5 Ballet Companies You Should Know

Discover five of the world’s leading ballet companies.

The world of ballet is a mesmerizing realm of brilliant ballerinas on pointe, fabulous tutus, and unmatched athleticism. Ballet companies have been training dancers and enchanting audiences for nearly five centuries, leaving a profound impact on the international stage. From the cobbled streets of Paris to the bustling metropolis of New York, let’s explore some of the world’s best ballet companies that have shaped the art of ballet and continue to dazzle the world with their exceptional performances.


Paris Opera Ballet 

Established in 1669 during the reign of Louis XIV, the Paris Opera Ballet holds the distinction of being the oldest national ballet company in the world. The original dance company was headed by Ballet Master Pierre Beauchamp, who was a pivotal figure in shaping ballet as we know it. The company is dedicated to preserving classical ballet traditions, like the five major positions and tutu-clad ballerinas, and has earned a reputation for unrivaled elegance, rigor, and sophistication. Its associated ballet school, Ecole de l’Opera National de Paris, is renowned for its exclusivity and rigorous training.

The Dance of the Little Swans from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake is notoriously difficult. Dancers need to be extremely precise and in sync with each other. Not a problem for pupils of the Paris Opera Ballet.


The Royal Swedish Ballet – Kungliga Operan

The Royal Swedish Ballet was established in 1773, by King Gustav III, just a few years after the founding of the Paris Opera Ballet. This respected institution isn’t afraid to embrace change and transformation, and is known for artfully keeping ”one foot rooted in tradition and the other stepping into the future.” In recent years, they have become known for embracing more contemporary and experimental productions, particularly those of Swedish choreographer Alexander Ekman. The company’s dedication to artistic excellence and its willingness to experiment has secured its status as one of Europe’s most respected ballet companies. 

Swedish choreographer Alexander Ekman is a common face at the Royal Swedish Ballet. This work, Eskapsit, showcases the company’s dedication to experimentation and innovation. 

The Royal Ballet

Founded in 1925 by the visionary dancer and choreographer Ninette de Valois, The Royal Ballet’s journey began as the Vic-Wells Ballet, housed in London’s Sadler’s Wells , and later moved to its current home at The Royal Opera House in London’s Covent Garden. In 1956, the company was granted a royal charter by Queen Elizabeth II, giving the company a new status as The Royal Ballet. With Sir Frederick Ashton as its founding choreographer, The Royal Ballet developed a distinctly ‘English style’ of dance and premiered seminal works that have gone on to become cornerstones of the ballet repertoire. Today, The Royal Ballet shines as an international gem in the world of ballet. 

Symphonic Variations is a brilliant example of Frederick Ashton’s work with The Royal Ballet. Here, Principal Dancers Natalia Osipova and Steven McRae dazzle in Ashton’s Neoclassical style. 


The Australian Ballet 

The Australian Ballet was founded in 1962 by visionary dancer Dame Peggy van Praagh, who sought to bring high-caliber ballet training and performances to her community. Based in Melbourne, The Australian Ballet is now the largest ballet company in Australia and is known for maintaining an impressive performance schedule, giving nearly 200 performances a year! The company frequently tours internationally, captivating audiences worldwide, and in 2023, they launched a spectacular 60th-anniversary tour which included a stop at The Royal Ballet. The Australian Ballet has won hearts with its spirited performances and unwavering commitment to nurturing local talent, solidifying its status as a cultural icon in Australia. 

This production of Prokefiev’s Romeo and Juliet was choreographed by Australian Ballet alum Graeme Murphy and has become a standard in the company’s repertoire. 


New York City Ballet 

Established in 1948 under the leadership of the legendary choreographer George Balanchine and arts patron Lincoln Kirstein, the New York City Ballet defied convention by promoting American-trained dancers, rather than international transplants, and presenting original works with neoclassical and contemporary influences. Balanchine’s avant-garde approach and American style led the company to international stardom. Today the New York City Ballet is considered to be one of the world’s premier ballet institutions.  

The New York City Ballet frequently performs full programs of Balanchine’s work, like this elegant program which they brought on tour to the city of Paris. 

From Paris Opera Ballet’s timeless elegance to The Royal Swedish Ballet’s daring innovation, these companies have left an indelible mark on the world of ballet. Their breathtaking performances continue to inspire and captivate audiences, showcasing the beauty and artistry of ballet. Experience the magic of these renowned institutions by watching their stunning performances on Marquee TV

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