Live Blogging #RBLive

Join our fabulous guest blogger Wiebke Schuster (@wiebela on Twitter) as she live blogs #RBLive, a full working day at The Royal Ballet streamed live on The Royal Opera House YouTube channel and the Guardian website.

From 10 a.m. today Wiebke will be jotting down below her thoughts on the day’s activities – from the Company’s live rehearsals and interviews to the backstage films, so bookmark this page and keep hitting the refresh button throughout the day.

Do join the party via comment form here or by tweeting us @theballetbag and @wiebela.


10: 30 Hi there!

Ever wondered what it is like to go to work at the Royal Opera House – like it is no big deal – just everyday business? Well, today for the first time, it doesn’t matter if you’re in Covent Garden or not, if you couldn’t roll out of bed in time to snatch up a good spot in the day ticket queue at the box office: We’ll get to watch some of the best dancers in the world do their thing! Let’s extend and expand on the award season hype and enjoy seeing one of the world’s most famous ballet companies live through a regular day. Like it is no big deal.

11:01 They just finished at the barre. On to center work!

They all look all so regal and calm! It is totally clear that the barre work is each dancer’s “homebase”. Luckily, fun dance attire – polka dots, stripes and patterns -make each day of repetition unique! Like my teacher used to say: whatever it takes to make you feel good when you walk into class!

Can I just say: (ballet teacher) Olga is a one woman show. Her legs are phenomenal!

11:50 Class just wrapped up. Anyone else out of breath from watching?

Watch those lightening-like feet in petit allegro! Now everyone is really showcasing their mad skills: It is so lovely to see them soar, take the space in (a very grand) grand allegro and feed off each other’s energy.

Judith Mackrell (she can totally pull off that snake-skin pattern jacket!) interviewed Wayne McGregor whilst the class neared its end in the background.

Exactly Wayne – If “Black Swan” got people to muster up the courage to take a beginner’s ballet class, or get back to training, or just got them curious about seeing a live performance: that is a win for the art form, no?

On to Alice rehearsal!

P.S.: Doesn’t Mara have the cutest baby bump?!

The Company in Class

13:38 Alice in Wonderland rehearsal finished.

Frogs, bouncy tea treats and newly found tap talents: We’re watching the Mad Hatter scene in rehearsal – One of my favorites. I just cannot keep my feet still during this!

A bundle of debuts are coming up during this run: Beatriz Stix-Brunell and Nehemiah Kish (who wasn’t in this rehearsal) make their debuts tomorrow! It is also Alex Campbell’s first time as the Mad Hatter and he is looking phenomenal: I cannot believe he has never tapped before. What a natural!

Chris Wheeldon is so articulate with his corrections. And charming nonetheless, of course. I love how he calls Beatrix “B”.

Putting these taps into dance notation sounds like a major challenge, but Anna Treviet has got it all under control! I would love to see the end result on a page!

Credit to (the presenter) George who is really getting into the ballet lingo now!

13:10 Dame Monica in Conversation – 54 years at the Royal!

Reminiscing on Rudolf Nureyev still makes her blush… Major sympathy points in my book!

Marianela rehearses Prince of the Pagodas

Marianela Nuñez rehearses a solo from MacMillan's Prince of the Pagodas

13:50 It’s a wrap on the “Prince of the Pagodas” Rehearsal

Seeing the effort behind the intricate MacMillan choreography here is a really humbling experience and a great privilege to see. Breathtaking literally… The contrast between off-balance moments, followed by movements requiring complete control is really clear when watching Marianela Nuñez in rehearsal – as is the musical phrasing.

She is just the epitome of grace – what a smile too! Happy 30th birthday to her! Who wouldn’t want a giant cupcake as a surprise from their colleagues after a taxing rehearsal!

Marianela turns 30

Marianela Nuñez receives a Birthday cupcake

14:50 Polyphonia Rehearsal and Team Hawaii wins the “YouMove” challenge.

Motto of the Polyphonia Rehearsal with Chris Wheeldon: “Spin out, sister, spin out!”

For this piece, Chris wants the ensemble to be like pencil drawings: each position is clearly etched out in space like a sharpened pencil sketch on paper. This Ligeti score seems impossible to count, but the three principal couples are quick to smooth out any rough spots. Great to see that Leanne Benjamin is being really outspoken and proactive in rehearsal! What a good example for the younger dancers in the room, new Alice “B” whom we met earlier, and the reserve cast working in the background.

Earlier on in the week, the Royal Ballet challenged its YouTube fans to submit videos of grand jétés in spectacular location. Team Hawaii definitely ruled with a die-hard fan leaping off a cliff into the Pacific ocean! Seriously, who can beat that? A close second place went to a “herd” of bunheads, jété-ing through the countryside. Luckily, it is not hunting season, right?

In case you missed it, you can watch all entries here.

Nehemiah Kish and Leanne Benjamin rehearse Polyphonia

Nehemiah Kish and Leanne Benjamin rehearse Polyphonia

15:50 “Street Stories” straight from East London to Covent Garden:

Some serious creativity going on in that studio full of students! Wonderful to see the kids committing to the tasks, to performance and trusting one another! Those counterbalances and modern partnerwork deserve a hats-off!

What a great interviewer RB’s own Kristen McNally is too! Another natural discovered. This day continues to impress.

16:20 Romeo & Juliet Rehearsal – “Young love, passion and murder”

Stage combat 101. Lesson 1: Fencing. I always wished they offered that class at my school. It looks like the perfect opportunity to rid oneself of some underlying anger without completely losing composure. Pleasant side effects include looking rather classy in the process whilst a slight risk of losing limbs and scarring remains…

Gary Avis and Ed Watson demonstrated an intense Act II duel between Romeo and Tybalt to finish off rehearsal. Where movie stars hand over to their stunt doubles, ballet dancers just step it up – no problem.

17:20 Sweet Violets Rehearsal – “Not your usual night out at the ballet”

This new ballet by choreography prodigy Liam Scarlett looks promising. Full of theatricality! Thiago Soares and Leanne Cope make an extremely handsome couple in this intricate, tension-filled pas de deux.

Rehearsal of Liam Scarlett's Sweet Violets

Thiago Soares and Leanne Cope rehearse Liam Scarlett's Sweet Violets

18:18 We’re “in” on an Insight Evening with Wayne McGregor and Mark Ronson

Steven McRae and Sarah Lamb are the most electrifying couple. Superhuman dancing at its finest in a signature McGregor pas de deux – including outrageously loose limbs, serious coordination challenges and detail in the articulation of every joint, every inch of those amazing dancer bodies.

I could watch him at work all day long. His input is so visceral; he always stands close to the dancers, feeding them with exactly the quality, the energy and intent he is looking for. The physicality here is pushed to the absolute maximum (and beyond!).

Olivia Cowley’s lines are just endless and she is so fearlessly awkward in some parts of this dance, it’s fascinating to watch! Ed Watson’s energy tank and rock star qualities are simply unparalleled! He has been going all day!

Olivia Cowley and Edward Watson

Olivia Cowley and Edward Watson rehearse Wayne McGregor's Carbon Life

Even though Wayne’s training background is not in ballet, he makes an outstanding point:

The rigor of the discipline you practice can translate into any other area of work!

Wisdom of the day.

What a great note to end this day on. What a special day, an unprecedented look behind the scenes of a company full of versatile talents, of youth and experience, tradition and innovation in a “golden” balance. (Excuse the sports metaphor, but it is the Olympic year after all!)

Congratulations to the Royal Ballet on what seems like (judging by the buzz on the web) a huge success. Hope to see more of, or similar, formats in the future! I for one, have had a blast!

Thanks for reading!


Screenshots provided for educational purposes only.

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