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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Affects the Ballet World


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14 minutes ago, nanushka said:

I'm not sure I understand #1. How does a summer of getting outside make opera in the theater more feasible?

Many people are stir-crazy, and there's a possibility that a summer of relative movement and freedom will result into more voluntary withdrawal when the weather breaks.  Or there could be an earlier spike, in which case, based on Cuomo's recent actions, the re-opening plans will be back-tracked, and restrictions will be re-instated.  Met can make a decision earlier than waiting for the results of a second spike, when rehearsals would already have begun.  

 

14 minutes ago, nanushka said:

#3 would seem to mean that only singers/choristers who have had COVID-19 could continue with their professional careers — which, as @YouOverThere suggests, is highly problematic.

Having anti-bodies are not limited to people who have been identifiably symptomatic: many who have them never knew they were exposed.  But, yes, the selection process will be limited and selected for on-site work, and I don't expect this will be any different for many professions where working from home isn't possible, as opposed to being again company policy.

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5 minutes ago, Helene said:

Having anti-bodies are not limited to people who have been identifiably symptomatic: many who have them never knew they were exposed.

Right, definitely. I shouldn't have written "who have had COVID-19" since that's the illness; I should've written "who have had the virus."

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There is something referred to as the group mind, which often yields 'groupthink' in a particular society: "the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome" (definition coming from Wikipedia). American society is fast reaching some of the following conclusions:

  • Covid-19 is mainly a problem for 'special cases' such as the chronically ill and elderly.
  • Diseases tend to be harder on those special cases, and we're used to that.
  • This society doesn't really function well without everyone working, making money, exchanging currency, investing, asking for credit and paying back the loans and all that good Capitalist stuff.

And those conclusions are fast leading to the decision that:
Life must get back to the way it was - with some adjustments to keep from spreading the virus about so much, but it's a "free" country (whatever that is) so if some people are going to insist on not observing CDC and local healthcare guidelines, then there's not much that can be done about it besides possible litigation on an individual basis.

On the positive side, that could mean that performance arts organizations do get back up and running in a relatively normal fashion, sooner rather than later. But attending any large group gathering brings with it real risk of contracting or spreading the virus. It's going to be dicey for the older audience members for some time, and that's going to have a big effect on the ballet, opera and symphony worlds.

Enjoy your summer!

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1 hour ago, pherank said:

It's going to be dicey for the older audience members for some time, and that's going to have a big effect on the ballet, opera and symphony worlds.

For all three of those, though, I think the greater challenge won't be the audience (who, as @Helene pointed out above, can potentially see and hear performances remotely) but the performers. Singers, dancers and wind players all expel a lot of air, and generally rehearse and perform in close contact with one another. All three groups will likely be very hesitant to put themselves in much danger of contracting a respiratory illness — which for professional opera singers, especially, could quite possibly be career ending (not to mention life threatening). Many of the latter have likely been extremely careful over the past few months (to the extent their personal circumstances allow), and so getting a sufficient number of them who are immune and can put on a series of performances at the Met seems like a tricky task.

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11 minutes ago, nanushka said:

For all three of those, though, I think the greater challenge won't be the audience (who, as @Helene pointed out above, can potentially see and hear performances remotely) but the performers. Singers, dancers and wind players all expel a lot of air, and generally rehearse and perform in close contact with one another. All three groups will likely be very hesitant to put themselves in much danger of contracting a respiratory illness — which for professional opera singers, especially, could quite possibly be career ending (not to mention life threatening). Many of the latter have likely been extremely careful over the past few months (to the extent their personal circumstances allow), and so getting a sufficient number of them who are immune and can put on a series of performances at the Met seems like a tricky task.

The actions of the performing artists have been mostly exemplary. But I think society is going to decide for them to "get on with it". Do what you can, but if the mask is in the way, don't use it at those times. Dancers and singers can't perform with masks on (especially the kind that are worth a darn). We may go through a period where we see only the young performers who are willing to take the risk appearing on stage. And hopefully, the absence of older performers with more health issues/risks won't be held against that group.

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Posted (edited)
16 minutes ago, pherank said:

The actions of the performing artists have been mostly exemplary. But I think society is going to decide for them to "get on with it".

I'm curious how exactly the pressure arising from that decision might play out — in the cases of arts audiences in particular.

I'm also not so sure public opinion is actually as far ahead as some politicians and protesting citizens on the push for life to "get back to the way it was." Certainly there's beginning to be more of a push; but there are a lot of potential stages between where we are now and "the way it was."

Edited by nanushka
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Posted (edited)

Was tonight's Lincoln Center Dance Week program pulled (Tribute to Balanchine)? I just looked at the website and I don't see the program listed anymore.

 

Edited by FPF
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3 minutes ago, FPF said:

Was tonight's Lincoln Center Dance Week program pulled (Tribute to Balanchine)? I just looked at the website and I don't see the program listed anymore.

 

Same question! I'm not finding it.

 

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4 minutes ago, California said:

Same question! I'm not finding it.

 

I've checked the YouTube channel and Facebook page and I don't see it in either place.

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14 minutes ago, nanushka said:

I'm curious how exactly the pressure arising from that decision might play out — in the cases of arts audiences in particular.

I'm also not so sure public opinion is actually as far ahead as some politicians and protesting citizens on the push for life to "get back to the way it was." Certainly there's beginning to be more of a push; but there are a lot of potential stages between where we are now and "the way it was."

"Stages" are for authorities and bureaucrats.  ;)

My observations of the "Teen through 40 Years of Age" crowd is that they are ready and willing to get on with things, and are basically doing that.

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Just now, FPF said:

I've checked the YouTube channel and Facebook page and I don't see it in either place.

That's a shame, but hopefully they are just rescheduling out of respect for this week of organized protests.

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3 minutes ago, pherank said:

"Stages" are for authorities and bureaucrats.  😉

I guess. But also, potentially, for those who are analyzing societal shifts (if their social theories don't prohibit describing change in stages).

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Posted (edited)

I think that Lincoln Center Dance Week is largely being "Blackedout."  Good thing. 

This may interest some: https://www.aclu.org/news/privacy-technology/coronavirus-immunity-passports-are-not-the-answer/T

The US is this crazy, crazy country built on the notion of freedom and that has both benefits and costs. But, on balance, at least for me, the benefits far outweigh the costs. I can weigh risks and benefits myself and don't need the government to figure that out for me. I am a free adult. 

Edited by balletforme
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Every day I've been reading a new 2020-21 season announcement coming from Europe.  

Edited to add:  Seattle Opera just moved out its Songs of Summer Recital from tomorrow night to later (TBD).

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1 hour ago, nanushka said:

I guess. But also, potentially, for those who are analyzing societal shifts (if their social theories don't prohibit describing change in stages).

I'm just making a joke, of course, and I'm OK with anyone trying to make sense of it all. But the people in the street (literally in the street right now) are all making their own choices, and I would say compliance with regulations has not been foremost in people's minds. In my part of the world, the rush to get back outdoors, and drive around the county or even the city has overshadowed everything, except for maybe the marches (and fires/looting). And even those haven't stopped people from reopening businesses or just going to the beach again. The stages were simply a failure where I live, because so much anger and stress had built up that officials were getting constant flak. Things just had to change or widespread civil unrest was coming fast. I think that's a big reason why the George Floyd tragedy seemed to explode instantaneously all across the nation - people were already at the bursting point, and it only took a single, horrific event to ignite things.

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9 hours ago, pherank said:

I'm just making a joke, of course, and I'm OK with anyone trying to make sense of it all. But the people in the street (literally in the street right now) are all making their own choices, and I would say compliance with regulations has not been foremost in people's minds. In my part of the world, the rush to get back outdoors, and drive around the county or even the city has overshadowed everything, except for maybe the marches (and fires/looting). And even those haven't stopped people from reopening businesses or just going to the beach again. The stages were simply a failure where I live, because so much anger and stress had built up that officials were getting constant flak. Things just had to change or widespread civil unrest was coming fast. I think that's a big reason why the George Floyd tragedy seemed to explode instantaneously all across the nation - people were already at the bursting point, and it only took a single, horrific event to ignite things.

I'm not talking about regulations, though. (Perhaps my use of the word "stages" has been confusing; I was not referring to, e.g., the CDC's "stages" or "phases" of reopening.) I'm talking about (non-anecdotal) patterns of social behavior and of broad institutional and industry-wide (in the arts — and most specifically at the Met) adaptations — and about what's likely to happen with those as all things continue to develop over the next 6-12 months, not about what's happened with them over the past 4-8 weeks.

Edited by nanushka
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Posted (edited)

I hadn't actually read the AP's article on the Met's plans, but now that I have I see that Peter Gelb offers quite a significant qualification:

Quote

“Based upon the discussions I’ve had with various health authorities here locally in New York, some of them believe that there will be a medical solution by then. If there isn’t, we won’t open. But if we didn’t open on Dec. 31, it would not be mean that we wouldn’t open at all next season.”

This is much more in line with what I think is actually feasible and realistic: live performances (of opera at the Met, at least) are likely dependent on significantly better treatment options than now exist.

More on why:

Quote

“Social distancing and grand opera do not mix,” Met general manager Peter Gelb said. “It is impossible to follow these social distancing guidelines that are in effect and presumably will be in effect certainly through the summer and into the early fall to have an orchestra situated in the pit, to have a chorus and dancers and singers in close contact with each other on the stage, to have costume, wardrobe, makeup people working intensely.”

 

Edited by nanushka
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Posted (edited)

The Vienna State Opera is once again performing for small, physically distanced audiences. Yesterday, Günther Groissböck gave a solo recital at the theater, and today the theater's ensemble members performed selections from Mozart operas, with piano accompaniment, of course. The audiences were understandably enthusiastic.

Last week the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra streamed its first post-lockdown performance, albeit without an audience.

 

 

Edited by volcanohunter
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I saw the Groissbock concert, and while I saw distancing, was surprised not to see a fully masked audience.  I don't know how they managed getting people in and out of the theater.

He was wonderful, and I'm glad he sang Wotan's Farewell as an encore, given that his debut at Bayreuth has been postponed.

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5 hours ago, Helene said:

I don't know how they managed getting people in and out of the theater.

I imagine getting them out would be more of an issue. For example, when the ensemble took their final bows together, and there were some 20 people on stage, spacing the singers out was not really a problem. But when they exited the stage, there was some bottlenecking. 

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I noticed that two of the men defaulted to letting-the-women-exit-first behavior when they tried to leave through the stage right wings.  It's so ingrained.

At the end of the concert, it look liked people just got up and walked toward the aisle like they always did.  They weren't tring to orchestrate a row-by-row exit through different doors, as far as I could see.

The acoustics with so few must be very similar to what's it's like to audition in a hall like that.  

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Part of the problem was that the performance wasn't taking place on the stage proper, but on top of the orchestra pit. The only way to reach it is via steep, narrow stairs on either side, and I'm sure it isn't easy to negotiate them in a gown and heels.

No bar service and no intermission are givens. What if it had been raining and the audience had come in full rain gear? What happens when the weather turns colder and everyone is wearing a coat? In my experience, apart from the hall itself, the post-show cloak room is the most crowded portion of the evening. Will Europeans now sit on their outerwear like Americans?

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