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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Affects the Ballet World


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As far as the 20-21 season is concerned, there are performing organizations (dance and otherwise) that have already announced their programming, and started the subscription train down the tracks, but those who haven't made that step yet seem to be holding off.  Folks that can push things back, or make decisions about seating and scheduling later in the summer, seem to be taking that path.  In Seattle, Meany Center for the Arts (music and dance) announced their season about a week ago, and it's set up for a conventional "we will be sitting right next to strangers" format, and I was totally amazed at their assumption that this was a good choice.  It's been a couple of months, by the calendar, but it feels like a lifetime ago that this kind of season would be possible any time soon...

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On 5/11/2020 at 10:00 AM, sandik said:

...it's set up for a conventional "we will be sitting right next to strangers" format, and I was totally amazed at their assumption that this was a good choice. 

A cautionary tale from Amsterdam that it isn't just a question about audiences.

This was a concert that took place on March 8th at the Concertgebouw:

https://www.concertgebouw.nl/en/concerts/amsterdams-gemengd-koor-bach-s-st-john-passion/08-03-2020

These were the consequences: a cluster of 102 infections that spread among the musicians resulted in the deaths of a 78-year-old chorister and three family members of the musicians. Apparently no one in the audience was infected. (In French)

https://amp.diapasonmag.fr/a-la-une/concert-tragique-a-amsterdam-4-morts-30195

 

Edited by volcanohunter
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Santa Fe Opera cancelled its (summer) season yesterday and is hoping that people donate tickets back.  (via email yesterday). 

I just got my first Goldstar email in what seems like forever, and every single offering is virtual, from plays to musicals to comedy to classes to online social games to a virtual tour of Sicily.  

 

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This article made me wonder if some of the ballet companies have been in close contact, in much the same manner...

The Daily Call That 200 Arts Groups Hope Will Help Them Survive
In a sign of the pandemic’s toll, New York’s cultural institutions, large and small, feel compelled to share their woes and tactics in strategy sessions.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/12/arts/coronavirus-new-york-culture.html

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No surprise, but the Vail Dance Festival for 2020 has been cancelled:

 

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Dear Vail Dance Festival Community,

It is with a heavy heart that we must inform you of the cancelation of the 2020 Vail Dance Festival. This difficult decision was made in the interest of the safety and well-being of artists, staff and audiences due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We had hoped to be able to present some version of the Festival this summer, but with great reluctance have now concluded that it is simply not safe to do so. The Festival is a place of intense collaboration among our artists, and we look forward to the creative energy that will be more powerful than ever when we are all able to be together again next summer.” - Damian Woetzel, Artistic Director

Preparations are already underway for the return of live performances in the summer of 2021, with Opening Night scheduled for July 30th.

We are also preparing to host a digital version of the Festival during the planned July 31 - Aug 11 dates, which will include unique performances and commissions from past Vail seasons, as well as online forums and educational content featuring dance and music luminaries associated with the Festival. More information will be provided on vaildance.org and our social channels in the coming weeks. 

"It is difficult to think about not having the Festival this summer in Vail, but we will continue to connect through dance from a distance until we can gather again in person. We are committed to making decisions this year to protect the health and well-being of our community in the short-term while ensuring the future viability of this incredible Festival for years to come." - Sarah Johnson, Vail Valley Foundation Senior Vice President for Education & the Arts 

If you purchased tickets to the Vail Dance Festival, the following options are available:
1) DONATE - We ask that you please consider donating your ticket purchase to the Vail Dance Festival. These donations will provide operational support and help secure our future.
2) EXCHANGE - You may convert the value of your ticket(s) to a credit that can be applied to a future ticket purchase.
3) REFUND - If you wish to request a full or partial refund of your ticket purchase, please contact the Box Office directly at boxoffice@vvf.org. If we do not hear from you by July 31, a full refund will automatically be applied to your original payment.
 

For assistance with these options, please contact:
BOX OFFICE | 970.845.TIXS(8497) | boxoffice@vvf.org

 
YOUR SUPPORT MATTERS
Planning and preparation for the Festival happens throughout year, but revenue generated during the summer from donations and ticket sales makes up the majority of our annual income. In order to ensure the future of the Festival as a creative force, please consider making a donation today. Your donation, in any amount, will make a difference!
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Tiler Peck's new work Thousandth Orange in rehearsal in New York City, spring 2019, in advance of its world premiere at the 2019 Festival. Dancers: Roman Mejia, Herman Cornejo, Lauren Lovette, India Bradley, Christopher Grant, and Isabella Boylston.
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THE DANCING GOES ON
So that we can give our artists as many opportunities to break new ground as possible, incredible performances at the Festival are almost always one time only events. We are happy to share some of our memorable archives with you during this time, culminating in a digital festival during the planned July 31 - Aug 11 Festival dates.

Enjoy Carolina Shout, a premiere from the 2019 season featuring Michelle Dorrance, Jason Moran, Lil Buck, and Coco.
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Top: Tiler Peck's new work Thousandth Orange in rehearsal in New York City, spring 2019, in advance of its world premiere at the 2019 Festival. Dancers: Roman Mejia, Herman Cornejo, Lauren Lovette, India Bradley, Christopher Grant, and Isabella Boylston. Photo by: Erin Baiano. Video: Michelle Dorrance and Lil Buck perform Carolina Shout with pianist Jason Moran at the NOW: Premieres program of the 2019 Vail Dance Festival. Video by Nel Shelby Productions. Photo by Christopher Duggan. 

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Our mailing address is:
Vail Valley Foundation
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On 5/12/2020 at 1:02 AM, volcanohunter said:

A cautionary tale from Amsterdam that it isn't just a question about audiences.

This was a concert that took place on March 8th at the Concertgebouw:

https://www.concertgebouw.nl/en/concerts/amsterdams-gemengd-koor-bach-s-st-john-passion/08-03-2020

These were the consequences: a cluster of 102 infections that spread among the musicians resulted in the deaths of a 78-year-old chorister and three family members of the musicians. Apparently no one in the audience was infected. (In French)

https://amp.diapasonmag.fr/a-la-une/concert-tragique-a-amsterdam-4-morts-30195

 

Choristers are at particular risk, I understand, possibly because of the amount of air they are expelling as they sing.

Quote

After 2½ hours, the singers parted ways at 9 p.m.

Nearly three weeks later, 45 have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or ill with the symptoms, at least three have been hospitalized, and two are dead.

 

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In terms of risk to performers and audiences I think not enough is said about the fact that even survivors may be left with long term organ damage. I do worry about the fate of many arts organizations.....

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3 hours ago, dirac said:

Choristers are at particular risk, I understand, possibly because of the amount of air they are expelling as they sing.

The corps de ballet as well, I would imagine. :(

And while pianists, string players and percussionists can theoretically rehearse in masks, wind and brass players cannot. Besides which, their instruments routinely fill up with saliva, which normally they just casually empty out onto the floor.

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5 hours ago, volcanohunter said:

And while pianists, string players and percussionists can theoretically rehearse in masks, wind and brass players cannot. Besides which, their instruments routinely fill up with saliva, which normally they just casually empty out onto the floor.

This actually might mean that recorded music becomes the norm for ballet performances until an effective and widely available vaccine becomes available!

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Posted (edited)

It's worth noting that in some countries dancers are being allowed back into studios to take class.

There is the Czech model.

Quote

With the gradual easing of the measures, the Czech National Ballet company has switched to a new training system in which the dancers are divided into six groups. For one hour every day, they train in groups of 12 or 13, and this is broadcast online to other dancers who practice at home.

Czech Republic: 8,351 infections (293 deaths)
Prague: 1,915 infections (94 deaths)

As of Wednesday, the National Ballet of Ukraine is also allowing small groups of dancers to take class in masks. One of the company's principals noted that after two months of lockdown she felt exactly like Lucille Ball's ballet class sketch, but at least it was a start. However, with restrictions on public transportation still in place, many can't reach the opera house. (Olena Filipyeva, in front in the black tights and white socks, who was teaching the class, is a week short of her 50th birthday.)

Ukraine: 17,411 infections (476 deaths)
Kyiv: 2,149 infections (43 deaths)

Dancers of the Berlin State Ballet are also taking class in small groups, although the masks seem to have come off.

Germany: 174,478 infections (7,884 deaths)
Berlin: 6,397 infections (177 deaths)

Edited by volcanohunter
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SFB just posted about their Ballet Basics seminar. The way that the e-mail was worded I first thought they meant it was going to be an in-person seminar, but they will instead be changing to a Zoom format for paying participants:

"Save your spot at Ballet Basics and get the ultimate glimpse into life behind the curtain at San Francisco Ballet.

Find out where ballet has been (and where it's going), hear about what ballet class is really like, and meet SF Ballet dancers Julia Rowe and Nathaniel Remez—all from the comfort of your home on Zoom. You'll leave equipped with more tools to enjoy our weekly ballet streams as part of SF Ballet @ Home, and to enjoy future performances in the War Memorial Opera House.

It's all happening Sunday, May 24 from 2-4 pm. Tickets are $20 each."

http:// https://www.sfballet.org/productions/ballet-basics/

So they are making an effort to return to business as usual - one small step at a time.

Edited by pherank
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Also from the article about the Bolshoi above....

“The Russian government recently announced aid of 3.8 billion rubles [$50 million approx.] to support culture. Mr. Urin tells it that "everything will be fine" and that his theater has enough reserves to survive.”

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An excellent article from Dance/USA:

Leadership During Crisis: Kelly Tweeddale, Executive Director, San Francisco Ballet

https://www.danceusa.org/ejournal/2020/05/11/leadership-during-crisis-kelly-tweeddale-executive-director-san-francisco-ballet

"Looking forward, Tweeddale said, “We’ve set very clear goals for what we’re doing right now. I will say in 2008 [during the financial crisis] at other organizations, I vowed after that experience to never let the balance sheet lead the conversation, because when the balance sheet and the financial sheet lead the conversation, you lose touch with your mission. That doesn’t mean you don’t have to pay attention. There’s reality about what you can afford to do.” The question became: “How do we lead the organization through this so that we have something on the other side that is committed to the art form? It has to be more than ‘just how much money will we lose?’”

To that end, scenarios to support the dancers have been paramount. While Tweeddale noted that many arts organizations worry about how to get audiences back in theaters, “We are starting with how do we get the artists back into the studio so they can at least take company class so that they don’t lose their entire careers. We want to be ready when the time comes to create again..."

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On 5/16/2020 at 8:57 PM, Buddy said:

 

Also from the article about the Bolshoi above....

“The Russian government recently announced aid of 3.8 billion rubles [$50 million approx.] to support culture. Mr. Urin tells it that "everything will be fine" and that his theater has enough reserves to survive.”

And here, people complained that the Kennedy Center was getting relief. I have to remind people that cultural centers, performing arts, museums, public gardens, theaters, opera etc..these are major employers. And contribute greatly to the economic welfare of their cities/towns and various industries. 

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The  Joyce Theater just cancelled the engagement of the Sarasota Ballet, scheduled for August 18-23. Here's the e-mamil they just sent.

...Due to the circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, and continued uncertainty regarding public gatherings, performances of The Sarasota Ballet have been cancelled.

The Joyce is providing current ticket holders with the following options:

  1. Donate your ticket
  2. Request a refund of your ticket purchase

If we do not hear from you by the scheduled opening on August 18, we will automatically refund your tickets. If you would like to make a donation to the company you were scheduled to see, please request a refund and visit the company's website to make your contribution.

 

The Joyce Box Office phone lines are very busy at this time. For the best service, please use this ... to select your choice from the options above. We appreciate your patience in processing these requests.

In these rare and difficult times, we truly appreciate your investment in New York City’s rich arts and culture organizations. As a valued member of our Joyce family, you can understand the financial impact of these changes on our dance community at large. We ask you to consider donating your ticket as support during this time.
 

The Joyce will continue to monitor the situation as well as seek guidance and best practices from the appropriate health authorities and communicate any updates to our patrons. Please visit The Joyce website for immediate updates regarding performances.

 

Stay tuned, and thank you for your support! 

 

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The Joyce Theater Foundation, Inc. 175 Eighth Avenue, New York, NY 10011

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The Wolf Trap has officially cancelled their entire summer season. This means that in addition to the previously announced visits by the Hong Kong Ballet (Alice in Wonderland) and Riverdance, the Richmond Ballet's production of Carmina Burana has also been cancelled. Other noteworthy cancellations include a production of Eugene Onegin and a multi-media performance of The Planets with the National Symphony Orchestra.

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