Ballet Meets Pop

Photo: Joshua Martens ©

Last month Kanye West made the headlines in entertainment news for featuring ballet in his new epic music video/short film Runaway. In interviews West cited his love of classical dance as main motivation, while MTV has also pointed out the links between the video’s bird-like girl and Swan Lake. In a new guest post for Dance Pulp we look at other recent successful collaborations between pop and ballet:

One of our favorite topics is ballet’s potential for crossover with other art forms. Just as with fashion and photography, ballet also naturally lends itself to collaborations with pop music as a means to captivate new, younger audiences and break with conventions. One of the most successful “indie rock ballets” of all time, Wayne McGregor’s “Chroma”, is so closely associated with its score that it has been nicknamed the “White Stripes ballet”.

While Chroma is  to be staged for the first time at the National Ballet of Canada this November (followed by appearances at the San Francisco Ballet and at the Bolshoi in 2011), a whole new gamut of pop ballets have surfaced recently. An example is “Oh, Inverted World” a new work by Dance Pulp guest Trey McIntyre which premiered last month at Smuin Ballet: eight off-pointe sections match tracks by indie rockers The Shins (remember them from Natalie Portman’s iPod in Garden State?). Another is choreographer Justin Peck’s new piece, unveiled at NYCB’s Choreographic Institute 10th Anniversary, featuring music by perennially cool indie artist Sujfan Stevens.

Pop and ballet also collaborate in the other direction, with mainstream music artists using dance to emphasise the emotional punch of a song (best example: Gronemeyer’s famous collaboration with Polina Semionova) or just to add something extra; to set a particular mood to videoclips or album covers, like Rihanna walking en pointe in Umbrella (yes, a tad cliché) and the cover art for Kanye’s West recent single Runaway (slightly less so…).

Below we recap on our favorite collaborations between these two worlds (…)

Read the full post at Dance Pulp

We started The Ballet Bag in April 2009 with the mission to prove that ballet is not stuffy, old fashioned and inaccessible; that it is quite the opposite: relevant, fresh and topical. With the aim to Give Ballet a New Spin we try to show it under a different light. When writing our capsule biographies, ballet fact cards, review roundups and commentary on social media, we cross it over with other art forms and cultural references (pop culture, cinema, rock music – ie. other things we love!).


  • October 26, 2011


    And there’s this. Oval.

  • [...] in Peril: a Conversation With Jennifer Homans + Thrills, Chills and Spills: Black Swan Review + Ballet Meets Pop (guest blog for Dance Pulp) [...]

  • November 17, 2010


    Thanks for these! Some I had no idea even existed.

  • November 13, 2010


    I only found the video by accident while watching the ultra-sexy “Kool Thing” video. Yes. I think it is fantastic what they did with the high speed film of the ballerinas and the erratic light flashes. I wish that they would have had more of that in the video.

  • November 11, 2010


    Wow! I can’t believe we missed that, how could we! Sonic Youth is one of our favorite bands!!! Love how they use fast motion so that the ballerinas almost look like automatons, many thanks for posting this David.

  • November 11, 2010


    Oh. And Macaulay Culkin who is also in that Sunday video by Sonic Youth? Macaulay was in the Nutcracker in one of the leading boys roles. I bought a Nutcracker book with lots of big pictures and he is in it.

  • November 11, 2010


    My personal favorite collaboration between rock music video and ballet for the sound Sunday by Sonic Youth. The ballerinas are sprinkled throughout the video starting at 1 minute. See for yourself.

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