BY STAV ZIV
On Friday, March 23rd, the Royal Ballet broadcast a full day of footage live from the studios, stages, and labyrinth of back hallways of the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. The venture dove behind the scenes of one of the world’s leading companies to give viewers a taste of what a day in the ballet is really like. From 10:30am class through hours of rehearsal, audiences across the globe were able to tune in to the live stream (on YouTube and guardian.co.uk) and accompany the performers on their daily routine. Dancers, choreographers, and company management were pulled aside to speak about the company with the day’s host and answer questions that had been tweeted in by online viewers.
The symbol of a developing national tradition, the Royal Ballet was founded in 1931 and given a royal charter in 1956. Now, in 2012, it expands its reach beyond the confines of Covent Garden to the more easily accessible venue of the web. Though even the full screen function on an obnoxiously large monitor cannot replace the immediacy and wonder of a live performance, the online streaming experiment makes the ballet that much more available—deepening the experience for those lucky enough to have found themselves in the Royal Opera House and introducing a new one for those whose geographic or financial situation prevents it.
A set of videos from Royal Ballet Live is available on The Guardian’s website. See below for links and brief descriptions.
Highlights Part One takes viewers us through morning company class onstage, through a rehearsal of the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party scene from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland with choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, and an interview with Director of the Royal Ballet and former dancer Monica Mason.
Highlights Part Two dives right into rehearsal of Kenneth MacMillan’s Prince of Pagadas with principal dancer Marianela Nuñez, who celebrates her 30th birthday, followed by an interview with the Argentinian native, rehearsal for another Wheeldon ballet, Polyphonia, a worldwide grand jeté video contest, and a rehearsal of the Romeo-Tybalt sword fight from MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet.
A Day in the Life of a Dancer follows Yuhui Choe on a twelve-plus hour day packed with class and rehearsals. Notice the names of the studios: de Valois, founder of the Royal Ballet; Fonteyn, the first star of the Royal Ballet, who among other things dazzled audiences with Rudolf Nureyev after his defection from the Soviet Union; and Ashton, one of the first homegrown British choreographers whose name is synonymous with the early years of the company.
The Nutcracker in Rehearsal shows company dancers rehearsing the “Chinese tea” section from Act II of the Royal Ballet’s Nutcracker, staged by Peter Wright after Lev Ivanov.
The Wayne McGregor video weaves together rehearsal footage and an interview with McGregor and the composer with whom he collaborated for a new piece, Carbon Life. A fascinating window to the joint creative process.
Finally, watch Wayne McGregor’s Chroma, a ballet set to music by the White Stripes and Joby Talbot.
Stav Ziv (’11, History / minor in Dance) is the Executive Editor for the Stanford Arts Review and the Arts in Student Life Coordinator at the Stanford Institute for Creativity and the Arts (SiCa). A bunhead at heart, her writing can be found in Dance Magazine, Voice of Dance, the Stanford Daily’s Intermission, and Stanford Lively Arts Magazine.