Vault of Ballets: Ballet Repertoire you never knew existed!

It is hard to come across someone on the street who has never heard of Swan Lake or The Nutcracker, which are usually associated with the image of ballet. These iconic ballets have stood the test of time, yet there remains ballets from the past that continue to collect dust like boxes of old toys in an attic. Just as captivating, these forgotten ballets don’t get the attention they deserve (one can’t help but think of that tear jerking scene in Toy Story 3 when Andy decides it’s time to donate his old toys). Even ballet dancers well versed in the world of movement, grace and elegance might be unfamiliar with our list of long forgotten ballets. We want to share with you some of history’s greatest ballets that most people have never heard of, and are worth checking out. Let’s take a blast into the past, and open the vault of forgotten ballets!

Le Train Bleu (1924):   During the heat of the ‘Roaring 20s’ or what some know as the ‘Great Gatsby era’, artists became the world’s gateway into the latest lifestyle trends and fashions. Not quite the length of an instagram story or a boomerang video, full length ballets were a great source of entertainment for the public and reflected the latest in art and fashion. Choreographer, Bronislava Nijinska (the sister of the famous ballet dancer and choreographer Vaslav Nijinsky) created  Le Train Bleu  (The Blue Train) as a sarcastic response to the chic and coquettish lifestyle trends of the elite. Referring to the night train that got passengers to their vacationing destinations around the Mediterranean Sea, this ballet was first performed by the Ballets Russes.  Le Train Bleu  tells the story of vacationers at a seaside resort in the French Riviera who go about their fashionable sports activities and form relationships along the way. The ballet costumes were designed by the great Coco Chanel, which consisted of sportswear and swimwear. And as though Coco Chanel didn’t set the bar for why this ballet should be iconic, the artist Pablo Picasso designed the stage curtains. Chanel, Picasso and the ‘Roaring 20s’, what more could anyone want to be convinced to watch this ballet? Charming, funny and relatable,  Le Train Bleu  was a ballet crafted with creativity and ingenuity. You can check out online video clips of this masterpiece performed in a 1994 revival of the production performed by the Paris Opera Ballet!

Le Train Bleu (1924):

During the heat of the ‘Roaring 20s’ or what some know as the ‘Great Gatsby era’, artists became the world’s gateway into the latest lifestyle trends and fashions. Not quite the length of an instagram story or a boomerang video, full length ballets were a great source of entertainment for the public and reflected the latest in art and fashion. Choreographer, Bronislava Nijinska (the sister of the famous ballet dancer and choreographer Vaslav Nijinsky) created Le Train Bleu (The Blue Train) as a sarcastic response to the chic and coquettish lifestyle trends of the elite. Referring to the night train that got passengers to their vacationing destinations around the Mediterranean Sea, this ballet was first performed by the Ballets Russes. Le Train Bleu tells the story of vacationers at a seaside resort in the French Riviera who go about their fashionable sports activities and form relationships along the way. The ballet costumes were designed by the great Coco Chanel, which consisted of sportswear and swimwear. And as though Coco Chanel didn’t set the bar for why this ballet should be iconic, the artist Pablo Picasso designed the stage curtains. Chanel, Picasso and the ‘Roaring 20s’, what more could anyone want to be convinced to watch this ballet? Charming, funny and relatable, Le Train Bleu was a ballet crafted with creativity and ingenuity. You can check out online video clips of this masterpiece performed in a 1994 revival of the production performed by the Paris Opera Ballet!


The Tales of Beatrix Potter (1971):  Before there were dancers in t-rex costumes (if you haven’t a clue what I’m talking about, search up “Dancing Dinosaur T Rex Ballerina”), choreographer Sir Frederick Ashton and The Royal Ballet were asked to take part in a ballet film based on the famous children’s books,  The Tales of Beatrix Potter . In 1992, the ballet was brought to the stage as a live performance. Featuring all our favourite furry characters from the books, the ballet dancers never made dancing look easier despite these heavy mascot-like costumes (a reminder of life before CGI). The 1971 ballet film can be found on DVD if you fancy a ballet performance right in your very own home theatre. Otherwise, be sure to check out some clips on Youtube, and my particular favourite excerpt,  The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin !

The Tales of Beatrix Potter (1971):

Before there were dancers in t-rex costumes (if you haven’t a clue what I’m talking about, search up “Dancing Dinosaur T Rex Ballerina”), choreographer Sir Frederick Ashton and The Royal Ballet were asked to take part in a ballet film based on the famous children’s books, The Tales of Beatrix Potter. In 1992, the ballet was brought to the stage as a live performance. Featuring all our favourite furry characters from the books, the ballet dancers never made dancing look easier despite these heavy mascot-like costumes (a reminder of life before CGI). The 1971 ballet film can be found on DVD if you fancy a ballet performance right in your very own home theatre. Otherwise, be sure to check out some clips on Youtube, and my particular favourite excerpt, The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin!


Rodeo (1942):  Giddy up into the fun and sweet southern ballet of  Rodeo , choreographed by Agnes de Mille with music by Aaron Copland. Telling the story of a cowgirl in love who dances her way to her lover’s heart. The choreography is one of a kind, as it transforms horseback riding and cattle roping into ballet movements. Adding a comedic and theatrical twist to the stage of classical ballet,  Rodeo  is a sentimental family friendly work that reminds us not to take ourselves too seriously. Bringing us true southern charm, this American ballet reflects a culture and history which is rare to come by on the world stage of dance today.

Rodeo (1942):

Giddy up into the fun and sweet southern ballet of Rodeo, choreographed by Agnes de Mille with music by Aaron Copland. Telling the story of a cowgirl in love who dances her way to her lover’s heart. The choreography is one of a kind, as it transforms horseback riding and cattle roping into ballet movements. Adding a comedic and theatrical twist to the stage of classical ballet, Rodeo is a sentimental family friendly work that reminds us not to take ourselves too seriously. Bringing us true southern charm, this American ballet reflects a culture and history which is rare to come by on the world stage of dance today.


Excelsior (1881):  Though this ballet was not about Stan Lee of Marvel comics, it derives from the same Latin word “excelsior” that Lee referred to as a common phrase, meaning “ever upward”. First performed by La Scala Milan, the 1881 ballet  Excelsior  was choreographed by Luigi Manzotti who created this work to shed light on the upward movement of optimism and technical advancements of the future during the late 19th century (much like our reactions to vibranium from the  Black Panther ). Featuring characters of good and evil, the story highlights these Marvel-esque characters as they go through various developments in society and technology with the invention of electricity. Filled with climactic drama and formations made to wow us, this ballet is definitely for the Marvel lovers looking to branch out into the world of classical art and ballet. Though this ballet might not be well known for its choreography, it has become a landmark for progress in stage machinery and production. Yes it packs in a bit of educational history, but at the end of the day this ballet was made for the purpose of spectacle and to make our eyes pop!

Excelsior (1881):

Though this ballet was not about Stan Lee of Marvel comics, it derives from the same Latin word “excelsior” that Lee referred to as a common phrase, meaning “ever upward”. First performed by La Scala Milan, the 1881 ballet Excelsior was choreographed by Luigi Manzotti who created this work to shed light on the upward movement of optimism and technical advancements of the future during the late 19th century (much like our reactions to vibranium from the Black Panther). Featuring characters of good and evil, the story highlights these Marvel-esque characters as they go through various developments in society and technology with the invention of electricity. Filled with climactic drama and formations made to wow us, this ballet is definitely for the Marvel lovers looking to branch out into the world of classical art and ballet. Though this ballet might not be well known for its choreography, it has become a landmark for progress in stage machinery and production. Yes it packs in a bit of educational history, but at the end of the day this ballet was made for the purpose of spectacle and to make our eyes pop!


Sinatra Suite (1983):  Short and suite, this 14 minute ballet takes the best of both worlds, flawlessly romantic dance movements of ballet with the sweet crooning sounds of Frank Sinatra. Choreographed by Twyla Tharp,  Sinatra Suite  features Mikhail Baryshnikov and Elaine Kudo in an evening ballet accompanied by the music recordings of Mr. Sinatra himself. For all those 1980s lovers out there, (what’s not to love about perms, neon fashion and aerobic video workouts) this ballet brings a classic 80s ambience to the stage, with tuxedos and gowns, and gushy romantic dance numbers to last us a lifetime (giving  The Notebook  a run for its money). Sophistication at its finest, this ballet gives us the other side of the world famous ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov, both artistically vulnerable and suave.  Sinatra Suite  would be the perfect addition to a modern day ballet season, bringing back class, simplicity and beauty to the definition of ballet.

Sinatra Suite (1983):

Short and suite, this 14 minute ballet takes the best of both worlds, flawlessly romantic dance movements of ballet with the sweet crooning sounds of Frank Sinatra. Choreographed by Twyla Tharp, Sinatra Suite features Mikhail Baryshnikov and Elaine Kudo in an evening ballet accompanied by the music recordings of Mr. Sinatra himself. For all those 1980s lovers out there, (what’s not to love about perms, neon fashion and aerobic video workouts) this ballet brings a classic 80s ambience to the stage, with tuxedos and gowns, and gushy romantic dance numbers to last us a lifetime (giving The Notebook a run for its money). Sophistication at its finest, this ballet gives us the other side of the world famous ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov, both artistically vulnerable and suave. Sinatra Suite would be the perfect addition to a modern day ballet season, bringing back class, simplicity and beauty to the definition of ballet.


Before the vault of forgotten ballets close, be sure to check out clips or full-length films of these performances of yesteryear. For every famous and well-noted ballet production currently on stage, there are dozens of ballets that have taken a back seat, and they are just as important to the history of this amazing art form. As if spotting a shooting start under the hazy night skies of Hong Kong, it is rare to see these performances live today, so keep your fingers crossed and you might just catch a live reproduction of one of these long forgotten ballets. Until then, enjoy the wealth of dance videos online and the current ballet scene that your city has to offer.