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Dancing to a new tune: World's first NFT ballet set to go on sale

A still from the NFT Giselle, The entrance of Act II
A still from the NFT Giselle, The entrance of Act II   -   Copyright  Bonhams
By Tim Gallagher

The world is set to see it’s first non-fungible tokens (NFTs) for ballet as the principal dancer for London’s Royal Ballet signs up for a special auction.

Renowned Russian ballerina Natalia Osipova will dance three pieces to be sold at Bonhams new auction "Encore! Modern Art on Stage", celebrating the places where visual art and the stage meet.

The sale will be a world first and will mark the first time that collectors and ballet admirers can own a piece of performance art, with the NFT format acting as a proprietary stamp attached to the digital works.

NFTs are unique and scarce pieces of digital media and art that are established on a blockchain. Blockchain technology means that the origin and ownership of NFTs can always be proven.

Buyers will be granted full licence of the works, which means that they completely own the video, having the capacity to use or display it as they wish.

Bonhams
Still from "Left Behind"Bonhams

“It is our pleasure to offer these three outstanding pieces performed by the exceptional Natalia Osipova. Ballet is one of the most refined and moving art forms,” says Head of Digital Art, Nima Sagharchi.

Bonhams consider themselves something of a trailblazer in the field of artwork and NFTs. Earlier this year they hosted “CryptOGs: The Pioneers of NFT Art”, a groundbreaking collaboration between the auction house and SuperRare, the Authentic Digital Art Market.

“Through NFTs, we are able to crystallise unique performances, and own and collect what would otherwise be intangible,” Sagharchi continues.

Blockchain for ballet

Blockchain technology could be revolutionary for the world of dance and may propel performance art into a new age of digital performance and ownership, as it has done in the visual art market.

Earlier this year digital artist Beeple sold his work “EVERYDAYS: THE FIRST 5000 DAYS”, a collage of all the images he’d created since he committed to creating an image every day in 2007, at Christies for $69 million (€61 million).

NFTs are making waves in other industries with musician Grimes and Star Trek actor William Shatner both cashing in on the new tech. Meanwhile entrepreneurs in the wine and gambling sectors have also set out their stalls to cash in on the phenomenon.

Osipova will perform two pieces from the classic ballet “Giselle” and one from contemporary duet “Left Behind”. The bidding will take place between 29th November - 10th December, with prices beginning at £12,000 for “Giselle” and £50,000 for “Left Behind”.

The prima ballerina’s embodiment of Giselle marked her first key classical ballet milestone in London and received critical acclaim. She is said to be thrilled at this opportunity to bring NFTs and ballet together in such an important role.

“These performances are extremely significant for me, and I am delighted that global audiences can appreciate them in a way that has never been possible before,” says Osipova.

“It is an honour to perform the world’s first ballet NFTs, and I hope that this will pave the way for the next generation of dancers to connect with their supporters on this digital stage.”

The NFT collection will be sold at Bonhams alongside costume and stage designs, paintings, works on paper, sculpture, prints, books and manuscripts – depicting or relating to theatre, ballet, dance, music and circus from around the turn of the century to the 1960s.