Week of May 31 - June 4, 2021
Corps de Ballet Week
This week ABTKids Daily celebrates the heart and soul of any ballet company: the corps de ballet! Corps in French means “body” and ABT’s full-length classical ballets rely heavily on the corps de ballet to make up the body of their ballets. By playing diverse roles, such as, townspeople, swans, or even dancing flowers, the corps de ballet brings the story of the ballet to life at each performance.
Currently, ABT’s corps de ballet is comprised of 55 dancers (33 women and 22 men). Why do you think there are more women than men in a ballet company?
In many classical ballets, such as Swan Lake or La Bayadère, there are acts that prominently feature a large numbers of ballerinas. In La Bayadère, one of the most famous moments is the “Kingdom of the Shades” which features 24 ballerinas in beautiful white tutus dancing in unison! While male corps de ballet dancers are equally important, there just aren’t very many ballets that require such a large number of male dancers.
The corps de ballet is also the place where almost every professional dancer begins their journey. (While many begin as apprentices, the apprentices perform within the corps de ballet). Traditionally, after years of working in the corps de ballet, some dancers will receive promotions to the rank of Soloist, where they have the opportunity to perform more featured roles, and some will continue and be promoted to Principal Dancer, where they perform the leading roles of the ballet.
While the corps de ballet may not be listed at the top of the program, there are many nights where they steal the show and are the real stars of the performance!