Royal Ballet dancer to auction world’s first ballet NFTs | Ballet


She is one of the most acclaimed dancers in the world, dazzling audiences with performances at the Bolshoi and Royal Ballet. Today, Natalia Osipova merges her age-old art form with the latest digital technologies.

Osipova, principal dancer of the Royal Ballet London and recently appeared as Giselle at the Royal Opera House, has created the world’s first non-fungible tokens (NFTs) for ballet which will be auctioned off over the next few days.

The dancer said she was “excited but a little nervous” upon entering the world of NFTs and cryptocurrencies, but “I like to take risks and this is my last adventure.”

She added, “NFTs have rocked the art world, especially over the past year or so, and I realized that they could also broaden the appeal and reach of ballet.”

NFTs are unique digital assets stored on a blockchain. An NFT can be copied, but there is only one original, and blockchain technology means origin and ownership are definitively established. NFTs can be sold and traded between collectors.

Osipova has performed three pieces, two by Giselle and one by the contemporary duo Left Behind, which she dances with her fiancé, Jason Kittelberger.

Giselle, she said, was “my favorite classic role, beautiful and amazing”. Left Behind featured more recent work combining “classical ballet training with fluid contemporary dance and emotional narrative”.

Together, the pieces form Natalia Osipova: Triptych, which will be auctioned off by Bonhams by December 10.

The motive for creating the NFTs arose during the Covid lockdowns. “I felt completely lost when I was unable to play,” said Osipova. She decided to explore ways to connect with audiences on a digital platform.

She and Kittelberger also plan to form their own dance company. “We hope to find some financial independence by selling NFTs to fund the business,” Kittelberger said. “We hope that [build a] bridge to crypto[currency] community because they are the ones who really invest.

NFTs also create lasting works of art. The careers of dancers are “really short,” said Osipova. “You stop about 40, maybe 45, sometimes earlier. I’m 35 now, I can jump and my body looks good, and now is the time to record. Maybe in two years I won’t be able to do the same. It’s sad but it’s true.

NFT sales have increased this year in what is often described as another gold rush. Digital artist Mike Winkelmann, better known as Beeple, made history in March by selling an NFT for $ 69.4 million. That same month, musician Grimes sold an NFT collection for nearly $ 6 million.

Nyan Cat, a pixelated flying feline that became a YouTube sensation, sold as NFT for $ 531,000 in February.

Osipova began formal ballet training in Moscow at the age of nine and joined the Bolshoi at the age of 18. In 2011, she resigned her position as principal dancer, saying she needed “artistic freedom” and new challenges. She joined the Royal Ballet as a principal dancer in 2013.

She said she hoped her NFTs “would pave the way for the next generation of dancers to connect with their supporters on this digital stage.” Dancing was “the best language in the world,” but the past two years had shown that “we need different platforms for people to see great art,” she said.

Osipova and Kittelberger said their business was a “bet” because the ballet NFT market was unknown. The two abbreviated Giselle NFTs are expected to sell for between £ 8,000 and £ 12,000 each, and the Long Left Behind NFT is expected to fetch between £ 30,000 and £ 50,000.

Nima Sagharchi, head of digital art at Bonham, said the auction house was “proud to be a pioneer in the field of NFT – having sold works of digital art and a collectible card. Cristiano Ronaldo NFT record – and deliver yet another world premier.

“Through NFTs, we are able to crystallize unique performance, own and collect what would otherwise be intangible.”


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