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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Affects the Ballet World


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1 hour ago, Helene said:

What I mean is that if we decide not to leave the house because we're showing mild symptoms that overlap with COVID symptoms, but are not caused by COVID, although we can't be sure, I'm not sure how many of us would have to self-quarantine because we might be contagious.  And among the more hypochondriacal people -- raises hand -- if we start looking for symptoms, yikes.

Got it. So in a sense this applies right now to the other emergency physicians, and the nurses and techs and other staff I work with. If one of us has symptoms that might be COVID we need to stay home until we've been tested and ruled out or recovered. You might think that would keep too many people out of work, but in practice at 50 I'm the oldest person working this shift in the ER today, the vast majority of people my age and younger don't have such symptoms most days and it's pretty rare that people call out sick. Winter might be different of course. I've had about ten of my friends who are also ER docs get COVID. A few of them were flattened for a couple of weeks, others had milder illnesses, one of my friends died (she was widely reported in the news). But for most people it's pretty clear - if you have some combination of fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, body aches, loss of smell, diarrhea - stay home, get tested. Thank goodness I didn't get it myself, or if I did I had a very mild illness.

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I have the privilege of doing the same.  Not everyone does, and with schools planning to open, that leaves a lot more people without the privilege to stay home.

Edited to add: I hit send before I saw your reply, @pbl, and before I didn't type what was in my thoughts, which was trying to stay out of your ER, @pbl and add to a system that is overburdened.

While some people might be in denial at obvious symptoms and/or feel they can't stay home regardless what I was obsessing about thinking of were those symptoms that are really mild and isolated at first, when a person is still contagious, but before they even thought of themselves as a danger.

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On 7/8/2020 at 4:03 AM, Mashinka said:

Right now money to keep venues open is the priority.   We are told there is no possibility of theatres opening this year.  However with outdoor activities being approved of I'm surprised no one has shown any initiative to stage outside performances.  Not ideal of course but with stewards to maintain social distancing it is actually a possibility.  Might even bring in the so badly needed fresh audiences. 

BBC News

“The Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has announced that outdoor theatres and music venues will be able to re-open.”

https://www.bbc.com/news/av/uk-53356040/culture-secretary-support-the-places-we-all-love

(thanks to Ian Macmillan at BalletcoForum)

 

Here are UK updated guidelines.

“Performing arts”

“Guidance for people who work in performing arts, including arts organisations, venue operators and participants.”

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/performing-arts#arts-5-2

(thanks to Ian Macmillan at BalletcoForum)

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On 7/9/2020 at 8:55 AM, Mashinka said:

Having done a lot of reading during lockdown I can't help thinking that if someone of the calibre of Mona Inglesby was around today, a way would be found to get those dancers stuck at home onto some sort of stage. 

Mashinka, could you share what reading you have been doing that relates to dance? I am unfamiliar with Mona Inglesby and would be interested in knowing more. 

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On 7/9/2020 at 7:39 AM, nanushka said:

Well, there are certainly numerous diseases that do act like that. For obvious reasons, asymptomatic spread gives a virus an evolutionary advantage.

Is there strong evidence that diseases similar to SARS-CoV-2 do not act like that? This particular virus may be new, with relatively few studies (or even "studies"), but it's part of a group of related viruses that have been studied more broadly.

Of the recent Coronaviruses, SARS and MERS have higher fatality rates than Covid-19, but Covid-19's infection rate is much higher than that of SARS or MERS. Which makes Covid-19 "perfect" for creating a truly world-wide pandemic: a virus that appears "mild" much of the time within the population is really difficult to control, precisely because it is less obvious (the disease doesn't telegraph it's presence with distinct, conspicuous symptoms as compared to a disease like Small Pox). So, in a sense, the apparently milder virus known as Covid-19 stands a better chance of survival than its coronavirus cousins, and will easily surpass their total fatality numbers because it appears to hang around within the human and animal populations so effectively.

People are mostly worried about fatality rates, though with Covid-19 there's increasing evidence of lingering issues with 'recovered' patients. [Note that statistics on these diseases vary depending on who is supplying the information.] Here are some statistics on the Coronaviruses taken mainly from Medical News Today website and the Johns Hopkins Covid-19 database:

SARS:

    Total number of [known] cases: 8,439, 21% of which developed in healthcare workers
    Number of cases in the United States: 73
    Total number of deaths: 812
    Case fatality rate: 9.6%

MERS:

    Total number of [known] cases: 2,519
    Number of cases in the U.S.: 2
    Total number of deaths: 866
    Case fatality rate: 34.3%

COVID-19, as of July 10, 2020:

    Total number of cases: 12,389,660
    Number of cases in the U.S.: 3,169,611
    Total number of deaths: 557,279
    Case fatality rate: varies greatly by region. Currently 18.94% in France; 16.4% in Belgium; 14.44% in Italy; 14.13% in UK; 5.58% in the USA; 0.55% in Iceland; 0.06% in Singapore

https://www.cebm.net/covid-19/global-covid-19-case-fatality-rates/

"As of July 9, 2020, the case fatality rate (CFR) of coronavirus COVID-19 ranged at 5.46 percent in China, higher than the global level of 4.57 percent. Health authorities in Wuhan, the Chinese epicenter, revised its death toll on April 17, adding some 1,290 fatalities to its total count. The 50 percent increase of death cases in the city raised the overall CFR in China from 4.01 percent to 5.54 percent. The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that mortality increased with age among infected patients."
--Published by Lai Lin Thomala, Jul 9, 2020

"As of July 5, 2020, it was estimated that the case fatality rate for COVID-19 in Italy was around 14.4 percent. Case fatality rates are calculated by dividing the number of confirmed deaths by the number of confirmed cases. It is important to understand that the case fatality rate is not a good measure of the mortality risk of COVID-19. For a variety of reasons the case fatality rate varies over time and from country to country. Case fatality rates need to be interepreted with caution, especially when the total number of cases is not known, as is the current case with the COVID-19 pandemic."
--Published by John Elflein, Jul 6, 2020

 

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13 hours ago, cobweb said:

Mashinka, could you share what reading you have been doing that relates to dance? I am unfamiliar with Mona Inglesby and would be interested in knowing more. 

Ballet in the Blitz:  The Story of a Ballet Company by Mona Inglesby with Kay Hunter.  Published in 2008 by Groundnut Publishing.   ISBN No.978-0-9527141-7-0

Apart from oblique references to the International Ballet, I knew little about it before reading this book,  Quite a few famous names among former teachers and dancers, including Moira Shearer and Maurice Bejart.  Of great significance was Ms Inglesby's close collaboration with Nikolai Sergeyev, in fact it was she who passed his notations on to Harvard.

That such a successful company was refused even a modest request for public funds remains inexplicable

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1 hour ago, Mashinka said:

Ballet in the Blitz:  The Story of a Ballet Company by Mona Inglesby with Kay Hunter.  Published in 2008 by Groundnut Publishing.   ISBN No.978-0-9527141-7-0

Apart from oblique references to the International Ballet, I knew little about it before reading this book,  Quite a few famous names among former teachers and dancers, including Moira Shearer and Maurice Bejart.  Of great significance was Ms Inglesby's close collaboration with Nikolai Sergeyev, in fact it was she who passed his notations on to Harvard.

That such a successful company was refused even a modest request for public funds remains inexplicable

I confess that I never heard of this company. Their Wikipedia entry also reports denial of public funding: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Ballet

I wonder if the book includes any explanation. There might or might not be good reasons for the denial. Regardless, I'm curious if we know what they were told at the time for the denial.

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Julie Kent just announced on Instagram that she tested positive for Covid-19 two weeks ago. She doesn't say how she got it, if she knows. Specifically, she does not accuse the socialite hostess who was at their studios the night of their virtual gala, reported in the Washington Post as positive.  Here's the Post story on the gala June 18: https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/the-virus-didnt-stop-a-washington-socialite-from-throwing-a-backyard-soiree-then-the-tests-came-back-positive/2020/07/01/841041ba-ba19-11ea-bdaf-a129f921026f_story.html

 

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51 minutes ago, California said:

Julie Kent just announced on Instagram that she tested positive for Covid-19 two weeks ago. She doesn't say how she got it, if she knows. Specifically, she does not accuse the socialite hostess who was at their studios the night of their virtual gala, reported in the Washington Post as positive.

I think it would be extraordinarily inappropriate if Kent were to make such an accusation, at least publicly. It is unlikely that she could "know" where she got it. Even if one has been obviously exposed on a particular occasion, there will almost always have been other possible exposures that occurred in the period when the virus was contracted.

If Bronczek was irresponsible in hosting the event, so too was anyone who chose to attend.

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Here are a couple more articles on how the United Kingdom is dealing with all this. Thanks to Ian Macmillan at BalletcoForum.

 

Looking ahead to a return to dance classes

http://www.seeingdance.com/return-to-dance-classes-1-09072020/

 

Ten UK Ballet Schools Unite In Auditions For September 2021 Entry

https://www.broadwayworld.com/uk-regional/article/Ten-UK-Ballet-Schools-Unite-In-Auditions-For-September-2021-Entry-20200710

 

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3 hours ago, nanushka said:

I think it would be extraordinarily inappropriate if Kent were to make such an accusation, at least publicly. It is unlikely that she could "know" where she got it. Even if one has been obviously exposed on a particular occasion, there will almost always have been other possible exposures that occurred in the period when the virus was contracted.

If Bronczek was irresponsible in hosting the event, so too was anyone who chose to attend.

I agree completely. I can't imagine a public figure making a public accusation of where they think they caught the virus. But this kind of thing is rampant on social media: "I took every precaution, then went to a barbeque/birthday party/rally/whatever and caught it."  The general public has a very limited understanding of the difference between causation and correlation. Think of the legal quagmire if/when people try suing a business/restaurant/performance for supposedly exposing them to COVID? How would you ever prove where you got it? How would the establishment defend themselves?

I watched that virtual gala live and remember wondering: did they figure out how to test everybody right beforehand and get immediate results? Probably not! If professional sports teams are having problems figuring this out, with all their resources, I'm increasingly  pessimistic about live theater performances for the foreseeable future.  And I suspect other companies that were thinking of trying the same thing as Washington Ballet will be much more hesitant of taking the risk.

EDITED TO ADD: Story from the Washington Post, just posted. Note that at least three ballet company "employees" also got sick after the gala:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/theater_dance/washington-ballet-director-julie-kent-says-she-is-recovering-from-covid-19/2020/07/11/c007c96e-c391-11ea-9fdd-b7ac6b051dc8_story.html

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On a slightly different tack: data on which US businesses and non-profits received Payroll Protection Program (PPP) Loans is now publicly available and ready for review and analysis. (This is why there's been a sudden flurry of "PPP Shaming" in the press and on social media. Whether it was appropriate for certain kinds of businesses and non-profits to receive PPP funds and whether they should be shamed for it is certainly worth of debate, but I'm not going to go into that here.)

Propublica has put together a very nice tool to search for loans over $150,000. You can search by organization name, lender, zip code and business type. If you want to see which ballet companies received loans over $150K, you can start by typing "ballet" into the search field. If the company's name contains "ballet" and if it received a loan over $150,000, its name should show up on the list. 

By way of example, here's the result for PNB:

PACIFIC NORTHWEST BALLET ASSOCIATION
Loan Amount $2-5 million
Location Seattle, WA
Industry Dance Companies
Business Type Non-Profit Organization
Jobs Retained 264
Lender U.S. Bank, National Association
Date Approved April 13, 2020

Looking for loans UNDER $150,000 is a more challenging task. You can download a CSV file for recipients of loans under $150K by state from the Small Business Administration, but the files are huge. Depending on the computing resources available to you, it might take a long time to download, open, and parse the file for the states you're interested in.

Have fun!

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11 minutes ago, Kathleen O'Connell said:

On a slightly different tack: data on which US businesses and non-profits received Payroll Protection Program (PPP) Loans is now publicly available and ready for review and analysis. (This is why there's been a sudden flurry of "PPP Shaming" in the press and on social media. Whether it was appropriate for certain kinds of businesses and non-profits to receive PPP funds and whether they should be shamed for it is certainly worth of debate, but I'm not going to go into that here.)

Thank you! I must say: I think this is a very good use of my tax money!

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4 hours ago, California said:

I confess that I never heard of this company. Their Wikipedia entry also reports denial of public funding: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Ballet

I wonder if the book includes any explanation. There might or might not be good reasons for the denial. Regardless, I'm curious if we know what they were told at the time for the denial.

There is no explanation given.  I have asked a ballet researcher who knew a former company member and it seems a powerful personality in the ballet world opposed the grant.  After all the years that have passed it would be difficult to prove if that is true or not, but what I was told left a very bad taste.

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20 hours ago, Kathleen O'Connell said:

Propublica has put together a very nice tool to search for loans over $150,000. You can search by organization name, lender, zip code and business type. If you want to see which ballet companies received loans over $150K, you can start by typing "ballet" into the search field. If the company's name contains "ballet" and if it received a loan over $150,000, its name should show up on the list. 

My favorite is Master Chang's Tiger Den Martial Arts and Ballet

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1 hour ago, YouOverThere said:

My favorite is Master Chang's Tiger Den Martial Arts and Ballet

So, of course I had to google them. I watched their little video, which promises "Strength, Discipline, Agility, Friendship" — that and a wall of mirrors would seem to accommodate both a dojo and a ballet studio. Alas, there's no ballet in evidence on their website.

 

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It seems to me that the media (and related group think) are doing what they do during epidemics-- make a "news story" out of people who are infected.  This further stigmatizes the illness.  I find that really damaging to the ballet world.

It's kind of sad that the chief critici for WaPo can only think to drone on and on about Julie Kent. Clearly a slow news year in dance. 

Furthermore, people in all walks of life, in all professions have contracted this disease and dance is no different. If we dramatize and decide that the standard in dance is no dancers infected ever, then we really do endanger the future of dance with group think. Acknowledge the risks, give dancers some choices about their return, and then let "Early adopters" move forward. 

Other sports are doing so. 

The purpose of controlling this spread is to prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed. As a group, dancers are pretty healthy.  Few are morbidly obese, few are hypertensive, few have respitatory issues (though this might be a higher risk.)

And, if you are going to mention that study in South Korea about dancers, do remember that it was 37 dancers (a very small sample in my field) and that, when distanced the risk was not high. 

 

 

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15 hours ago, balletforme said:

It seems to me that the media (and related group think) are doing what they do during epidemics-- make a "news story" out of people who are infected.  This further stigmatizes the illness.

Moe than forty thousand people in Britain have died of the virus, what do you expect the media to do?  Brush the story under the carpet?  There is no stigma attached to illness.  In the beginning it was bad luck if you caught it, being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Now it can be avoided by social distancing and wearing PPE - to catch it now is an own goal.

Frankly right now I'm more concerned about the consequences of the national debt and mass unemployment than when or even if I can watch ballet again.

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And, well, ballet dancers are part of that group of mass unemployed people?  Right?  They are actually people. While they make it possible for audiences to watch ballet, they, themselves, are also suffering from unemployment.  

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5 hours ago, Mashinka said:

There is no stigma attached to illness. 

reads to me to be the opposite of 

5 hours ago, Mashinka said:

to catch it now is an own goal.

The current science talks about prolonged and cumulative exposure, mostly indoors, to be the great risk, and while PPE is great;u effective, like condoms, are not 100% effective.  Those who are considered "essential workers" are at risk, whether or not they can social distance.

48 minutes ago, balletforme said:

And, well, ballet dancers are part of that group of mass unemployed people?  Right?

A very tiny percentage of those who are unemployed.  If you put al performers who make a living from it together, they are still a tiny percentage of those who are unemployed.  That doesn't make it any less painful for performers, but their plight alone is not going to drive social policy.  The pressure is less from them than from audience.

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