Search icon


23rd Mar 2020

A day in the life of a ballet company in Ireland

Cassie Stokes

Brought to you by Ballet Ireland. 

Think that going to the ballet is probably too posh or too boring for you? I did – until I joined Ballet Ireland for a day. Now, I’ll be first in line to see their shows.

I just want to start by saying ballet is NOTHING like I thought it would be. I never even knew that there were professional ballet dancers here in Ireland, I always thought it was more of a New York thing. Well, I was wrong and there’s a whole company of them dancing away at Ballet Ireland in Dublin.

I had the chance to join the dancers for the day for the latest episode of Curated with Cassie, which we filmed before the current social distancing recommendations were in placeThe company was rehearsing for an upcoming tour, which will see them travel all over Ireland.

I met 16 of the dancers who make up the company (or the troop as I was calling them). They are from all over the world, with French, Italian, Croatian, Japanese and, of course, Irish dancers among the group I met. There are a mix of women and men ranging in ages from 20 to their mid-30s.

Most have spent years living in some of the top ballet cities in the world, including NYC and London, and are recognised by critics and audiences for their skill, their individual style, dynamic performance and razor sharp technique… basically, they’re really good!

As I watched them rehearse, I could see the dedication they had to putting on the perfect performance every time they made even the slightest movement.

Their bodies are perfectly sculpted, every muscle more lean than the next, and they have so much trust in each other, especially when they perform a duet. They rely equally on each other’s efforts and strength. There is nothing easy about ballet – it’s not just prancing about, it’s extremely athletic and you can see this as soon as they hit the floor with force.

When you think ballet most people (myself included) think Swan Lake or The Nutcracker but these are far from the types of pieces you’ll see any of these dancers perform. Granted, most of the moves originate from way back in the day, but like every other industry ballet has had to adapt to changing times and tastes. If you thought that they only danced to classical music, you would be wrong.

“The dancers don’t want to just be dancing the roles that were created over 100 years ago by dead people,” says Ballet Ireland’s Director Anne Maher. “They want to work in the studio with live people!”

Ballet Ireland is currently working on an upcoming show called Bold Moves: a new triple-bill featuring internationally renowned choreographers Ohad Naharin (Minus 16), Filipe Portugal (Stepping Over) and Irish choreographer Marguerite Donlon (Strokes Through the Tail).

During my visit to the DanceHouse rehearsal space, I sat in on some of the most intense, energetic and quite fantastic pieces of the repertoire being performed by the Ballet Ireland company.

The dedication and the strength these dancers show is amazing. I literally saw blood (someone cut their leg), sweat and tears.

With everything that’s going on in the world at this minute, I have to say that while I was with the dancers watching them perform I was completely distracted and forgot about the world outside. I left that studio buzzing and with a positive vibe going through my body.

I think I can safely say I am a ballet convert – and that is not a light statement coming from me. Watch the video above or here to see for yourself.

There’s a new episode of Curated With Cassie landing on Her’s YouTube channel every Monday. Make sure that you never miss an episode by liking and subscribing to the show.

Brought to you by Ballet Ireland.