American ballet company offers commentary during performance

Drawing inspiration from live commentary during sports events, a performance of Sleeping Beauty by San Jose company New Ballet has offered audiences the chance to dial into a conference call from their mobile and listen to anecdotes, background and analysis from a ballet expert alongside the performance. 

New Ballet Director Dalia Rawson said she was inspired by her experience watching electronic sports where – like with football or basketball games – the audience gets the added benefit of commentary on the action. At Sleeping Beauty, patrons with special Live Casting tickets were seated together in the balcony and dialled in to a conference call on their own phones (with earbuds) to hear the commentary during the performance. The audience had the experience of sitting next to a ballet expert providing commentary and context throughout the show.

It seems that New Ballet is the first ballet company to try this, a radical concept with its audiences using their phones in the theatre. However, the company’s staff believe that the context and additional information some audience members received will enhance the experience, just as it does when they receive commentary when watching football or the Olympics.

The Live Casting information that New Ballet provided included personal anecdotes, interviews with the dancers, and historical background about the show. This therefore added more context for the performance and enhanced the experience for those audiences who who chose to engage with the live commentary provided. Perhaps this will be the future of ballet performances in order for them to remain accessible for as many audiences members as possible.

In addition to the performance, there was also a one-hour performance – without Live Casting – for younger audiences with reduced ticket prices.