World Ballet Day: go behind the scenes, around the world

Dancers perform during a dress rehearsal for The Australian Ballet's 'Vitesse'. Source: AAP

October 4 is World Ballet Day, when fans can watch the best dancers in the world perform for free for 20 hours.

It's set to break the record for the longest Facebook Live broadcast ever - and bring ballet companies from around the world to your screen for free.

World Ballet Day will see five ballet companies participate in an international dance marathon, broadcast live online for 20 hours.

It's a chance for dance fans to go behind the scenes, and also opens up the prestigious art to new audiences who may not be able to afford show tickets.

"Ballet is a really living art-form," Australian Ballet's Artistic Director David McAllister told SBS.

"Whether it is dancing the great classic repertoire or creating new works, the dancers are constantly interpreting the choreography and developing their performances so that each time the curtain lifts it is a brand new performance.

The ballet technique is also constantly developing and refining. You only have to look at footage from 20 or 30 years ago to see how the dancers have transformed and developed both physically and artistically to reflect the world they live in."

Enter the likes of Misty Copeland - the first African-American female principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre. She's grabbed headlines around the world for her style and physique, and even had a Barbie doll made in her likeness.

Wolrd Ballet Day allows audiences to see how "each company has their own unique ‘style’ of dancing that reflects the culture and physicality of each individual company", McCallister said.

"While we share the technique, the way we all dance is quite different and distinctive.

"Our dancers are physically strong and have a broad optimistic quality to their dancing. Just the fact that there are Australian dancers having really successful careers all over the world shows the breadth of talent that we nurture and develop into wonderful dancers for both The Australian Ballet and the rest world."

The annual World Ballet Day project, which launched in 2014, also helps companies like The Australian Ballet to increase their "international footprint".

"It is so wonderful to let audiences from around the globe see behind the scenes and experience the company working towards the seasons that we will be presenting on stage," McAllister said.

"Being based in Australia we get to perform around our country all year but our international footprint is restricted to international tours which we do in most years to one or two destinations.

"World Ballet Day multiplies that exposure for the company and dancers providing us with an opportunity to make connections across Australia and the world in destinations where we aren’t able to perform."

World Ballet Day, October 4, starts at 1pm AEST with The Australian Ballet, followed by the Bolshoi Ballet (5-9pm), The Royal Ballet in London (9pm-1am), The National Ballet of Canada (1am-5am), and the San Francisco Ballet (5am-9am).

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