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  • Writer's pictureYumi La Blanca

World Ballet Day before the second lockdown

It was only a few weeks before World Ballet Day 2020 that the British government was heavily criticised for their controversial campaign indicating that ballet dancers need to ‘rethink, reskill, reboot’ their career. I wonder if those who shared this biased view tried to watch any of the clips of World Ballet Day on 29th October...

World Ballet Day 2020

World Ballet Day was launched in 2014 to annually celebrate the art of ballet, involving renowned ballet companies and schools around the world. This year the event was showcased online on 29th October with The Royal Ballet, The Australian Ballet, The Bolshoi Ballet as the main hosts. Rather than showing staged performances, they feature the company classes, rehearsals, behind the scenes etc., so that viewers can peep at the ‘real’ sides of the ballet world.

In the previous years we could enjoy watching live classes held in the studios, having fun spotting well-known dancers in the class setting. This year, The Royal Ballet pre-recorded the class in the main stage of Royal Opera House instead of a secluded studio. Though not all the company’s dancers could be there, they were wearing face masks during the class and some of them even helped clean the barres. I managed to spot some of my favourite dancers, but it wasn’t easy with their faces half-covered. It must be hard dancing with and breathing through the masks especially when they have to execute physically demanding moves.

Witnessing how much those dancers have to work daily and how sincerely they pursue artistry, humanity, expressions and techniques of ballet even at the difficult times, you’d genuinely be in awe of their dedication. They’re also the ‘selected’ ones for their talent and potential - not everybody can step in this special career, especially at leading companies. Even if they might need to retrain at some point in their lives, their ballet dancing career should be fulfilled and respected as is, since this isn’t promised to everyone and also inevitably short-lived mainly due to ages or injuries.

Facing the second lockdown

When the hospitality sector was forced to close during the first lockdown, I was actually more worried about the status of ballet dancers than flamenco artists. Flamenco as an art form isn’t restricted to theatres or commercial venues, as it’s traditionally been a way of life or culture which is preserved and developed by both professionals and non-professionals.

Ballet, on the other hand, is strongly related to theatres and requires physically more demanding, full-time, academic training for many years in order to provide performances. Ballet as an art form can’t exist without the hard work of those dancers who give us inspiration and uplifting energy. If they lose the opportunity of proper training and performances, ballet as culture would be in danger.

Most of the established ballet pieces require a huge space, theatrical settings and close contacts between dancers, which is difficult under the current situation. While theatres can’t still open fully and will have to go through the second lockdown, we can’t let this beautiful legacy fade away - ballet should be re-discovered as an important art form and a part of our culture to cultivate artistry and humanity.

Downing Street joins criticism of 'crass' job ad

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#WorldBalletDay 2020 trailer - join us on 29 October


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