening in November, coached by Artist-in-Residence Rex Harrington and Senior Ballet Master Peter Ottmann.

The four-hour live stream will be hosted by Canadian TV personality Denise Donlon and will include an interview with Artistic Director Karen Kain, among others.  Viewers will also see into the company’s extensive wardrobe department, take a look at athletic therapy, and see the importance of dancer conditioning and cross training, as well as the preparation of pointe shoes, for a full sense of a dancer’s day at The National Ballet of Canada.

This unusual access will throw a spot light on the differences in style among the five companies as they follow a very similar routine, but approach choreography and performance in the ways that have made them each unique. World Ballet Day promises to be a celebration of dance, showcasing the athleticism and unparalleled dedication of all those involved in creating a world-class ballet company.

Throughout the day, viewers will be able to engage and interact with the artistic directors, dancers, choreographers, and coaches from each company. In addition, they will be able to ask questions via Twitter as well as having the opportunity to contribute by submitting a film of themselves doing a pirouette wherever they are in the world. These submission will be edited into a film celebrating the worldwide appeal of dance.

The day’s streaming will be repeated on YouTube in full so that viewers around the world can catch up on any parts of the day they missed. Edited highlights will then be made available for further viewing.

World Ballet Day is a development from Royal Ballet Live, a nine-hour live streaming via YouTube and The Guardian website in March 2012.  This unique event achieved 200,000 views of the live stream and repeat broadcast and a total of 2.5 million views of YouTube Royal Ballet Live material to date.  It is the first time that four of the five ballet companies are taking the cameras backstage live, to reveal the sweat and determination of these talented dancers.

The Australian Ballet
Founded in 1962, The Australian Ballet is one of the world’s leading performing arts companies delivering unique experiences that inspire and entertain. It has been the face of ballet in the Asia Pacific region for over 50 years. Each year it performs works from the classical repertoire as well as contemporary works by major Australian and international choreographers, and new commissions that explore the development and future of ballet.

Led by celebrated Artistic Director David McAllister AM, The Australian Ballet is one of the busiest ballet companies in the world, presenting approximately 200 performances in Australia, in addition to regular international touring to cities around the world.

Bolshoi Ballet
Bolshoi Ballet is the largest company in the world consisting of 220 dancers, most of who have graduated from the Moscow Academy of Classic Ballet–one of the oldest and most prominent ballet schools in Russia. The Bolshoi is renowned for its unique style which combines true virtuosity with incredible stage presence. It has an illustrious heritage with dancers such as Galina Ulanova, Vladimir Vassiliev and Maya Plisetskaya, Ekaterina Maximova and Nikolay Fadeechev, Natalia Bessmertnova, Maris Liepa, Liudmila Semeniaka, and Irek Mukhamedov playing a vital role in its history and position on the world stage.

In its 239th Season the Bolshoi, now under the leadership of Sergei Filin, will bring back on its historic stage Legend of Love with choreography by Yuri Grigorovitch as well as perform two world premieres, Hamlet with music by Shostakovich and choreography by Radu Poklitaru, and a new ballet based on the Lermontov novel Hero of our time choreographed by Yury Posokhov and directed by Kirill Serebrianikov, with a new score commissioned from Ilya Demutski.

The Royal Ballet
Based at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, The Royal Ballet is Great Britain’s most prestigious ballet company and one of the great classical ballet companies of the world.  Led by Director Kevin O’Hare, the Company has a wide-ranging repertory that showcases the great 19th century classics alongside heritage works including those of its two great 20th century choreographers Frederick Ashton and Kenneth MacMillan.

In addition, The Royal Ballet performs new works by Royal Ballet Resident Choreographer Wayne McGregor and Royal Ballet Artistic Associate Christopher Wheeldon, two of the foremost international choreographers of today. The Royal Ballet continues to create and encourage new choreography and appointed Liam Scarlett as Royal Ballet Artist in Residence in 2012.

The National Ballet of Canada
One of the top international ballet companies, The National Ballet of Canada was founded in 1951 by Celia Franca. A company of 70 dancers with its own orchestra, the National Ballet has been led by Artistic Director Karen Kain, one of the greatest ballerinas of her generation, since 2005. Renowned for its diverse repertoire, the company performs traditional full-length classics, embraces contemporary work and encourages the creation of new ballets. The National Ballet has toured in North America and internationally with recent appearances in London, England, Los Angeles, and New York City.

San Francisco Ballet
As America’s oldest professional ballet company, San Francisco Ballet has enjoyed a long and rich tradition of artistic “firsts” since its founding in 1933, including performing the first American productions of Swan Lake and Nutcracker, as well as the first 20th-century American Coppélia. San Francisco Ballet is one of the three largest ballet companies in the United States.

Under the direction of Helgi Tomasson, the Company has achieved an international reputation as one of the pre-eminent ballet companies in the world. In October 2013, the Company performed at New York’s David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center, where The New York Times declared SF Ballet “a national treasure.”2015 marks the 30th anniversary of Helgi Tomasson’s tenure as artistic director of San Francisco Ballet.

* * * *