Internationally renowned ballerina and star of the London Ballet Natalia Osipova is selling NFTs to raise funds for a new dance company.
The world’s first collection of ballet non-fungible tokens will be sold by international auction house Bonhams, with the bidding window open from today at noon.
The digital artworks available for purchase feature two video clips of Osipova performing the titular role in classical ballet Giselle, which are expected to raise £8,000 – £12,000 each, while a recording of a contemporary duet from Left Behind is expected to raise £30,000 – £50,000.
“As a dancer you need money to have independence,” said Osipova who revealed she wants to set up her own dance company with the proceeds of the sale where she can perform experimental work and showcase rising performers.
“At my own dance company, I want to provide young dancers with a platform where they can showcase their art, and potentially even perform their own NFTs,” she added.
If all goes to plan, Osipova, who trained as a classical ballerina in Moscow, said she will launch a dedicated NFT platform for dancers with the aim of providing up and coming performers with a source of income.
“I also want to prepare myself for finishing dancing,” said Osipova who at 35 is eyeing the end of a glittering career which has seen her perform on stages in Moscow, New York and London as leading roles in Romeo and Juliet, The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Giselle and more.
For Osipova the plan to sell NFTs was conceived during Covid with the help of ex-JP Morgan banker and long-time friend Natasha Tsukanova who marketed the concept to Bonhams.
“I felt completely lost when I was unable to perform,” said Osipova referring to the lockdowns of the Covid-19 pandemic. “For me, it enhanced my desire to connect better with audiences over a digital platform.”
The videos give audiences an up close and personal look at two of Natalia’s favourite performances. Natalia’s embodiment of Giselle marked her first key classical ballet milestone in London and has been praised by critics as the most definitive and celebrated interpretation of the role in her generation.
In contrast to this traditional role Left Behind demonstrates Natalia’s recent work to combine her classical training in ballet with fluid contemporary dance and an emotional narrative.
The head of NFT sales at Bonhams called the sale “amazing for ballet,” arguing NFTs can open up a new revenue stream for artists.
“Most ballerinas have quite a short career. It’s one of those areas of the performing arts where you are lucky if you are performing into your late 30s,” said Nima Sagharchi, who has organised NFT sales for artists including Tinie Tempah.
When asked why a buyer would pick up a digital clip of Osipova’s ballet performance rather than watching her live he said buying an NFT is an “investment in her career.”
“Ownership is different to experience. I wouldn’t say one is superior to another it’s just about the aims that you have,” he continued, comparing the purchase of an NFT video clip capturing a live performance to buying a signed print.
The sale for the digital artworks will close on 10 December with the NFT format acting as a proprietary stamp attached to the digital works. Buyers will be granted full licence of the works allowing them to use or display it however they wish.
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