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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Affects the Ballet World


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Back to ballet for a second.

Marianela Nunez — A brief and lovely performance.

Outdoors and safely distanced. One step at a time is perhaps one very good way to go.

(Thanks to  Jan McNulty at BalletcoForum)

Edited by Buddy
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One of my favorite sports podcasts is taking a summer break and has been "broadcasting" podcasts by people who have been their guests.

This week's is a No Challenges Remaining podcast in which hosts Courtney Nguyen and Ben Rothenberg interview former WTA player Sandra Zaniewska, who is now one of the few women coaching top tennis players.

https://nochallengesremaining.podbean.com/e/episode-259-sandra-zaniewska/

Much of the conversation is about the impact of COVID-19 on the tour and on her players, and at about the 29'22"  mark is asked about the toughest thing for pro tennis players to deal with right now, and while the training questions might be different for ballet dancers, she discusses the issues of identity and the "what is next?" question that is now at the fore,and even when there is a restart, how different the circumstances of competing/performing will be.  She goes on to speak about transitioning out of playing after she retired after suffering from a series of injuries.

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Thanks, Helene.

One recent statement remains strongly in my mind.

“Art is more powerful than fear.”

(Olga Smirnova — New York Times article cited above)

In March I traveled from California to St. Petersburg hoping to see about three weeks of ballet. I came back after several days because the theatres closed along with many other places. I did get to see two performances of Swan Lake and had a nice time getting there. Would I have done it if I knew that this would happen. Yes.

Would I consider going again in the near future if I thought that it might be reasonably safe for everyone. Yes.

 

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The NHL bubble is nearly a month old. AP reports on life inside.

Quote

The hotels might be posh, their amenities and service first rate, and yet life inside the NHL's two playoff bubbles isn't exactly glamorous...

The potential for NHL bubble fatigue is real.

The close confines, daily COVID-19 testing, lack of freedom to venture beyond the security fences surrounding hotels and arenas in Edmonton and Toronto, and the separation from family can weigh heavily on everyone. Teams have access to outdoor stadiums in both cities, and the NHL has also arranged golf outings on off days, in which players are bused to and from the facilities with no access to those outside the bubble.

“It's hard when you're in that type of environment because it's almost like you're in prison,” said Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman after Chicago was eliminated by Colorado in five games in the first round.

“When the pandemic hit, you could still leave your house, you could walk outside and get some fresh air,” Bowman added. “But here, I think it's the mental toll that you're kind of trapped. You can't go anywhere. And over time, it does start to get to you.”

https://edmonton.ctvnews.ca/bubble-fatigue-cited-as-mental-challenge-during-nhl-playoffs-1.5076478

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Thanks, Volcanohunter.

The Mariinsky continues opera performances through August with checkerboard spaced seating.

http://www.mariinsky.ru/en/playbill/playbill/

Full scale ballet performances are scheduled to resume September 17 after what would be, I believe, its normal vacation break. As a surprise to me, there will be no spacing between seats in any of the Mariinsky’s St. Petersburg theaters.

http://www.mariinsky.ru/en/playbill/nextplaybill/?type=ballet

(Thanks to Sophia at Dansomanie for calling attention to the performance schedules)

Edited by Buddy
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For the moment I'm unable to edit my posts, so I'll post separately. The second post above is a slightly more complete version of the first.

In regard to seating, the Bolshoi, which resumes performances in September, is using two seats together, then a space, seating.

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1 minute ago, Buddy said:

For the moment I'm unable to edit my posts, so I'll post separately

Do you see see three horizontal dots to the right hand side of the post box, directly across from you username in the posts?

If so, if you click the three dots, is "Edit" one of the options, along with "Report" and "Share"?

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6 minutes ago, Helene said:

Do you see see three horizontal dots to the right hand side of the post box, directly across from you username in the posts?

If so, if you click the three dots, is "Edit" one of the options, along with "Report" and "Share"?

Thanks, Helene.

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Whew -- it's one of the things on the UI they changed with the upgrade, and I was hoping they didn't change the settings behind them, too.

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Part of an e-mail sent to the SFB community today:

'San Francisco Ballet regretfully announces there will be no live performances of Nutcracker this year. The Company's decision comes in the wake of continued restrictions posed by COVID-19 pandemic and closure of the War Memorial and Performing Arts Center to audiences through December 31, 2020. This doesn't mean that Nutcracker won't be part of your holidays—with your help, we can imagine other Nutcracker offerings and activities to keep this tradition alive. 

"Nutcracker is a tradition that I look forward to each year," says Artistic Director and Principal Choreographer Helgi Tomasson. "Even though we will not be able to experience Nutcracker in person this year due to the health crisis, I know San Francisco Ballet will be a part of the Bay Area’s holiday tradition, maybe digitally or through other creative avenues. Perhaps all of this will make our reunion next year all the more special." 

Executive Director Kelly Tweeddale says, "San Francisco Ballet experienced a record number of people—over one and a half million—streaming and accessing content as part of the SF Ballet @ Home platform created shortly after the San Francisco shelter-in-place order closed our performance venue.  We are exploring options and working with our artists and our digital archives to see what might be possible. Being able to continue the Nutcracker tradition, especially in a digital environment, would be an apt reflection of our community."'

There was also an audience survey attached to the e-mail asking some questions around presentation of a digital Nutcracker.

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NYCB ballet dancers are collecting unemployment (those who can.)  Not foreign dancers. That's verified through numerous Instgram posts. They are not being offered any classes through the company.  Th

What a sad company.  They have the HIGHEST budget of ANY ballet company in the US (89 Million in 2018) and yet companies with less money are paying their dancers, using relief funds to give them classes, performing in small works and chamber pieces (SFB, MCB, PNB).  

They do not care about their dancers or do not have the will or the way to raise a decent fund. (Yet these other companies can.) 

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balletforme said:

 

NYCB ballet dancers are collecting unemployment (those who can.)  Not foreign dancers. That's verified through numerous Instgram posts. They are not being offered any classes through the company.  Th

What a sad company.  They have the HIGHEST budget of ANY ballet company in the US (89 Million in 2018) and yet companies with less money are paying their dancers, using relief funds to give them classes, performing in small works and chamber pieces (SFB, MCB, PNB). 

 

I don't think this is completely correct.  I recall reading in March, when the spring season was canceled, that NYCB planned to pay its dancers through the end of May when the spring season would have finished.  Some dancers may be getting unemployment now.  You mention other companies, however, the rate of infection in those cities was/is not as high as it was in NY, therefore it wasn't possible to present small works.  Are you saying the companies you cite are still paying their dancers?

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27 minutes ago, Marta said:

I don't think this is completely correct.  I recall reading in March, when the spring season was canceled, that NYCB planned to pay its dancers through the end of May when the spring season would have finished.  Some dancers may be getting unemployment now.  You mention other companies, however, the rate of infection in those cities was/is not as high as it was in NY, therefore it wasn't possible to present small works.  Are you saying the companies you cite are still paying their dancers?

SFB is still paying dancers and musicians due to the Relief Fund raising over 5 million so far. But the need to continue to raise funds is ever present. I thought PNB had furloughed dancers, but Helene would know the latest on that situation.

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I don't know the details about through when the dancers were paid, with the season ending in March instead of June.  While two tours were planned and cancelled for this summer, the Company doesn't every year, and it's not guaranteed.

The PNB website has a Future Fund page, which reads in part:

While our operations and earning potential have been severely limited by the widespread impacts of Covid-19, we are proud to be using the resources we do have to accomplish the following:

  • Employ dancers and artists (safely) in the creation of new work and the revival of favorites.
  • Move PNB School studios online to continue educating more than 1,000? ballet students.
  • Retain a reduced staff to keep our business moving forward.
  • Bring PNB to fans here.

I don't remember whether it was PNB or Seattle Opera that had received a donation specifically to be able to extend health insurance to company and staff for an extra couple of months.

PNB dancers who are comfortable coming back into the studio are working under restricted conditions.  They have already recorded safe material from the stage that was streamed for the Sun Valley festival and have planned an all-digital season, with pandemic-friendly programming through the Fall and some kind of special Nutcracker film.  The schedule for 2021 included standard rep, including the full-lengths Romeo et Juliette and Coppelia.  Performing these live for streaming, of course, and not archival films or socially-distanced excerpts will depend on the state of the coronavirus.  

I don't know what the relative operating budgets or endowments are for various companies.  PNB is a renter of McCaw Hall, which is owned by the City of Seattle, which can forgive rent, but I'm not sure if they have.  The number of dancers, especially at the expensive top of the roster, is a lot lower than NYCB's or SBF's.   PNB does not have a substantial endowment.  The Company has always cited ticket sales as being a very high percentage of the budget compared to donations, although there is a required donation for the best subscription seats, instituted when the retrofitted and refurbished Opera House was re-launched as McCawl Hall, and this was highly controversial at the time.

I'm not exactly sure how to measure whether or not there is care.  Care by whom?  The Administration, whose coffers might be dry?  The Board, for not writing big checks?  Both for not using the endowment? Do NYCB dancers typically collect unemployment over the summer in a normal year, suspending the claim during employment for Saratoga and then continuing the claim until Fall season rehearsals start?

For many years, there was a magic number of weeks that allowed dancer company members in NYC to collect unemployment, and it was no secret that dancers filed for unemployment each year, until the 40 or whatever guaranteed weeks of paid rehearsal and performance began.  I don't know what their situation is now.

 

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2 hours ago, Helene said:

For many years, there was a magic number of weeks that allowed dancer company members in NYC to collect unemployment, and it was no secret that dancers filed for unemployment each year, until the 40 or whatever guaranteed weeks of paid rehearsal and performance began.  I don't know what their situation is now.

That's a good point. I do remember hearing that about NYCB in particular.

The original notice from PNB about how furloughs would work was announced around April 1st:
https://www.seattletimes.com/entertainment/dance/pacific-northwest-ballet-furloughs-all-dancers-musicians-and-many-on-staff-due-to-coronavirus-pandemic/

Edited by pherank
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I am concerned for the schools attached to companies. Most seem to be offering classes virtually for the fall, in accordance with health ordinances. Unfortunately many other ballet studios are ignoring the rules and holding in person classes. My daughter’s studio is not only losing money while they are closed, but losing students as well. I’m not sure if the same situation is playing out everywhere, but knowing the competitive nature of many ballet students (and their parents), I imagine that it is.

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Dance Edit's newsletter today led with a link to survey results published by TRG Arts about optimism and plans by arts organizations in the US for in-person performs.  The surveys were performed over time and over an expanded number of organizations surveyed:

https://trgarts.com/blog/arts-culture-planning-2020-comeback-sep.html?utm_source=The+Dance+Edit&utm_campaign=972d5be06a-TheDanceEdit20200917&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_71d672be74-972d5be06a-69902614

Needless to say, the results aren't encouraging.

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3 hours ago, Helene said:

Dance Edit's newsletter today led with a link to survey results published by TRG Arts about optimism and plans by arts organizations in the US for in-person performs.  The surveys were performed over time and over an expanded number of organizations surveyed:

https://trgarts.com/blog/arts-culture-planning-2020-comeback-sep.html?utm_source=The+Dance+Edit&utm_campaign=972d5be06a-TheDanceEdit20200917&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_71d672be74-972d5be06a-69902614

Needless to say, the results aren't encouraging.

Interesting though. Gauging "optimism" is only so useful. What the companies need are helpful options. So these items would be most relevant -

COVID-19 International Sector Benchmark is a free resource which studies live transactional data from across the globe. It allows you to compare your organization's patron purchase trends to geographic-specific benchmarks to support your recovery planning in short to medium-term. Over 400 participating organizations are learning how their recovery compares to other similar organizations.

https://trgarts.com/benchmark


The COVID-19 Loyalty Planning Clinic is a 2-day remote session to support the joint efforts of your marketing and development staff in keeping patrons engaged. [EXPENSIVE]

https://trgarts.com/bespoke-consulting?product=covid-19-recovery-clinic

But on the same page there are two FREE webinars -

Watch Back: Insights, Tips, and Provocations for Patron Engagement During COVID

Two 90-minute webinars which share learnings, tactics and tips for meeting the urgency of today and the new normal challenges of tomorrow.

Selling consultation services to people who don't have money coming in does seem rather "optimistic".   😉

Edited by pherank
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The Royal Opera and Royal Ballet have announced an Autumn/Christmas schedule (including a slightly revised 'Nutcracker') of live events within a socially distanced regime:

https://www.roh.org.uk/news/the-royal-opera-house-unveils-programme-of-new-work-alongside-much-loved-classics-for-live-audiences-this-autumn

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/e71f7a7a-ff63-11ea-8388-5bae8b4ec9a9?shareToken=5807070bba5f5e2b38227d896e6a35c8

Edited by meunier fan
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