Ballet Meets Pop
Editor’s note: The following guest post is by The Ballet Bag (@theballetbag), an online resource for the best of ballet around the web. In their previous guest post, they gave us their take on dance and social media.
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:
Lady Gaga and the Bolshoi
Lady Gaga and dancers from the Bolshoi Ballet featured in a gala piece created by performance artist Francesco Vezzoli for the Museum of Contemporary Art in LA. The full work – “Ballets Russes Italian Style (The Shortest Musical You Will Never See Again)” – was performed at MOCA one year ago where Gaga also released her single Speechless. Some snippets made their way onto YouTube:
MGMT Video for It’s Working
A ballet dancer descends from the skies and stands en pointe atop a rock star’s shoulders. Ballet is quoted en passant but in a fun, fresh way; we like it much better than the cheesy ballerinas in the videoclip of “Better Than Love” by synthpop duo Hurts.
The White Stripes and Chroma
British composer Joby Talbot orchestrated several White Stripes songs (including “The Hardest Button to Button”, “Blue Orchid” and “Aluminum”), providing an energetic, screeching backdrop to McGregor’s edgy choreography:
Scissor Sisters – Nightwork
Released a few months before Kanye West also used ballet as album artwork, this risqué cover features a shot of the buttocks of deceased dancer Peter Reed, taken by famous photographer Robert Mapplethorpe.
Alessandra Ferri and Sting
Alessandra’s husband Fabrizio Ferri is a renowned fashion photographer, architect, clothes designer and musician who happens to be friends with Sting. He produced in 2008 a short film of Alessandra dancing to choreography by Heinz Spoerli, while Sting played a guitar transposition of the Prelude from Bach’s Cello Suite No 1 in G major. The video went viral on YT where it has gathered millions of views:
Leave a reply below and tell us: what is your dream pop & ballet collaboration?