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SFB Program 4: A Midsummer Night's Dream


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1 hour ago, Phrenchphry11 said:

Just got my link to stream at Midsummer Night's Dream!  Very excited to be able to watch.

I bet.  ;)
Please report on your impressions when you get a chance, Phrenchphry11.

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Finally got around to watching!

First impressions:

- Wow, the video production quality is really high - neat camera angles, loved the shots of the orchestra.  I really hope they plan on making this more widely available!

- LOVED the sets and costumes.  Especially loved the color contrast (red v blue) for Hermia, Lysander, Helena, and Demetrius. 

- FINALLY got to see some of Vladislov Kozlov and Sasha Mukhamedov.  I'd only seen Kozlov in a smaller part in Sleeping Beauty, I quite liked him in this.  Often from where I sit in the opera house, I don't get to see much of the dancers' facial expressions but I thought he had a really warm, emotive face and looked to be having a good time.  I really hope to see more of him, I wonder why he was used so little last season (maybe just injury?).  I really like Mukhamedov too - either SF ballet is a very short company or she's quite tall, but she really stood out (in a good way).  Lovely feet and legs, she seemed well-cast as the Queen of the Amazons.  If I'm being nitpicky, she had some double tour jumps (?) that she couldn't quite stick the landing on - sometimes I wish dancers opted out of the "trick" steps and just stuck to things they could reliably perform.  But oh well.  I am a little bummed she wasn't cast as Cinderella this season.  Nevertheless, I look forward to seeing more of Kozlov and Mukhamedov next year, if not sooner.

- Frances Chung was the featured woman in the Act II pas, and she was absolutely radiant.  Though I love her dancing, I don't always think of her as the most dramatic or overtly emotional dancer, but I really felt moved by her in this.  Love the final bit of partnering at the end of this pas de deux.

- Sasha de Sola was a lovely Titania.  However, she doesn't always have the most expressive face, some of the closeups didn't play super well with the camera, in my opinion.  Nonetheless, she's really always extremely technically solid and really seemed to float across the stage in all her pas de deux.  

- Honestly the highlight for me was Cavan Conley as Puck.  Truly amazing performance, both with his acting and dancing.  A lovely mix of humor, comedy, and neat jumps and tricks.  The final scene where he floats away was just gorgeous.  I think he's got a really great future at SF Ballet.  He stole the show.

- Overall, loved the production.  Large cast, lots of featured roles, and all the dancers seemed to be enjoying themselves.  I loved the huge cast of kids in the show, I'm sure it was really sad for them that they couldn't perform the whole run.  

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11 minutes ago, Phrenchphry11 said:

Finally got around to watching!

First impressions:

- Wow, the video production quality is really high - neat camera angles, loved the shots of the orchestra.  I really hope they plan on making this more widely available!

- LOVED the sets and costumes.  Especially loved the color contrast (red v blue) for Hermia, Lysander, Helena, and Demetrius. 

- FINALLY got to see some of Vladislov Kozlov and Sasha Mukhamedov.  I'd only seen Kozlov in a smaller part in Sleeping Beauty, I quite liked him in this.  Often from where I sit in the opera house, I don't get to see much of the dancers' facial expressions but I thought he had a really warm, emotive face and looked to be having a good time.  I really hope to see more of him, I wonder why he was used so little last season (maybe just injury?).  I really like Mukhamedov too - either SF ballet is a very short company or she's quite tall, but she really stood out (in a good way).  Lovely feet and legs, she seemed well-cast as the Queen of the Amazons.  If I'm being nitpicky, she had some double tour jumps (?) that she couldn't quite stick the landing on - sometimes I wish dancers opted out of the "trick" steps and just stuck to things they could reliably perform.  But oh well.  I am a little bummed she wasn't cast as Cinderella this season.  Nevertheless, I look forward to seeing more of Kozlov and Mukhamedov next year, if not sooner.

- Frances Chung was the featured woman in the Act II pas, and she was absolutely radiant.  Though I love her dancing, I don't always think of her as the most dramatic or overtly emotional dancer, but I really felt moved by her in this.  Love the final bit of partnering at the end of this pas de deux.

- Sasha de Sola was a lovely Titania.  However, she doesn't always have the most expressive face, some of the closeups didn't play super well with the camera, in my opinion.  Nonetheless, she's really always extremely technically solid and really seemed to float across the stage in all her pas de deux.  

- Honestly the highlight for me was Cavan Conley as Puck.  Truly amazing performance, both with his acting and dancing.  A lovely mix of humor, comedy, and neat jumps and tricks.  The final scene where he floats away was just gorgeous.  I think he's got a really great future at SF Ballet.  He stole the show.

- Overall, loved the production.  Large cast, lots of featured roles, and all the dancers seemed to be enjoying themselves.  I loved the huge cast of kids in the show, I'm sure it was really sad for them that they couldn't perform the whole run.  

Thanks, Phrenchphry11!

Yes, Kozlov was injured. Unfortunately, it's pretty common for dancers coming from foreign countries to injure themselves within the first couple of years in their new culture/environment. It's a stress/mental thing.

RE: Mukhamedov - it would be great to have a taller dancer for a change.  ;)
Skipping Balanchine steps is usually considered to be a no-no. And not encouraged any place but Russia. Definitely Tomasson would expect all the principals to perform Balanchine roles "as written" - and sink or swim.

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Just by coincidence, TCM aired the classic 1935 film of A Midsummer Night's Dream tonight. This is the version with Nina Theilade as Fairie. The cinematography effects are great - very stylish. Some of the Hollywood heavyweights that appear are a little hard to take reciting Shakespeare, but it's generally fun.

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Nini-3_trans_NvBQzQNjv4BqRTFpNHA2nOFmtsr

s4JnYgkLo6NfsiknF6tCDvOeBEr.jpg

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SF Ballet just sent email with some attractive incentives to donate to their emergency fund. Most notably, for $200, they'll give you access to that recording of MSND!

 
cleardot.gif
 
 
 
 
 
 
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SF BALLET
CRITICAL RELIEF FUND
 
 
 

 

Dear ...

It's been just three days since San Francisco Ballet launched our effort to support our artists and workforce, and whether it's been through a donation or your meaningful words, we've been entirely overwhelmed by the outpouring of love. More than 54,000 enthusiasts have amplified our efforts on social media channels and since launching, our caring community donated over $100,000. We are humbled and invigorated by this support.

We are super excited to announce two new benefits for those who support the SF Ballet Critical Relief Fund, including an independent project from one of our dancers!
 
  • Enjoy Balanchine in quarantine! The evening of Saturday, March 14, in an eerily empty War Memorial Opera House, we video captured A Midsummer Night's Dream. When you give $200, you can escape to George Balanchine's enchanting fairy realm through the artistry of our dancers. Qualified donors will receive a link and email to access this recording!
  • A ghost light remembrance: in 2019, our Principal Dancer Sasha De Sola teamed up with her favorite SF jewelry store, Fiat Lux, to create "The Ascendant," a charity initiative with pieces that are co-designed and inspired by dance. Every purchase made from this line prompts a gift directly to SF Ballet Critical Relief Fund. With a gift of $5,000 or more, you will receive a gorgeous limited edition Fiat Lux silver pin inspired by the ghost light, a single bulb left burning whenever a theater is dark. While our ghost light is on, we know that we will return, triumphantly, to the Opera House as soon as it is safe.

 

753b1a3855109716a2d49d1ef4aa59a1.jpeg?r=
See below for all the different ways you can get involved and hear from us:
47d1cd9b970a367c25d11e0f31fd07cf.png?r=5
 
As one of our supporters said best: "We can't wait for the curtain to go up again -- take care until then!"
With unwavering gratitude,
The Entire SF Ballet Team
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On 3/25/2020 at 12:29 PM, Phrenchphry11 said:

Finally got around to watching!

First impressions:

- Wow, the video production quality is really high - neat camera angles, loved the shots of the orchestra.  I really hope they plan on making this more widely available!

- LOVED the sets and costumes.  Especially loved the color contrast (red v blue) for Hermia, Lysander, Helena, and Demetrius. 

- FINALLY got to see some of Vladislov Kozlov and Sasha Mukhamedov.  I'd only seen Kozlov in a smaller part in Sleeping Beauty, I quite liked him in this.  Often from where I sit in the opera house, I don't get to see much of the dancers' facial expressions but I thought he had a really warm, emotive face and looked to be having a good time.  I really hope to see more of him, I wonder why he was used so little last season (maybe just injury?).  I really like Mukhamedov too - either SF ballet is a very short company or she's quite tall, but she really stood out (in a good way).  Lovely feet and legs, she seemed well-cast as the Queen of the Amazons.  If I'm being nitpicky, she had some double tour jumps (?) that she couldn't quite stick the landing on - sometimes I wish dancers opted out of the "trick" steps and just stuck to things they could reliably perform.  But oh well.  I am a little bummed she wasn't cast as Cinderella this season.  Nevertheless, I look forward to seeing more of Kozlov and Mukhamedov next year, if not sooner.

- Frances Chung was the featured woman in the Act II pas, and she was absolutely radiant.  Though I love her dancing, I don't always think of her as the most dramatic or overtly emotional dancer, but I really felt moved by her in this.  Love the final bit of partnering at the end of this pas de deux.

- Sasha de Sola was a lovely Titania.  However, she doesn't always have the most expressive face, some of the closeups didn't play super well with the camera, in my opinion.  Nonetheless, she's really always extremely technically solid and really seemed to float across the stage in all her pas de deux.  

- Honestly the highlight for me was Cavan Conley as Puck.  Truly amazing performance, both with his acting and dancing.  A lovely mix of humor, comedy, and neat jumps and tricks.  The final scene where he floats away was just gorgeous.  I think he's got a really great future at SF Ballet.  He stole the show.

- Overall, loved the production.  Large cast, lots of featured roles, and all the dancers seemed to be enjoying themselves.  I loved the huge cast of kids in the show, I'm sure it was really sad for them that they couldn't perform the whole run.  

I am watching it now a second time and I pretty much agree with what you say, Phrenshphry11! 

Mukhamedov is required to do some double sauts de basque, which are the tours you refer to, and she hops after landing, though I would like to see on video how others have managed such a difficult step.  Double sauts de basque are rarely done by women, not even in class. 

I don't understand why Froustey was not cast as Titania (and I said the same thing about the casting for Cinderella). 

For me the highlight/revelation was Frances Chung.  I was floored by her dancing and soulful presence. Impossible to criticize any of her past performances, but her every movement was infused with depth and expression. Her artistry has deepened.  

The dancers were so wonderful. 

Sasha de Sola                      Titania

Esteban Hernandez            Oberon

Cavan Conley                        Puck

 Frances Chung, Ulrik Birkkjaer               Act II Divertissement pas de deux  

Sarah Van Patton                Helena

Demetrius                            Luke Ingham

Elizabeth Powell                  Hermia

Myles Thatcher                    Lysander

Julia Rowe                             Fairy

Lucas Erni                             Bottom

Vladislav Kozlov                      Titania's Cavalier                      

pherank, I watched the 1935 MGM Midsummer Night's Dream on Wednesday.  I have always enjoyed it!

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Posted (edited)
40 minutes ago, Josette said:

pherank, I watched the 1935 MGM Midsummer Night's Dream on Wednesday.  I have always enjoyed it!

It's a trip.  😉
I like the cinematography, and costume/stage treatments of that era.

SVP had been scheduled to play Titania too - she might have been great. I do wonder how the cast for the filming was determined. It looks like Tomasson was going with the 2nd cast, except for the substitution of Chung and Birkkjaer for Sylve and Di Lanno. Maybe they've already left the country? That would be a sad end to Sylve's association with SFB and the ballet school.

Edited by pherank
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Posted (edited)

I began this thread with an image of Sasha De Sola in rehearsal. We finally have a great image of her in MND Titania costume on stage:

91261169_218132452605599_272850295898072


And here with Vlad Kozlov:

91005082_219005962795683_188429852076675


Here's Cavan Conley as Puck:

90734816_634113553831074_289522968691594

Edited by pherank
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Just for the record, and for those fortunate enough to see the video version of SFB's A Midsummer Night's Dream -
 

Casting for A Midsummer Night's Dream, filmed on Saturday, March 14, 2020


Act I
Puck: Cavan Conley
Oberon: Esteban Hernandez
Titania: Sasha De Sola
Her Cavalier: Vladislav Kozlov

11 Bugs: Students of the San Francisco Ballet School
Lead Butterfly: Julia Rowe
4 Butterflies: Ellen Rose Hummel, Leili Rackow, Norika Matsuyama, Lauren Parrott

Hermia: Elizabeth Powell
Lysander: Myles Thatcher
Helena: Sarah Van Patten
Demetrius: Luke Ingham
Titania's Page: Student of the San Francisco Ballet School
Bottom: Lucas Erni
2 Drunks: Nathaniel Remez, Sean Bennett
Theseus: Tiit Helimets
4 Horn Blowers: Adrian Zeisel, Lleyton Ho, Rubén Cítores, Estéban Cuadrado

12 Fireflies: Students of the San Francisco Ballet School
12 Fairies: Ami Yuki, Maggie Weirich, Blake Johnston, Kimberly Marie Olivier, Megan Amanda Ehrlich, Gabriela Gonzalez, Swane Messaoudi, Thamires Chuvas, Bianca Teixeira, Kamryn Baldwin, Samantha Bristow, Carmela Mayo

24 Bugs: Students of the San Francisco Ballet School
Director: Ricardo Bustamante
Romeo, Juliet, Lantern, Wall: Lucas Erni, Davide Occhipinti, Nathaniel Remez, Sean Bennett

Hippolyta: Sasha Mukhamedov
6 Hounds: Thamires Chuvas, Bianca Teixeira, Jasmine Jimison, Gabriela Gonzalez, Samantha Bristow, Student of the San Francisco Ballet School

Act II
8 Court Women: Megan Amanda Ehrlich, Gabriela Gonzalez, Swane Messaoudi, Bianca Teixeira, Samantha Bristow, Carmela Mayo, Students of the San Francisco Ballet School
8 Court Men: Jacob Seltzer, Alexandre Cagnat, Joshua Jack Price, Davide Occhipinti, Max Follmer, Mingxuan Wang, Joseph Warton, Alexander Reneff-Olson
4 Tall Court Women: Ami Yuki, Blake Johnston, Kimberly Marie Olivier, Maggie Weirich
6 Small Court Women: SunMin Lee, Ellen Rose Hummel, Norika Matsuyama, Lauren Parrott, Jasmine Jimison, Student of the San Francisco Ballet School

Divertissement
Pas de Deux: Frances Chung, Ulrik Birkkjaer
6 Women: Leili Rackow, Isabella DeVivo, Jahna Frantziskonis, Wona Park, Kamryn Baldwin, Elizabeth Mateer
6 Men: Diego Cruz, Max Cauthorn, Daniel Deivison-Oliveira, Steven Morse, Sean Bennett, Henry Sidford

Coda
4 Extra Fairies: Students of the San Francisco Ballet School
Extra Butterflies: Students of the San Francisco Ballet School

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Posted (edited)

Finally watched the AMND video...

A professional, well filmed dance video (definitely blu-ray/DVD quality, imo). And that is saying something given all the terrible examples of dance cinematography from the last 100 years. I found little to complain about in the camerawork - nothing much inappropriate or annoying. And that's really all I ask for.  😉  

For me, De Sola was believably in character: proud and 'queenly' - at least until Oberon and Puck decide to make a fool out of her. She got the difference between playing a queen, and playing a princess. And she made the switch to infatuated lover well enough. So I had no issues with her mime acting. It was De Sola's wonderful PDD with Kozlov early in Act I that first made me listen for the inevitable big applause - except that it was all silence, as the theater was empty. That made the actual applause and cheers that occur at the end of the ballet - dancers applauding the orchestra, the orchestra applauding the dancers - all the more poignant.

I enjoyed the Mukhamedov/Helimets partnering - I only wish the choreography allowed for more. Frances Chung with Ulrik Birkkjaer is, of course, a must see. But I'm starting to think Birkkjaer with whoever is a worthwhile expenditure of my time. It was great to see Lizzy Powell doing some dramatic acting again, and Ingham and Thatcher are always good character actors. It's just fun to watch them do their thing with glee. All the Corps and demi-soloist dancing was really solid, and in-sync and on tempo. At times it felt like the cast was shot out of a cannon and just keep zooming along to the never slackening pulse.

I lost track of all the "nailed it" moments (the bobbles I noticed seemed really minor and didn't do anything to distract from the flow of things). It's a strong performance from beginning to end. Cavan Conley is a wonderful Puck; Lucas Erni turns out be a talented mime actor as Bottom; Julia Rowe shows unflagging energy and technique as the Lead Butterfly; SVP is always great in a dramatic role; Esteban Hernandez was excellent as Oberon both technically and dramatically - the list goes on. The ballet school children did a great job, and many were just beaming throughout. But now I'm really wanting to see the archive film of the celebrated 1st cast to compare approaches.

Rachel Howard had previously mentioned how little time was actually spent staging this production:

"Sandra Jennings, répétiteur for the Balanchine Trust, has pulled off a wonder that testifies to the strength of the current company. She staged a ballet that requires 100 dancers and 25 children — and features a flotilla of gut-busting principal roles — in just three weeks (plus a little touching up last month)." [Note: as the film credits say, "additional coaching by Helgi Tomasson"]

That's just mind-boggling. It's hard to comprehend how all of this could be learned and organized in such a short amount of time. This production certainly reflects well on the entire SFB organization.

For me, there are so many confusing aspects to the Shakespeare play, not to mention the ballet, that I just have to let go of my frustrations and watch the dancing. This production makes that a fairly easy task, so congratulations to all.  But still, what the heck is Titania's 'cavalier'? A choreographic deus ex machina? Oh, never mind.

Edited by pherank
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1 hour ago, pherank said:

. . . what the heck is Titania's 'cavalier'? A choreographic deus ex machina? Oh, never mind.

I was wondering that myself one day, having only seen the word in a ballet context, I went to the dictionary to see if I could draw a connection between the word and it's function.  I remember reading man-at-arms as the first definition of cavalier and concluded that Titania's cavalier was her bodyguard. It made sense to me..🤔

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Just this very minute finished watching the taped production. I'd seen it 2 (?) weeks ago as a ticket holder, and it was harder to watch - so much "buffering" and interruptions and grief over all the consequences of COVID-19. Was so glad to get the news I could watch it a second round, as a donor to their Critical Relief (?) fund/drive. My husband hooked it up on our Apple TV setup this afternoon, and -- who knew? -- without wifi and instead a wired connection, there was none of the ghastly buffering that so dogged the first view. I just love your comments, pherank. I'm not in a critiquing mood; I'm so grateful I was able to sit and enjoy and escape this time around. Loved everyone's performance. Sometimes I scratch my head over Balanchine's choreography -- WHY did he need those ice-skater-esque double-tour (?) jump/landings for Hippolita? -- as well as other "Yup, that's Balanchine for you" bits. But that's Balanchine for you. I was crazy about the music. Just loved it. Thought I knew Mendelssohn, but I didn't recognize the Divertissement PDD music. Loved it. Ulrich/Frances pairing was stunning. Agree that  Lucas Erni as Bottom and Cavan Conley as Puck were show stealers. Loved the performance from Sasha -- both of them. First time for me in seeing Sasha M. Really enjoyed it.

Anyway. So happy I got to see it multiple times. Might even try and squeeze in a 3rd time. This second time brought me so much pleasure -- a valuable commodity these days. And I have to say, watching it on the television versus my laptop screen was a pleasant surprise. That's HD TV for you.

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, lmspear said:

I was wondering that myself one day, having only seen the word in a ballet context, I went to the dictionary to see if I could draw a connection between the word and it's function.  I remember reading man-at-arms as the first definition of cavalier and concluded that Titania's cavalier was her bodyguard. It made sense to me..🤔

That does help some. I just wish the staging made sense of it. If the cavalier was part of T's retinue from the very beginning, I might suspend disbelief.

EDIT: I went back and looked again, and Kozlov (the cavalier) does appear alongside Titania at her entrance, so it was just me not noticing.

2 hours ago, Terez said:

So happy I got to see it multiple times. Might even try and squeeze in a 3rd time. This second time brought me so much pleasure -- a valuable commodity these days. And I have to say, watching it on the television versus my laptop screen was a pleasant surprise. That's HD TV for you.

Apple TV is fun.  ;)
The ballet includes additional music from Athalie, The Fair Melusine, The First Walpurgis Night, Son and Stranger, and the Symphony No.9 for Strings. Lots of things to explore there.

I highly recommend this version of Mendelssohn's AMND score:

Mendelssohn: A Midsummer Night's Dream
Kathleen Battle, Frederica von Stade (vocals)
Judi Dench (recitation)
Boston Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Seiji Ozawa
Tanglewood Festival Chorus, directed by John Oliver

Here's a short preview:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSR0N-ZQmyM

https://music.amazon.com/albums/B0015RW4BU
https://music.apple.com/us/album/mendelssohn-a-midsummer-nights-dream/1440722842

Edited by pherank
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Btw, the email I received stated, Please note: This video link will expire at 11:59 pm on Tuesday, April 7th.

I assume that means for everyone, so if anybody else is dawdling - watch the video now!

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Posted (edited)

For the Record
What does it take for SFB to license a ballet video stream?

In the case of Balanchine's A Midsummer Night's Dream -
"San Francisco Ballet extends special thanks to The George Balanchine Trust, San Francisco Opera, Pacific Northwest Ballet and its Artistic Director Peter Boal, Artistic Director, San Francisco War Memorial & Performing Arts Center, the American Guild of Musical Artists, American Federation of Musicians, International Alliance for Theatre Stage Employees, Local 16, Theatrical Wardrobe Union, Local 784, and Make-Up Artists & Hair Stylists Guild, Local 706, for their support in making the streamed presentation of San Francisco Ballet’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream possible." [quoted from the video stream web page]

At least it's not difficult.

Edited by pherank
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14 minutes ago, pherank said:

For the Record
What does it take for SFB to license a ballet video stream?

In the case of Balanchine's A Midsummer Night's Dream -
"San Francisco Ballet extends special thanks to The George Balanchine Trust, San Francisco Opera, Pacific Northwest Ballet and its Artistic Director Peter Boal, Artistic Director, San Francisco War Memorial & Performing Arts Center, the American Guild of Musical Artists, American Federation of Musicians, International Alliance for Theatre Stage Employees, Local 16, Theatrical Wardrobe Union, Local 784, and Make-Up Artists & Hair Stylists Guild, Local 706, for their support in making the streamed presentation of San Francisco Ballet’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream possible." [quoted from the video stream web page]

At least it's not difficult.

And this is one of the reasons that it will take some big muscle and money to release all the Dance in America programs -- those contracts were written for the times, with the expectation that they would be for a single broadcast -- the multiple unions and rights-holders would ostensibly all have to sign off on anything further.

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8 minutes ago, sandik said:

And this is one of the reasons that it will take some big muscle and money to release all the Dance in America programs -- those contracts were written for the times, with the expectation that they would be for a single broadcast -- the multiple unions and rights-holders would ostensibly all have to sign off on anything further.

Some things take a village. And some take a pandemic.

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