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Boston Ballet has launched an NI streaming platform

Boston Ballet has launched an NI streaming platform

The art form of ballet has traditionally been viewed by many as a bit elitist expensive, rare, and perhaps imposing. Boston Ballet hopes to change those views with the introduction of NI, a free online content hub, today. The site, which is headed by Mikko Nissinen, the companys artistic director, provides access to immersive dance films, international collaborative projects, and virtual reality (VR) performances, all free to anyone with access. Its the company's primary goal to make ballet more inclusive, accessible, and equitable.

NI hopes to broaden ballet's appeal and attract new audiences, according to the company. Not just those hampered by cost and location, but also younger viewers and people who never considered the art form as an engaging form of entertainment and enrichment.

Boston Ballet worked with Denise Korn, NIs design director and strategic adviser, and Gensler Boston to develop the NI website and the project s identity. NI, which Nissinen claims means oneness in Greek and a dream (a fantasy) in Finnish, conjures a sense of unification and universality. The purpose of it is to bring people together, to unify people, he adds.

Works featured on the NI site were choreographed specifically for a digital platform, and they were shot with the intent of bringing the audience into the performance in new ways. NI viewers with virtual reality headsets will have access to a variety of multi-sensory performances that allow them to control their experience from the center of the performance space. However, most of the material will be non-VR and easily accessible on phone, pad, or computer.

Boston Ballet is planning a social media campaign to help spread the word and break down the language of dance, according to Nissinen. Everybody has a heartbeat, and everybody is dancer at heart, so lets demystify it, break those barriers.

Each season, Boston Ballet will refresh NI with new material with an eye toward highlighting underrepresented voices in the dance industry, such as Chyrstyn Fentroys Preface, an engaging, multi-layered work for film shot in various locations at Boston's Liberty Hotel. NI also includes performances from the Dance in VR Series Helen Picketts Petal and Ken Ossola s Zoom In - as well as Nanine Linning La Voix Humaine aswell as a docu-style piece on John Lam Moving Parts.

Meredith (Max) Hodges, Boston Ballet's executive director, says NI is the result of a year-long effort to expand the company'' s knowledge and technology for making virtual worlds. During COVID, we started making films, and that started to change, becoming more and more relevant, another way to have dance connect to people and give to individuals who dont have access, Nissinen says. It also provides a chance to revitalize the arts, he says, and it is the beginning of... dances next iteration.

Karen Campbell can be contacted at karencampbell4@rcn.com.

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