Lift Your Spirits With These Online Dance Performances

Watching a beautiful ballet or modern dance performance online is a great way to expand your horizons and find joy during these difficult days, and many dance companies have stayed connected with fans by streaming new performances and posting recordings of prior shows.

Alvin Ailey American Dance TheaterWhile dance is a medium best enjoyed in person, watching a beautiful ballet or modern dance performance online is a great way to expand your horizons and find joy during these difficult days.

The pandemic forced dance companies around the world to cancel in-person performances, and it will likely still be some time before we can resume watching live shows again. But many dance companies have stayed connected with fans by streaming new performances online and posting recordings of prior shows. Videos still capture the vibrancy and grace of dancers and also allow for close-ups views that are not always possible during in-person shows. Viewing an online performance is also a great way for dance fans to watch international companies and take in a show that may have high ticket prices or is too far away attend in person.

To keep things fresh, many companies have added extra online content, such as chats with choreographers and classes for dancers at home, and some have reached into their archives to showcase notable performances from the past. We have rounded up here a collection of dance resources that feature free live and pre-recorded performances, and highlighted different kinds of styles and types of shows, some of which were created during the pandemic.

Ailey All Access

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, the legendary Harlem-based company, has created an online hub where visitors can view full-length performances, watch original short films, and sign up for online dance classes. The site currently has a compilation video of the company’s recent performances at Lincoln Center; this video features four performances, including Alvin Ailey’s "Revelations," one of the choreographer’s most well-known works. 

All Arts

All Arts, a multimedia arts platform from the public broadcast station WNET, has a comprehensive selection of dance performances available for viewing online. New videos are added weekly, while some older ones remain on the site. One current highlight is a series called "If Cities Could Dance," which showcases innovative dance styles from different regions, including Native American hip-hop dancers in Albuquerque, and a Bomba dancer in Puerto Rico.

Merce Cunningham Trust

The Merce Cunningham Trust, an organization devoted to preserving the work of the legendary choreographer, has a plethora of performances available for viewing on its YouTube channel. It includes dance performances from the web series "Mondays with Merce" as well as video interviews with Cunningham on various dance topics.

City Ballet of San Diego

This California dance company created a virtual ballet during the pandemic that is now available on demand on its website. "The Dark Room Series" is made up of four separate works. Choreographer Geoffrey Gonzalez filmed solos that he then edited together so that the dancers sometimes appear to be dancing together.

Joyce Theater

New York’s Joyce Theater has rounded up a comprehensive collection of dance resources from companies around the world. As part of its "Bring Dance Home" initiative, visitors can find links to different types of dance performances, behind-the-scenes videos, interviews with different choreographers, and links to classes for dancers at all stages. One highlight is the video of "Bach 25," a ballet performed at Joyce by Complexions Contemporary Ballet company.

Mark Morris Dance Group

The Mark Morris Dance Group, a modern dance company based in Brooklyn, has been streaming videos on its site all summer as part of its "Dance On! Video Vault" series. The latest installment in this series is now available for streaming on demand until Sept. 20. It features four solo works choreographed by Morris that were pulled from the company's archive and combined into one video. These performances took place at different times during the last 36 years. Two of them are performed by Morris, and the other two feature other company members. All four recordings are preceded by video introductions from Morris himself.

New Victory Theater

New Victory Theater is a venue in New York that hosts performing arts shows for young people and families. There are currently seven pre-recorded dance performances on its website that are available for on-demand viewing. The videos feature a variety of dance styles, including ballet, Indian folk dance, and modern dance. Each video runs for 20-25 minutes and features an introduction to the dance, a performance excerpt, a panel discussion about the piece, and a short choreography workshop led by a New Victory teaching artist. One notable selection is "Coco" from Ballet Nepantla, a company that tells stories about Mexican history through contemporary ballet, West African dance, and Mexican folk dancing.

Dance Theatre of Harlem

This lovely film features the Dance Theatre of Harlem performing to classical music by Bach. In the film, created for Harlem Week Festival 2020 and the African American Day parade, dancers take to the streets of Harlem and perform lively moves in a neighborhood subway station and in the courtyard at City College, among other spots.

Melanie Kletter is an educator and freelance writer and editor.  

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