Today I woke up, made myself a breakfast smoothie, and settled in for the daily dance event I was so looking forward to, the day long live stream of The Joffrey Ballet’s Swan Lake rehearsal with choreographer Christopher Wheeldon. Live streams are becoming a trend in the social sphere of connectivity; the vast PR campaigns to bring distant audience members and elusive dancers together through video. Now, I’ve seen three major ballet companies (Scottish Ballet, Royal Ballet, and now Joffrey Ballet) utilize this social media technique with positive results. And I wish more companies would and could follow suit. The inside look at rehearsals, classes, backstage, everything and anything with the dancers and choreographers, costumers, musicians, tech crew, should be shown to the public. These live streams are becoming vital additions to knock the notion of elitism in ballet. Even for more modern and contemporary companies, a live stream can be used to show the inner workings of the day that the entire company must face. It’s very real and very demanding, and the public should be made aware of this. So dance companies, now is the time to unveil and use the power of the Internet!
- The first stream I saw was with Scottish Ballet’s morning class in March 2011. They had produced two streams from rehearsals and backstage in the previous months but I couldn’t get away from work/school to see them fully. That is the tricky thing with these live streams. To get the point across with that direct LIVE element, you must have an audience that isn’t already weighed down during the scheduled time. This becomes hard because I’m guessing students are part of that target audience, but students go to classes and can’t catch the stream when it is live. Still, it is wonderful to have these videos available later. I rewatch the backstage stream of Scottish Ballet’s Sleeping Beauty production over and over. It’s thrilling to see these dancers thinking and processing what they are about to perform with the interviewer. I figure it could become a bit annoying to be interrupted during warm-ups, but still it is an interesting part of the ballet production to be a viewer of. Backstage is vibrant and wild, and the energy can’t be fully conveyed from a video, but it is one step closer for viewers to understand the entire world of ballet.
Scottish Ballet Backstage of Sleeping Beauty
- The second and most major addition to the live stream club came with the Royal Ballet’s full day live stream of classes and rehearsals. With this came Christopher Wheeldon and Wayne McGregor, which I feel had one of the main pull of viewers since they are extremely popular and prominent in the dance world. But that first morning class alone was enough to suck viewers in! The tenacity and vivacious attitudes of these dancers during a 10:30 am class was remarkable to witness. I for one have always felt quite turned off by morning classes; yet, here are these extremely dedicated professionals, ready to work! This is their career that they are entirely serious about. It was invigorating to be a part of that over live stream. The stream continues with many important Royal names and stars: dancers, choreographers, teachers, etc. To see these people in the flesh would terrify me, but to be a fly-on-the-wall of their working day is exciting and fun. I loved the camera work- still but engaging in the right areas of dance- and I enjoyed the interviews- not too dumbed down but easy for new-comers to grasp. I believe the Royal live stream is the one to aspire to. I can’t wait for another to come out, one day. And for major international ballet companies to join in.
Royal Ballet Daily Class
Royal Ballet Rehearsing Alice In Wonderland
- And lastly, The Joffrey Ballet. Their live stream has just wrapped up as I am typing this. A quick conversation with British choreographer Christopher Wheeldon and Artistic Director Ashley Wheater ended the stream, but it was certainly peppered with the most gruelling and lingering amount of rehearsal work. The entire day was devoted to rehearsing their first production of Swan Lake which premieres this October. Wheedon sets the story in 19th century Degas-esque Paris Opera Ballet style, which should be very interesting. The dancers must deconstruct minute details of the choreography with Wheedon and a team of coaches. No doubt it might become boring for some viewers; however, it might inspire others. It’s important to see what goes into a new production, a Swan Lake production at that! A lot of down time, scheduled breaks, and the endless stopping and going. One thing that was off in this live stream was the video production level. Shaky cam on top of shaky dancers, running around the studios chasing one another is not ideal for viewing over Youtube. I wish they could have had the same team from Royal Ballet’s live streams. This brings up the issue why some dance companies can not produce live streams. On top of the amount they must pay Youtube, or other websites that provide the live feed service, they must have a capable crew to film it. It can become just another costly endeavour for a company. Still, I am grateful for the chance to see these dancers I’ve never before seen in person in the place they are most comfortable in; their studio.
*The Joffrey Ballet live stream will be posted when it becomes available.