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Published November 4th 2014

Tracking The Buzz Around World Ballet Day

Because of social media, we’re able to actively participate in events taking place worldwide. But what does that mean for a medium that is most often viewed in person?

Today the whole world is at our fingertips. Facebook tells me what my friends in London did this morning, Instagram lets me know what my cousin in San Francisco had for dinner last night, and Twitter lets me know how a celebrity in Tokyo feels about the weather. 

Because of social media, we’re able to actively participate in conversations or activities that are taking place anywhere across the globe.

But what does that mean for a medium that is most often viewed, or engaged with, in person?

Ballet, for example, is traditionally a performance art that is viewed live in the theater.

But the times they are changing.

Ballet is… #trending.

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 11.00.37 AMIn the last week alone, ballet has been mentioned over 41,000 times on social media sites.

So how is this transition from the theater to the internet happening?

In what ways are people engaging with social media to talk about ballet?

Of particular interest are two recent events that have brought some extra online attention to ballet: World Ballet Day and Wendy Whelan’s retirement.

World Ballet Day

World Ballet Day was a collaboration between the Australian Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet, the National Ballet of Canada and San Francisco Ballet – five of the best ballet companies in the world.

On October 1st of this year, anyone with access to the internet was able to watch a 20-hour live stream hosted on Youtube, which showed a behind-the-scenes look at each of these companies.

Viewers followed company members through a day of ballet class and rehearsals, and were also given the opportunity to ask questions to the choreographers and directors through social media.

The hope is that this will become an annual tradition, making ballet more accessible to audiences across the world.

World Ballet day had an extremely successful inaugural year, and generated a lot of online buzz. In the week surrounding the event (Sept. 27 – Oct. 04), ‘World Ballet Day’ was mentioned nearly 5000 times in social media.

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 10.54.59 AM

Wendy Whelan’s Retirement

Wendy Whelan is a world-renowned prima ballerina, who recently (Oct. 18) retired from New York City Ballet after 30 years with the company.

Although no formal online event was created to celebrate the occasion, Ms. Whelan’s popularity led to a flutter of online conversations amongst her fans and in the news.

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 11.05.16 AM

On October 5th, the New York Times tweeted an article about Whelan’s farewell performance that was widely retweeted. On October 14th, the Washington Times posted an article about her career that was then quickly reposted by many online news sites.

On October 17th (the day before Whelan’s final performance) there was an explosion of activity on Twitter by individual fans lamenting her retirement. Finally, on October 19th, there was another article tweeted by the New York Times and mentioned in 300 tweets in total over the course of the day.

It’s clear that social media is becoming an important part of the way that we engage with ballet.

Personally, I’m very excited to see this change taking place. Not only is this an important step in allowing younger and more global audiences to access ballet, but it has also given new life to an art from that has been around since the 15th century.

Who would’ve thought that Twitter would have such a big impact on something like ballet?

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