Scandinavian summer nights with open air ballet, featuring dancers from the leading international ballet ensembles.


For the 16th year running, Verdensballetten presents its open air ballet festival performed by stars from The Royal Ballet of London, Staatsballett Berlin, the Royal Danish Ballet, and the Norwegian National Ballet. Names such as Steven McRae, Iana Salenko, Xander Parish, Lukas Brændsrød, Anna Rose O’Sullivan and Astrid Elbo will feature in the annual festival, dancing in the open air at specially selected venues in Denmark and Germany.

Principal dancer with The Royal Ballet of London Steven McRae and Danish opera singer Jens-Christian Wandt are the joint artistic directors of Verdensballetten.

For 2024, the festival will be presenting four original new ballets created specially for Verdensballetten by the choreographers: Eric Gauthier, Arleen Phillips, Joshua Junker and Steven McRae. The programme also features classical ballet from work such as The Nutcracker.


Verdensballetten saw the light of day in 2008 when Danish ballet dancer Johan Kobborg, then principal with The Royal Ballet of London, and Jens-Christian Wandt took the initiative for creating an open air festival of ballet at venues where the scenic surroundings, history and unique atmosphere would interact with the performance art on stage. The stage floor is erected in the midst of stunning landscapes steeped in nature and history as the only scenography. Over the years, celebrated artists like Alina Cojocaru, Sergei Polunin, Leanne Benjamin, Federico Bonelli, Marcelino Sambé, Francesca Hayward and Lauren Cuthbertson have danced with Verdensballetten, and its programmes have featured new works by Christopher Wheeldon, Wayne McGregor, Liam Scarlett, Kim Brandstrup, Tobias Praetorius, Kristen McNally and more besides.

The mission for Verdensballetten, as “The World Ballet” is also to reach audiences who rarely if ever experience ballet at this high international standard. The opening night is always in Copenhagen in mid-July, after which the festival visits stunning, out-of-the-way venues far from major cities. The setting may be beautiful castle gardens, museum lawns, iconic building forecourts, or a sandy beach, with the sea on one side and the dunes on the other.

The Danish regent HM Queen Margrethe II annually attends one of Verdensballetten’s performances. In 2014, the Queen’s late husband, Prince Henrik, joined Verdensballetten’s artistic team when he created the soundscape for the ballet entitled “Côte á côte”, which was inspired by a poem he had written for Queen Margrethe. The Prince personally intoned the poem in French, and as the accompanying music he chose Gabriel Fauré’s “Après un rêve” for cello and piano, while the choreography – en pas de deux – was created by British Kristen McNally. The artists were Francesca Hayward and Thomas Whitehead.

Over the years, Verdensballetten has received numerous awards. In 2013, HM Queen Margrethe bestowed the Order of the Dannebrog on Johan Kobborg, and in 2021, Jens-Christian Wandt received Danish Ballet’s Friends “Applause Award”.

The World Ballet presents 10-11 performances annually, and attracts an audience of around 16,000 people.



The Royal Ballet of London
Steven McRae
Anna Rose O’Sullivan
Lukas Brændsrød

Staatsballett Berlin
Iana Salenko
Marian Walter

The Royal Danish Ballet
Astrid Elbo

The Norwegian National Ballet
Xander Parish

Lina Johnson, soprano
Jens-Christian Wandt, tenor
Charlie Siem, violin
Carolina Jaya-Ratnam, piano

Artistic directors:
Steven McRae & Jens-Christian Wandt


Excerpts from The Nutcracker, Eric Gauthier: Pas de deux

New choreography:
Arleen Phillips: Solo (artist: Anna Rose O’Sullivan)
Joshua Junker: Pas de trois (artists: Astrid Elbo, Xander Parish & Lukas Brændsrød)
Steven McRae: Pas de deux, Bolero (artists:Iana Salenko & Steven McRae)
Marian Walter: Solo, L. Cohen Hallelujah (artist: Marian Walter)


Verdensballetten on tour