Founded in 1911, the Finnish Opera, which later became the Finnish National Opera, was initially based at the Alexander Theatre on Bulevardi. Read an article about the first steps of the Finnish National Ballet.
George Gé and Alexander Saxelin took turns as the ballet master of the Finnish Opera Ballet until the 1960s. Let's see what happened in the very first decades of the ballet company.
The Finnish Winter War and Continuation War from 1939 to 1944 affected the Finnish Opera Ballet in many ways. Soldiers – and entertaiment – were needed in the front.
After the war years, all of Finland got to enjoy opera and ballet performances on the Finnish Opera’s extensive summer tours. Summer tours took place every year from 1945 to 1967.
The decades of internationalisation that followed World War II brought guest stars to the Finnish Opera Ballet from many of the world’s leading ballet companies. Despite the Cold War, top talents from the east and west came together every spring at an international ballet festival in Helsinki.
After George Gé retired from his role as a ballet master in 1962, the Finnish National Opera’s ballet company had no longstanding leaders for quite some time. Instead, it relied more regularly on foreign choreographers and dance teachers.
Soon after the wars, the ballet started its visiting performances abroad. The first visit to the Royal Ballet and Konserthuset of Stockholm took place as early as 1946. The following year, a smaller troupe visited Denmark and Norway, and in the 1950s touring intensified further.
Suomen kansallisoopperan ja -baletin balettioppilaitoksen historia ulottuu Kansallisbaletin toiminnan alkuvuosille 1920-luvulle, jolloin balettiryhmän yhteydessä harjoitettiin myös opetusta. Aluksi Oopperan yhteydessä toimi maksullinen yksityinen tanssikoulu.
A new era started at the Finnish National Ballet in 1984 when the company’s former principal dancer Doris Laine was appointed as its artistic director, after decades of short-term leaders. Laine was a keen advocate for dance who held many positions of influence, while steering the ballet company towards the new Opera House.