We live in a fast paced world where everything changes quickly and attention spans are growing shorter and shorter. It's a world in which most people would prefer to watch 2 minute performances on YouTube, rather than sit in a theater for a full length ballet. In 2010, Jennifer Homans, a former professional ballet dancer wrote a book entitled, Apollo's Angels, which traces four centuries of ballet from it's origins in 16th century France to the post Cold War era. In her book she concludes that "ballet is dying." Let that sink in for a moment, "ballet is dying."
I was never a dancer, but I am a lover of the arts. An art form, such as ballet, that has been captivating audiences for four centuries can not die. Balanchine said that ballet is "an absolutely independent art, not merely a secondary accompanying one. The important thing in ballet is the movement itself, as it is sound which is important in a symphony." As ballet moves into the modern age, there is an exciting energy with young choreographers, such as Justin Peck, setting the stage and honoring classical ballet while also giving it a new voice. Ballet is alive.
Last winter when I took my little dancer to see "The Nutcracker" performed by the acclaimed Joffrey Ballet in Chicago, her eyes were opened to a whole new world of dance, ballet. Even though she had been taking ballet classes since she was five, she had yet to be touched by the full range and breadth of a ballet. Consequently it was the last performance of "The Nutcracker" premiered by Robert Joffrey 28 years ago. This year the Joffrey Ballet will perform Christopher Wheeldon's new Nutcracker. Dying? Or just evolving?
And perhaps still sleeping, waiting to be awakened by a new generation. A new audience is being born who will yearn for that art. The pendulum always swings back. It's a new generation with a love for ballet that exists so deep in the soul that it becomes an expression that reaches right into the souls of all who watch. Yes...that love and that expression can exist and communicate within the discipline of classical ballet. That's what I see when I watch her dance. Ah, the love of ballet...
Yes, sleeping! As she says to me while tying the ribbons of her very first pointe shoes, "mom, is this a dream?" Yes...sweet baby girl, it is a dream. It is the dream that is within you. You are still young, keep dreaming. Don't ever stop dreaming!
"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams."
Yes, ballet is alive and well!