Dance performances

Streaming Dance Performances Take Over January

Film crew records the rehearsal of The Nutcracker by the Czech National Ballet amid the coronavirus pandemic on December 21, 2020 in Prague, Czech Republic.Gabriel Kuchta/Getty Images

If there’s a silver lining to the closure of venues, it’s the digital spring it has brought to the dance world. While we look forward to the day when live performances are possible again, in the meantime, fans will be able to stream a wealth of ballet and dance from home and abroad this winter.

Throughout the month of January, the National Ballet of Canada offers a feast of ballet from the repertoire. You won’t see an entire performance here, just snippets, but the programs are streamed for free on YouTube and cover some of the greatest, both modern and classic.

Modern masterpieces, available from January 7, features the National Ballet in Alexei Ratmansky Piano Concerto #1 of his sublime Shostakovich Trilogy, alongside cheeky Jiri Kylian Little death and Wayne McGregor’s Breaking the Boundaries Chroma. For narrative drama, John Cranko’s Onegin is a favourite, and of later ballets, Anna Karenina by John Neumeier and Winter’s Tale by Christopher Wheeldon, can be seen from January 14 as part of the Power and Passion: Great Drama collection. The month ends with a tribute to Neumeier, whose ballets have shaped the company considerably in recent years, with excerpts from Nijinsky, A Streetcar Named Desire and The Seagull. Both series are available for 30 days.

The company has also commissioned new works for its Expansive dances programme, including that of Guillaume Côté Lulu, winner of the best international short film at the Milan International Film Festival 2020. In February, the company releases its Spotlight Series, featuring digital premieres by Jera Wolfe, Alysa Pires and Kevin Ormsby, plus the film version by Robert Binet The dreamers never leave you, based on the blue-hued landscapes of Canadian painter Lawren Harris, previously executed at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

The Paris Opera has created its own streaming service, opera at home, and offers several of its most famous operas and ballets for hire. The “Freudian” version of Rudolf Nureyev’s avian classic is currently streaming Swan Lake, a 2015 recording of Manon with Roberto Bolle and Aurélie Dupont (she retired after this performance to become artistic director of the Paris Opera Ballet), and a rarely performed masterpiece by John Neumeier, Gustav Mahler’s Third Symphony. The public can also see Crystal Pite The cannon of the seasons on a mixed program with works by Hofesh Shechter, Ivan Perez and James Thierrée.

The pandemic could have derailed Emily Molnar’s first season as artistic director of Nederlands Dans Theater in 2020, however, the former Ballet BC star successfully oversaw the company’s digital transformation, with NDT broadcasting a number of its programs live. The company regularly programs some of Europe’s most exciting choreographers, and its upcoming program Shadow Whispers February is no different, with world premieres by Hofesh Shechter and Imre van Opstal & Marne van Opstal. Keep an eye on the company’s website for live stream dates and times.

Brexit notwithstanding, UK performances are more accessible than ever with streaming services such as Ballet on demand of the English National Ballet. The public can rent one of the most popular new ballets of recent years, that of Akram Khan Gisele, plus new shorts featuring ENB dancers, and the Bournonville classic The sylph featuring the National Ballet of Canada’s principal, Jurgita Dronina, as the mischievous sylph.

Also worth mentioning is Television under marquee, a streaming service dedicated to the arts which offers a wide selection of complete ballets, mainly from British companies, elsewhere in Europe and Russia. Fans of Frederick Ashton’s ballets can discover the Royal Ballet in Rhapsody, The two pigeons and The dream, the British choreographer’s one-act version of Shakespeare’s comedy, Dream of a summer night. However, where Marquee TV really shines is in the repertoire of the Bolshoi Ballet of Moscow and the Mariinsky Ballet of St. Petersburg. Audiences can watch in awe as the supernatural Svetlana Zakharova embody the roles of White and Black Swan in the Bolshoi Swan Lake, and cheering on superstars Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev in The Flames of Paris, a groundbreaking firecracker of a ballet, recorded in 2010. For something a little different and, dare we say, political, try Alexei Ratmansky’s 2007 recreation of the Soviet-era ballet, Bolt. Set to music by Shostakovich, Bolt is about a factory malcontent who drives a bolt into Soviet machinery, and is advertised as “great fun for communists and capitalists”.

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