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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Affects the Ballet World


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You're right, getting an HD image isn't usually a problem today. What can be a problem is recording decent sound from the orchestra. The streams being shown almost daily now range from broadcast-quality recordings to single-camera jobs, and the tinny sound of some of the latter can be frustrating.

Perhaps New York City Ballet can finally put its "media suite" to use, assuming it isn't completely outdated by now.

https://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/28/arts/dance/media-suite-at-david-h-koch-theater-goes-unused.html

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42 minutes ago, volcanohunter said:

You're right, getting an HD image isn't usually a problem today. What can be a problem is recording decent sound from the orchestra. The streams being shown almost daily now range from broadcast-quality recordings to single-camera jobs, and the tinny sound of some of the latter can be frustrating.

Perhaps New York City Ballet can finally put its "media suite" to use, assuming it isn't completely outdated by now.

https://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/28/arts/dance/media-suite-at-david-h-koch-theater-goes-unused.html

Yes! The audio capture of an orchestra does tend to be tricky, but the better video companies have sound people with decent abilities (probably not as good as the film industry though). I think the recent SFB releases all say "Archival Capture by Rapt Productions". I wonder what you think of the sound quality of Anima Animus?
Nothing sounds 'great' to me on computer, though I now have some pretty nice little KEF speakers for the iMac. And then there's the TV speakers and their own issues...

Edited by pherank
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11 minutes ago, cyclingmartin said:

Hear hear! to the last posts from volcanohunter and pherank about sound. As someone whose serious interest in ballet was preceded by many years as a professional musician, the sound problems in so many video recordings of ballet can be deeply frustrating.

Not surprisingly, the emphasis has always been on the dance visuals. But to arrive at a really professional digital product, the performances should feature some of the same audio recording techniques as used to record a live orchestra (sans stage performance). That certainly drives the cost up for the company, but best quality audio recording could be reserved for full-length ballets.

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A  very candid interview with Gil Boggs, Artistic Director of the Colorado Ballet, about our current realities: optimism but also realism. Midway through there's an acknowledgement that the next season might have to be cancelled until there is a vaccine and people are comfortable in a large theater. But this company is in excellent shape financially, owns its own building, has great supporters, etc. Still, it's sobering and I have to think every other ballet company director is thinking about the same things. (He mentions his wife Sandra Brown being ill with bronchitis. Some of you might remember her as a soloist at ABT, in the premiere of Lubovitch's Othello. She's now a ballet mistress at the company.)

 

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Oh, I loved both Brown's and Bogg's dancing at ABT!

I am very glad to hear that Colorado Ballet has a strong enough foundation that they won't be as vulnerable as many arts organizations.  So many organizations finally found footing after 2008 and other local crises, and it seems like one step forward, two steps backwards too often.

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27 minutes ago, Helene said:

Oh, I loved both Brown's and Bogg's dancing at ABT!

I am very glad to hear that Colorado Ballet has a strong enough foundation that they won't be as vulnerable as many arts organizations.  So many organizations finally found footing after 2008 and other local crises, and it seems like one step forward, two steps backwards too often.

I do wonder about Houston Ballet in particular - a company can only weather so many disasters.

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20 minutes ago, pherank said:

I do wonder about Houston Ballet in particular - a company can only weather so many disasters.

If Houston Ballet is one of the companies with a strong, wealthy Board where being on it means a lot of prestige, then I think they will be more able to weather it than companies with boards with less deep pockets and/or who would put basic needs social and civic causes ahead of the arts.

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1 minute ago, Helene said:

If Houston Ballet is one of the companies with a strong, wealthy Board where being on it means a lot of prestige, then I think they will be more able to weather it than companies with boards with less deep pockets and/or who would put basic needs social causes ahead of the arts.

I confess I don't know what Houston Ballet's 'governing' situation is like. But as SFB has stated in the past, the wealthy donors make up a smaller percentage of proceeds than people realize. It's the overall ticket sales that really keep things afloat from year to year. Big donors tend to pay for specifics, like the production costs of an individual full length ballet, helping finance a Ballet School outreach program, or subsidizing the salary of a star dancer.

Yesterday I received a contributor's email from SFB stating, "As we all continue to shelter-in-place and find new ways to stay connected, we want to thank you for your support of SF Ballet. We're so lucky to have such a strong community! Since launching the SF Ballet Critical Relief Fund, we've had over 750 people contribute, helping us raise almost $600,000 as of this morning."

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I don't doubt that having a strong base is very important.  But there are people who have enough wealth to be able to write a check to keep the roof from falling in.  (Sometimes that a matching grant, to encourage lots of people to give small amounts that add up. )  Sometimes the motivation is civic duty, and sometimes it is for social prestige.  And in troubled times, there are opportunities, as long as the institution is still standing.

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I've been thinking about  possible scenarios. E.g., if a company was able to test every single dancer before each rehearsal (along with temperatures, perhaps), could they rehearse small ensemble pieces, solos, pas de deux that might be performed in a black box theater with physical distancing for the audience? The dancers need to feel safe performing, even if they don't have an audience for awhile. I appreciate the on-line streaming of classes and old recordings, but they'll wear thin soon, if they haven't already.

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1 hour ago, California said:

A  very candid interview with Gil Boggs, Artistic Director of the Colorado Ballet, about our current realities: optimism but also realism. Midway through there's an acknowledgement that the next season might have to be cancelled until there is a vaccine and people are comfortable in a large theater. But this company is in excellent shape financially, owns its own building, has great supporters, etc.

 

They might be able to pay the mortgage and keep a skeleton staff in place, but can they pay the dancers? Most likely not, and many of them might move on to their next careers.

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21 minutes ago, California said:

I've been thinking about  possible scenarios. E.g., if a company was able to test every single dancer before each rehearsal (along with temperatures, perhaps), could they rehearse small ensemble pieces, solos, pas de deux that might be performed in a black box theater with physical distancing for the audience? The dancers need to feel safe performing, even if they don't have an audience for awhile. I appreciate the on-line streaming of classes and old recordings, but they'll wear thin soon, if they haven't already.

Taking temperatures or checking throats might not be sufficient. People with COVID-19 are contagious before they notice symptoms, and it isn't clear that any sort of exam would detect the infection before contagiousness sets in. I believe that there now are same day tests available in some other countries and it would only be necessary to test the dancers every 3 days, but that would still be a large expense and it might be forbidden for a non-essential organization to tie up testing resources.

Edited by YouOverThere
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1 hour ago, Helene said:

I don't doubt that having a strong base is very important.  But there are people who have enough wealth to be able to write a check to keep the roof from falling in.  (Sometimes that a matching grant, to encourage lots of people to give small amounts that add up. )  Sometimes the motivation is civic duty, and sometimes it is for social prestige.  And in troubled times, there are opportunities, as long as the institution is still standing.

I'm not sure if it's as much an issue in Canada, but in the U.S. there's an unfortunate reliance upon the wealthy - "Can't some rich person just pay for this?" It's an unhealthy way to run a society. I wish there could be more of a general fund in each county/region that supports arts and culture organizations (I don't expect that to pay for everything, just to act as a lifeline). If the residents of Seattle, WA were required to pay $5 a year into the local fund that would amount to $3,724,744. That's all a pipe dream of course, as I live in the U.S.
 

57 minutes ago, California said:

I've been thinking about  possible scenarios. E.g., if a company was able to test every single dancer before each rehearsal (along with temperatures, perhaps), could they rehearse small ensemble pieces, solos, pas de deux that might be performed in a black box theater with physical distancing for the audience? The dancers need to feel safe performing, even if they don't have an audience for awhile. I appreciate the on-line streaming of classes and old recordings, but they'll wear thin soon, if they haven't already.

I've been thinking about these things too. Going forward, the online presentations need to be packaged in a more formal manner, and really be part of a companies season role out - that' my feeling. They can't jut appear in various corners of the Internet, for free, and disappear willy nilly. The big companies should be presenting a certain number of performances each season online to digital subscribers from around the world. People would pay specifically to have access to these presentations. And they could certainly be preceded by some advertising, as long as no one interrupts the performance with 'commercials'!!!
 

38 minutes ago, YouOverThere said:

Taking temperatures or checking throats might not be sufficient. People with COVID-19 are contagious before they notice symptoms, and it isn't clear that any sort of exam would detect the infection before contagiousness sets in. I believe that there now are same day tests available in some other countries and it would only be necessary to test the dancers every 3 days, but that would still be a large expense and it might be forbidden for a non-essential organization to tie up testing resources.

Yes, authorities have to figure out how testing can be made available to all organizations, so we can stop playing the "essential" VS "non-essential" game. Governments are already getting a lot of heat for that approach - vast numbers of unemployed people cannot pay for anything and are being forced into failure, and that's an unworkable model given that it's all the 'little people' who actually pay for these grand systems through taxes. It certainly isn't big capitalists who are paying for society, as they are mostly subsidized. The general populous has to keep working. And I'm afraid that leads us back to the herd immunity concept - one way or another, most of the human population would have to develop immunity either by contracting the illness (and surviving) or taking the vaccine when that becomes available. There may be no way around it - people will go back to living mostly as they did and the virus will continue to circulate until it quiets down naturally. And Covid-19 will likely become a seasonal illness like any other flu.

Edited by pherank
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6 minutes ago, pherank said:

 I wish there could be more of a general fund in each county/region that supports arts and culture organizations (I don't expect that to pay for everything, just to act as a lifeline). If the residents of Seattle, WA were required to pay $5 a year into the local fund that would amount to $3,724,744. That's all a pipe dream of course, as I live in the U.S.
 

A seven-county region around Denver does just that. For every $10 collected in sales and use tax, one cent goes to cultural organizations. The Scientific and Cultural Facilities District has been approved repeatedly by voters for 30 years.  The program distributes $60 million a year to 300 cultural organizations, including the Colorado Ballet and much more. A great model that other regions might emulate!

https://scfd.org/who-we-are/about-us/

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3 minutes ago, California said:

A seven-county region around Denver does just that. For every $10 collected in sales and use tax, one cent goes to cultural organizations. The Scientific and Cultural Facilities District has been approved repeatedly by voters for 30 years.  The program distributes $60 million a year to 300 cultural organizations, including the Colorado Ballet and much more. A great model that other regions might emulate!

https://scfd.org/who-we-are/about-us/

It warms my heart that a U.S. community has approved this 30 years running.  ;)

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19 minutes ago, pherank said:

I'm not sure if it's as much an issue in Canada, but in the U.S. there's an unfortunate reliance upon the wealthy - "Can't some rich person just pay for this?" It's an unhealthy way to run a society.

In Canada the challenge was getting people to donate to the arts, because it was considered the government's job.  There were a lot more grants for artists and writers past the time that, for example, NEA funding in the US was slashed.  It's the same in Europe.  You can see "American/Overseas Supporters of Big Cultural Institutions" in Europe, with big billing, but not local donors so much.  (Either in the Millepied doc or the Wiseman doc on Paris Opera, it was clear that with the donations came at least the expectation of BMOC benefits.)

And, maybe it is, including the social clout that people get by being the rich person who pays for it, especially when it can be a game of chicken to see who gets billed as the savior.

One thing I do admire about Bill Gates, whose mother was a noted Seattle philanthropist, was that instead of paying for everything, while Microsoft did sponsor plenty of philanthropic efforts, including arts seasons, he pushed to institute  a generous matching policy for employees that got more and more generous as time went on.   And when the rule of thumb was that it took more than a generation of giving to instill as sense of philanthropic obligation to anything more than religion-based tithing or its equivalent, that was not the easiest sell, since this was the first time many who worked at the company had seen any wealth.  But it was immensely popular, and it jump-started giving for many people by decades.

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11 hours ago, Helene said:

In Canada the challenge was getting people to donate to the arts, because it was considered the government's job.  There were a lot more grants for artists and writers past the time that, for example, NEA funding in the US was slashed.  It's the same in Europe.

The "reliability" of those grants can vary a great deal from country to country. Reunified Berlin ended up with a lot of redundant institutions. Vladimir Malakhov was given the task of consolidating the city's ballet companies, which he did. But this has yet to be accomplished with its opera houses. There is a lot of resistance to the idea because it would inevitably result in some job losses, and so for decades the city of Berlin has continued to subsidize three opera houses.

Canada Council grants are nowhere near as inevitable. When it decided to eliminate touring grants, the National Ballet of Canada ceased touring domestically, something it had done pretty much since its inception. Now, once a year its dancers board a train for Ottawa to give three performances there, and that's about it where domestic touring is concerned. It would have been nice if a tour had been arranged to coincide with the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation, but I doubt it was even considered. Several years ago I mentioned to one of the company's principals that I had last seen him dance during the company's last Canadian tour, and he began to fume what a disgrace it was that the "national" ballet company wasn't bringing ballet to the nation. This, along with the disappearance of ballet programming on television (which I think has more to do with ratings than funding) means that it has been decades since any Canadian ballet dancer has been a household name.

When the Canada Council decided to reduce funding to the Royal Winnipeg Ballet in order to increase funding for Alberta Ballet and Ballet BC (which was severely lagging), it quickly went from having a serious and genuinely interesting repertoire, with a pretty strong Dutch accent, to being a purveyor of schlock such as Moulin Rouge and Peter Pan in order to put bums in seats.

Robert Desrosiers was a former National Ballet of Canada dancer who became quite a hip modern dance choreographer in Toronto in the 1980s with his own company and number of prominent commissions. However, when in the mid 1990s he attempted to translate this popularity into a season at the 3,000-seat O'Keefe Centre, it was a financial flop. In addition the Canada Council cut his grants because it decided his choreography wasn't evolving artistically,and within a few years his company ceased to exist.

Of course a hugely important element in encouraging donations to arts institutions is the tax break donors receive from the government in exchange. In Canada it is not particularly advantageous.

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Washington Ballet school announced yesterday that some of their on-line classes will be available for a charge. On-demand videos for $8. Live-streamed classes are $13. With so many free classes on-line elsewhere, I wonder how successful this will be, but ballet schools are surely thinking about revenue streams during this pandemic, just like everybody else. I hope they can make this work.

https://www.washingtonballet.org/covid-19-updates-information/

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2 hours ago, California said:

Washington Ballet school announced yesterday that some of their on-line classes will be available for a charge. On-demand videos for $8. Live-streamed classes are $13. With so many free classes on-line elsewhere, I wonder how successful this will be, but ballet schools are surely thinking about revenue streams during this pandemic, just like everybody else. I hope they can make this work.

https://www.washingtonballet.org/covid-19-updates-information/

SFB has been doing this same thing, but I haven't heard yet how successful they are in bringing people in.

https://www.sfballet.org/discover/backstage/san-francisco-ballet-school-goes-digital/

I think what was figured out pretty quickly was that the online company classes were getting an audience of people who weren't even close to professional in their knowledge of ballet positions and movements (and that audience was even trying to join the classes on Zoom). The newbies had to be quickly pointed in an appropriate direction.

So much is happening in a seat-of-the-pants manner it's impossible to tell what is going to have lasting results.


EDIT: OK, I finally found the adult ballet class page:

"Virtual classes will take place through Zoom with a one-hour class.  We will offer live accompaniment and will email you the Zoom link 20 minute prior to class. Online registration closes 10 minutes prior to the start of each class."
Classes are $8

https://www.sfballet.org/school-education/adult-programs/adult-ballet-classes/drop-in-classes/

Edited by pherank
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4 hours ago, California said:

Washington Ballet school announced yesterday that some of their on-line classes will be available for a charge. On-demand videos for $8. Live-streamed classes are $13. With so many free classes on-line elsewhere, I wonder how successful this will be, but ballet schools are surely thinking about revenue streams during this pandemic, just like everybody else. I hope they can make this work.

https://www.washingtonballet.org/covid-19-updates-information/

Colorado Ballet Academy just announced the same thing for their Adult Open classes @$10. I really hope all these schools find a successful model.

=================

Colorado Ballet Academy is excited to offer Virtual Open classes for all of our Adult Open students beginning Monday, April 20. We know this is not a direct replacement for our in-studio classes but hope it gives everyone a chance to stay up to speed with their Ballet training!  

All classes cost $10 to drop in. You must register and pay on our website ahead of time in order to receive class login information.

 

Day 

Time 

Class 

Teacher 

Monday 

10:00-11:30am 

Adult Intermediate Ballet 

Whitney Popp 

Tuesday 

10:00-11:30am 

Adult Intermediate Ballet 

Jayne Persch 

Wednesday 

10:00-11:30am 

Adult Beginning Ballet 

Erika Sandre 

Thursday 

10:00-11:30am 

Adult Intermediate Ballet 

Jayne Persch 

Friday 

10:00-11:30am 

Adult Intermediate Ballet 

Robert Sher-Machherndl 

Saturday 

12:00-1:30pm 

Adult Beginning Ballet 

Diane Page 

 

Please follow the link below to register and pay for your class. After you have paid for your class you will be sent an email from tickets@coloradoballet.org with a receipt, Zoom Video Conferencing Link, and password. 

We are not applying previously purchased classes (online drop-in registration or punch cards) to online classes at this time. We plan to honor any in-person classes purchased online during the closure once we return to classes in the studios. All Class Punch Cards’ expiration dates will be extended at least 2 months. Anyone that has paid for a drop-in class online, that did not occur due to the closure, will be able to apply that registration to a future class in studio.   

We hope to see you in classes this week! Please let us know if you have any questions! 

Thank you, 

Megan Lay | Colorado Ballet Pre-Professional Division and Summer Programs Administrator

Phone: (303) 339-1717 | megan.lay@coloradoballet.org 

1075 Santa Fe Drive, Denver, CO 80204

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I'm not sure where to put this sort of thing anymore, but, Misa Kuranaga will be demonstrating how she spends her day under quarantine at Pointe Magazine's Instagram page tomorrow, Sunday, April 19.
I'm guessing this item will be 'live' tomorrow, or found by clicking on the IGTV icon and viewing the Pointe Magazine video channel.
 

 

 

Edited by pherank
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I think the biggest issue in Canada is the lag in perception that government grants take care of the arts with the practice and expectation of donating to support them.  Too many people think the situation is back when they were growing up or young adults.

I thought charitable donations came directly off of income, but it's been a while since I filed a Canadian tax return, and I may be misremembering, or there may have been a limitation that didn't impact me.

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Steps on Broadway just announced their virtual classes @$12. Interesting that so many schools are announcing on the same day:

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Steps on Broadway invites you to join us for Virtual Steps: A Livestream Class Experience! Train at home with our world-renowned faculty for just $12 a class. Classes begin on Monday, April 20 at 9AM (EST).
 
We miss you and your teachers miss you, so join us in our virtual studio as we keep you dancing at home. Classes will be offered in every style for every level from your favorite teachers.
 
Let’s keep dancing!
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Steps on Broadway | 2121 Broadway, 3rd Floor, New York, NY 10023
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