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Is this the end of live arts?

by David King

This is not about the politics, or vaccination policies, this post is just my personal thoughts…

Recently the Metropolitan Opera announced they will require proof of vaccine boosters to enter the world’s largest opera house… (click here for full article) Major shows, institutions, and opera have also withdrawn holding live performances this month… The world of art is shifting to NFTs… and dance is changing rapidly…

Ten years ago, there was a system to ballet, a flawed, racist, misogynistic system that still survives and thrives today, but there was a system. Within this system, dancers were limited, were held back by directors, and overlooked… This system created a formal process of hardworking, diligence, and rankings. But with social media, transparency, and people coming forward and sharing their experiences… this world, this system is disappearing…

Now, in today’s world of social media, celebrity power has created an entirely new version of ballet. This new process, this new system, has created an out of control generation oozing with talent. No one can deny that most of the young student dancers celebrated on social media can probably technically out-dance most professionals. Whether or not they can hold a full story ballet artistically, different question… HOWEVER…

We can clearly now see the trend that is happening all over the world- THE GALA DANCER and THE SOCIAL MEDIA SUPER STAR… It is not a secret, that the power of social media and ballet are now connected. Marketing teams are no longer needed, because a simple social media post can sell more tickets than a multi-thousand dollar campaign. Dancers, probably in the first time in history, now have more control of their career, have more say, and are more popular than the company themselves.

When we think of New York City Ballet, we associate it with Tiler Peck.

When we think of American Ballet Theatre, we associate it with James Whiteside, Isabella Boylston, Misty Copeland, and Aran Bell…

Maria Khoreva has single-handedly redefined the Mariinsky in the west.

Natalia Osipova has taken it onestep further to create the first ever dance NFT… it sold for $59,424 (British pounds). Article here.

With everything constantly evolving at a rapid rate, more and more young dancers have taken to the world of social media. Through competitive wins, through ridiculously planned reels, and content that shows off flexibility, turns, and insane jumps… Ballet schools around the world are adapting…

But where do these kids go?

No one wants to spend their best years in the corps de ballet, hoping to be promoted because a director likes them…

You can’t argue pirouettes, if the dancer can turn… they can turn… and social media has proven… turns sell.

You can’t argue leg up… if adage is your jam, the world of social media… and the entire internet goes crazy.

You can’t deny it… Even I am struggling to keep up with the demand and evolution of dance. Between training, dance politics, running this business, I am having hard time seeing the future of ballet… something I used to be very good at. Between the pandemic, social media, and the online universe… even I have struggled to keep up.

Its is now more impressive to see an exciting reel that is 30 seconds than sitting through an entire 3 hour ballet.

It is more comfortable to sit at home and stream a performance with your family or friends with food and wine, and the ability to pause, talk, view a performance at your own pace via digital streaming.

It is more convenient to watch a ballet whenever you want than a 7:00 show downtown.

It is more affordable to watch ballet on instagram and social media platforms for free, rather than pay over $100 dollars a ticket.

The world is changing…

Will ballet keep up?

(photo: metropolitan opera called met at lincoln center in manhattan – new york / usa – december 4, 2018 / ADOBE STOCK)

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