Have you always wanted to see a world-class ballet performance?
With funding for the arts being cut everywhere, that is not such an easy dream to achieve anymore.
For the best shows, you’ll want to visit one of the best ballet companies in the world.
These companies employ the best dancers and create the best shows. They set the gold standard for what you can expect from the best ballerinas in the world.
But what are the world’s best ballet companies?
Keep reading for the 7 top ballet companies worldwide. The type of performances they put on can differ considerably, but the one thing they all have in common is that they are the best you will ever see.
Table of Contents
Best Ballet Companies In The World
The Paris Opera Ballet
This world-renowned company has been around since 1669. This makes it one of the oldest ballet companies in the world (if not the oldest).
They employ a Ballet Master in Chief. A ballerina generally holds this position for the length of time that she remains in their athletic prime, or however log she has the ability to properly teach young ballerinas.
One of the reasons that we can’t be sure if it is the oldest is that dance wasn’t introduced until 1673. But there is the belief that it was going on behind the scenes, before being formally introduced into the school’s teachings.
Famed for practicing in the court of Louis XIV, The Paris Opera Ballet gets mixed in with a sordid history surrounding the poet Pierre Perrin and some historic drama (but we’ll get into that another time).
Today, the Paris Opera Ballet practices ballet direction, orchestra and chorus, and regularly teaches their ballet school and academy.
They allow admissions from ages eight to seventeen, although after that point continued practice is no longer offered (it should be gained from work experience).
They also offer summer school, which is commonly attended by American children during summer vacation when families travel abroad.
The Paris Opera Ballet is known for being the gold standard in professional ballet, and ballet academies. For more information, you can visit their website, or go to Place de la Bastille, 75012 Paris to visit them in person and get more information on the school for your own children.
The Bolshoi Ballet
With a rich history and some of the most wonderful principals in the world, the Bolshoi Ballet even has its own museum to showcase its fantastic history of arts.
If you haven’t yet, you should check out the Google Arts & Culture virtual exhibition to learn as much as possible about this ballet.
The Bolshoi Ballet was founded in Moscow, Russia. It shares a birth year with the United States of America.
In 1776, Catherine II granted the prosecutor, Prince Pyotr Urusov, the ability to preserve theater, art, and culture. You can see many vintage photographs in the Bolshoy Vintage Photography online exhibit.
There’s so much history here that it almost puts the Paris Opera Ballet to shame. Currently, the Bolshoi has been enjoying its new stage, which was opened in 2002.
Prior to that, the institution was moved to the Bolshoi building, which is now one of the major attractions that tourists flock to when they visit Moscow.
With more than half-a-dozen of the finest principles, tons of soloist teachers, and plenty of additional help in their institution, the Bolshoi Ballet continues to put prowess and power on the top of their priority list by ensuring that every ballerina has the best education possible.
Leading with a colorful, bold performance style, the Bolshoi Ballet showcases the vibrant and lively side of ballet that some renditions simply mangle.
Their goal is to maintain a bold approach to ballet: one that leaves seasoned and first-time viewers alike in awe at the sheer coordination, grace, and beauty of what they see.
American Ballet Theatre
Classical, beautiful, and illustrious, the American Ballet Theatre is responsible for some of the most star-studded and stunning ballets that we’ve seen in the last twenty years. Their name is synonymous with grace and gorgeous composure. They have yet to disappoint an audience.
Serious dedication isn’t something you come by often, unless it’s in the arts. Nobody is dedicated to a nine-to-five job the way an artist is passionate about their craft.
At the American Ballet Theatre, their dancers are particularly skilled at creating an entire performance. While opportunities don’t arise often, they are sought-after by dancers. If you’re interested, they have internships open all the time (though you have to stalk the web page, because they tend to go fast).
New York City Ballet
Founded in 1948, the New York City Ballet doesn’t have the illustrious history that some of these other companies have, but that doesn’t discredit them in the slightest.
With an appetite for being the very best, the New York City Ballet has continually provided some of the best ballet experiences of the last seventy-plus years.
It all started in 1933, when Lincoln Kirstein met George Balanchine, and help him achieve his dream of beginning a ballet school in St. Petersburg. It sounds simple, but that’s about as basic of an origin story as you get—two founders had a similar passion and wanted to make it into something.
In the midst of writing this in 2021, the New York City Ballet became one of the first ballet companies to put dancers back on stage amidst the pandemic, in safe conditions.
This was much more impressive than it sounds. It was virtually a miracle. They did a fantastic job of keeping the dancers in good health.
The Royal Ballet
The Royal Opera House houses the Royal Ballet. If you know anything about ballet, this name will sound familiar to you right away.
Their iconic performances have left audiences speechless (even after their third and fourth visits). That’s all thanks to their precise attention to detail.
From intricate music provided by their music producers and top-notch training provided by their choreographers and staff, everything about The Royal Ballet comes to life right before your eyes. It’s as if you’ve been transported to another universe.
Apart from just being a good ballet company, they’re also a top-notch ballet school. In 1931, their school opened under founder Ninette de Valois.
They still practice the same level of quality and attention to detail as they did nearly a century ago. They’re one of the best ballet companies, because they’ll do whatever it takes to make sure the performance is top-tier.
National Ballet Of Canada
Canada is largely French. For American readers, you might be surprised to find that some Canadians don’t even speak English (depending on where you are). That heritage carries over into their love of ballet.
While the National Ballet of Canada was hit hard by the 2020/2021 COVID-19 pandemic, they were able to adapt and maintain virtual ballet videos, classes, and more. They’ve proven to be one of the most adaptive and technologically proficient ballet companies in recent years.
When a global pandemic isn’t crippling their efforts, this 70-year-old institution (founded in 1951) continues to put on star-studded performances in a classical sense, sticking to many of the beloved forms and variations that we’ve all seen on stage in classical ballet in the past. Only they do it better.
Dance Theatre Of Harlem
If you want an all-inclusive experience, there’s no better place to look than the Dance Theatre of Harlem. Right in the heart of Harlem, they provide some of the most beautiful shows you’ll ever see.
And they do it with a with a diverse cast of unique dances that you’ll not find anywhere else in the world. No other stage is set the way DTH sets theirs.
Apart from the dance itself, the atmosphere, showmanship, and attention to detail in every DTH show is ridiculously intricate. Their Dancing Through Barriers program is all about providing young adults and children of all ages with a way to practice their craft, and become fierce dancers.
Through study, support, and a fantastic community program, the Dance Theatre of Harlem is one of the most unique experiences you’ll ever have in ballet. There’s real dedication here.
While they are a stark contrast to what we see in the ballet world (see: all the other companies we’ve discussed so far), they make their performances come alive and envelope you. And that’s the true essence of ballet anyway, isn’t it?
Top Ballet Company In The World: Conclusion
Most of the ballet companies listed above have been around for ages, and continue to train and employ the best dancers in the world.
Even the ones that don’t have quite as long a history have made their mark on the world of ballet in the time that they have been in operation.
If you want to see a world-class ballet performance, every single one of the companies listed above will provide that. They might do so in very different ways and with 7 different types of ballet dances, but the end result is the same. An entertained and thoroughly amazed audience.
If you have dreams of joining one of these ballet companies, you’ll need to be the best of the best. If your plan is to buy a portable ballet barre for your living room so you can practice a few hours a week, you can put that dream to rest right now.
Ballerinas who work for these companies practice well over 40 hours per week. It’s their job. It’s more than their job. It’s their obsession. And it will need to be yours, too.