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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Affects the Ballet World


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PNB just cancelled the last rep -- Pite/Tharp/Liang -- Season Encores, which was going to be a farewell to Benjamin Griffiths and Margaret Mullin, the School Performances, and Next Step.  While not unexpected, 😢.

I posted the press release in the PNB forum.

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More about Megan.  ;)
Only this time, it's an 'official' NYT article:

A Dancer's Quarantine Diary: Coming Full Circle
The New York City Ballet principal Megan Fairchild has found shelter back at her childhood home in Utah. She tells us about her new normal.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/14/arts/dance/megan-fairchild-city-ballet-coping-at-home.html

The entire time I was reading this article, I was smiling, thinking of Sarah Mearns' characterization of Fairchild as very orderly, list oriented, and driven.

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Leah said:

Merkel has banned concerts in Germany until the end of August. Considering how well Germany is doing compared to other countries, I don’t think this bodes well for the rest of us.

Merkel has been accused of being overly cautious/dire, but unlike some, Merkel is likely to pay attention to the latest infectious disease modeling patterns (the spread rates and likely future locations).
A new virus that has never circulated among the human population before tends to be very troublesome. This virus has yet to settle into a pattern as age-old viruses tend to do.

The 1918 Spanish Flu (the name is a misnomer) pandemic occurred in two waves: the 2nd one being much worse than the first (which wasn't exactly fun either). Our' leaders' need to be aware of this tendency.

Edited by pherank
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20 minutes ago, Leah said:

I’m not attacking Merkel! I’m pointing to the fact that a country handling the virus well isn’t able to have concerts until September, which means that it will be later for the countries who are farther behind.

I'm not suggesting you are, Leah. It's going to depend on how much the government leaders follow health expert recommendations. Large gatherings can be reinstated today in the U.S. if governors/mayors/the White House insist on doing it. But it wouldn't be very wise.

If there was a way to instantly find and track persons suffering from the active virus, then it would be much easier to control the spread. I can see a time when larger gatherings could take place as long as people are using N95 masks (and better) and disposable medical gloves. But the general public isn't even allowed to acquire this gear yet...

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3 minutes ago, pherank said:

If there was a way to instantly find and track persons suffering from the active virus, then it would be much easier to control the spread. I can see a time when larger gatherings could take place as long as people are using N95 masks (and better) and disposable medical gloves. But the general public isn't even allowed to acquire this gear yet...

What are the odds there will be a fall season for NYCB and ABT in September-October? I have to think the directors of dance companies (and other performing arts groups) are starting to face up to the realities of this pandemic. 

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8 minutes ago, California said:

What are the odds there will be a fall season for NYCB and ABT in September-October? I have to think the directors of dance companies (and other performing arts groups) are starting to face up to the realities of this pandemic. 

If the "2nd wave" issue wasn't weighing on people's minds, then the chance of a Fall season would be much better (following guidelines for protective gear, etc.) We need a safe vaccine, and effective treatment program for Covid-19 before we can get back to mass gatherings. Otherwise, the disease would continue to spread exponentially. I think we are looking at 1 to 1 1/2 years for this disease to run its course, and an effective vaccine to be developed. However, there are many labs in different countries racing to develop a vaccine as early as possible. It just doesn't tend to get done in under 18 months time.

I could see a situation in which healthy groups of people, who have been individually cleared (and are monitored daily) could get together to work. But they really would need to follow pandemic guidelines and wear protective gear and stay socially distant. That makes dancing together as a group real difficult. I would love for the dance companies to be able to get together again and take class, rehearse works, and film dress rehearsals for public streaming online (and make money that way). But they would need to be, in a sense, quarantined together just to do that.

I'm looking for a silver lining...

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1 hour ago, pherank said:

If the "2nd wave" issue wasn't weighing on people's minds, then the chance of a Fall season would be much better (following guidelines for protective gear, etc.) We need a safe vaccine, and effective treatment program for Covid-19 before we can get back to mass gatherings. Otherwise, the disease would continue to spread exponentially. I think we are looking at 1 to 1 1/2 years for this disease to run its course, and an effective vaccine to be developed. However, there are many labs in different countries racing to develop a vaccine as early as possible. It just doesn't tend to get done in under 18 months time.

I could see a situation in which healthy groups of people, who have been individually cleared (and are monitored daily) could get together to work. But they really would need to follow pandemic guidelines and wear protective gear and stay socially distant. That makes dancing together as a group real difficult. I would love for the dance companies to be able to get together again and take class, rehearse works, and film dress rehearsals for public streaming online (and make money that way). But they would need to be, in a sense, quarantined together just to do that.

I'm looking for a silver lining...

Classical arts performances lend themselves to policing audiences much more readily than popular music concerts, but governments might find it politically impossible to allow one and not the other, should it be determined that requiring audience members to wear face masks provides sufficient protection to allow gatherings in close quarters. I've listened to/read interviews with 2 of Germany's leading experts on coronaviruses (1 of whom is the leader of the team that created Germany's SARS-COV-2 test kit), and they both believe that the overwhelming majority of transmission occurs when people are physically close to an infected person for an extended period of time - there is little chance, for example, of being infected by someone passing by in the aisle of a grocery store - and that only a small amount of transmission occurs from people getting the virus on their hands.

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32 minutes ago, YouOverThere said:

Classical arts performances lend themselves to policing audiences much more readily than popular music concerts, but governments might find it politically impossible to allow one and not the other, should it be determined that requiring audience members to wear face masks provides sufficient protection to allow gatherings in close quarters. I've listened to/read interviews with 2 of Germany's leading experts on coronaviruses (1 of whom is the leader of the team that created Germany's SARS-COV-2 test kit), and they both believe that the overwhelming majority of transmission occurs when people are physically close to an infected person for an extended period of time - there is little chance, for example, of being infected by someone passing by in the aisle of a grocery store - and that only a small amount of transmission occurs from people getting the virus on their hands.

Personally, I'd be happy if there had to be two empty seats between each audience member in our opera house, and no one could sit directly behind or forward of another person.  ;)
And if everyone was wearing an N95 rated mask it wouldn't be so bad. Sitting and wearing a mask isn't a big deal - it's having to move about and breath more heavily while wearing a mask that is difficult (and quickly wears out the mask). We just need the darn masks.

 

25 minutes ago, Leah said:

What we need is maximum density restrictions, antibody testing, and temperature checking. Those are far easier to achieve than a vaccine, and it’s the approach being carried out already in Asian countries. Ballet would be difficult to manage with the close contact involved, but I don’t think it would be impossible.

At a certain point the psychological and societal impacts of restrictions become more devastating than the disease itself.  Unfortunately that’s now considered a politically incorrect view. But I don’t think we’ll have performing arts organizations left if we wait 18 months for a vaccine. I don’t think our society will even survive if we just stop everything for so long.

I agree that we have got to have sophisticated testing in place soon, and a flexible ability to contain outbreaks.
I'm not as gloomy about the performing arts as some people - they will return, but there will be unforeseen changes. Companies will 'disappear', but then be resurrected once we get to a more stable environment and economy.

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40 minutes ago, Leah said:

What we need is maximum density restrictions, antibody testing, and temperature checking. Those are far easier to achieve than a vaccine, and it’s the approach being carried out already in Asian countries. Ballet would be difficult to manage with the close contact involved, but I don’t think it would be impossible.

But how many orchestras and dance companies could survive if they could only sell a third or half the seats? Especially dance companies since they have a limited number of performances. Anti-body testing is scary. If possessing antibodies becomes a criteria for going places and doing things, it might motivate younger people to intentionally try to get infected so that they will develop antibodies.

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27 minutes ago, pherank said:

And if everyone was wearing an N95 rated mask it wouldn't be so bad. Sitting and wearing a mask isn't a big deal - it's having to move about and breath more heavily while wearing a mask that is difficult (and quickly wears out the mask). We just need the darn masks.

KInd of interesting that while at least in the US we were initially told that wearing masks was useless, it might turn out that wearing masks would have been the most important way of slowing the spread. As I understand it, only an N95 mask that's properly fitted and properly worn protects the wearer from other people but other types of masks provide some amount of protection from a possibly infected wearer. Plus, it isn't realistic to expect that there will be enough N95 masks for the general public in the foreseeable future. I am considering ordering some non-N95 masks so that I'll have them if they become required (in DC and Maryland, they are already mandatory in grocery stores and on buses and trains) since there is a 6-8 week backlog.

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37 minutes ago, YouOverThere said:

But how many orchestras and dance companies could survive if they could only sell a third or half the seats? Especially dance companies since they have a limited number of performances. Anti-body testing is scary. If possessing antibodies becomes a criteria for going places and doing things, it might motivate younger people to intentionally try to get infected so that they will develop antibodies.

Things to try:

Similar to weekends at the big companies, two shows a day using ballets with smaller casts (and no one is dancing in both shows). Sleeping Beauty is probably not doable for a while.

Produce shows for digital streaming subscription, and market this 'product' in a clear manner. Make a schedule for when the digital content becomes available and what needs to be done to subscribe - and make it affordable for all people, not just some special big subscriber option. Digital films should be the way to make the company available to the world, at the cost of a movie ticket. The days of "I always wanted to see that company but could never imagine traveling there" would be effectively over. (For the audience) no more having to live on scraps of crappy low-resolution dance videos from the 1960's with obnoxious editing and effects.  😉

 

23 minutes ago, YouOverThere said:

KInd of interesting that while at least in the US we were initially told that wearing masks was useless, it might turn out that wearing masks would have been the most important way of slowing the spread. As I understand it, only an N95 mask that's properly fitted and properly worn protects the wearer from other people but other types of masks provide some amount of protection from a possibly infected wearer. Plus, it isn't realistic to expect that there will be enough N95 masks for the general public in the foreseeable future. I am considering ordering some non-N95 masks so that I'll have them if they become required (in DC and Maryland, they are already mandatory in grocery stores and on buses and trains) since there is a 6-8 week backlog.

I ranted about that deliberate misinformation campaign to friends who would listen to me. I think there was a woman from the CDC who was still maintaining that position as recently as 2 weeks ago on CNN.

Here's what was going on: the medical workers in the U.S. were unable to get any PPE - hoarders had bought up the entire supply online, and things were desperate. So, the healthcare powers that be decided to outright lie to the public and say there wasn't any reason why the public needed masks, but could get by with hand washing. Eventually that position was amended to "the masks were not really necessary and, btw, medical workers needed to have them in their work" (so please don't go looking for these things). All one had to do was look at CDC recommendations for PPE to be used when in contact with SARS and MERS patients (the viruses from the same coronavirus family), to find that N95 masks were essential, as well as disposable (latex-free!) surgical gloves, goggles, plastic smocks, and such. Preferably remove all that gear (and destroy) after leaving the infected person's presence and take a shower with lots of soap to wash off any germs that might be attached to hair, skin, etc.

The authorities just didn't want people rioting over these things, but, lying to the public is never a good thing - it just causes distrust of said authorities.

EDIT: it may be depressing, or cynical but what we really need is to reach "herd immunity":

'Herd immunity (also known as community immunity) is defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as “a situation in which a sufficient proportion of a population is immune to an infectious disease (through vaccination and/or prior illness) to make its spread from person to person unlikely.”'

And that can only be done the hard way - most people end up getting sick, or most people end up vaccinated (or both).

Edited by pherank
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Here are some excerpts from Chancellor Merkel's comments showing how her thinking goes – so level-headed and at odds with ours currently in the US. From today's Times

 

Quote

“What we’ve achieved is an interim success — no more, no less. And I stress that it is a fragile interim success.”

 

 
“We can’t have a wrongheaded push forward, even when the best intentions are behind it,” Ms. Merkel said. “We need to understand that we need to live with this virus as long as there is no vaccine and no treatment.” ...

 

Among the first shops allowed to reopen are bookstores, bike stores and car dealers. But they all have to ensure that the number of customers inside is limited while also avoiding long lines from forming outside.
 
Restaurants and bars will have to wait longer, and large events like soccer matches remain banned until Aug. 31. Religious services won’t resume until places of worship have put in place measures to ensure the required distance between worshipers. ...

A key variable the government was looking at, she said, is the so-called reproduction factor of the virus — the number of people an infected person passes the virus on to.

That factor currently stands at about 1, she said, meaning that one person gets infected by every newly infected person. If that factor rose even to 1.1, the German health care system would reach capacity by October, she said.

If it were allowed to rise to 1.2 — so out of five infected people one infects not one but two additional people — that limit is reached by July.

“With 1.3,” Ms. Merkel continued, “we have reached the limit of our health care system by June.”

“So you can see how small our leeway is,” she said, “the entire development rests on having a number of infections that we can keep track of and trace.”
 

 

This animation linked below shows various scenarios of transmission. The last panel of a breathing, not coughing, person suggests how effective a mask, any mask and not necessarily an N95, could be. "An infected person talking for five minutes in a poorly ventilated space can produce as many viral droplets as one infectious cough."

Regarding the resumption of performances, on one hand passing out N95s would be like the days when they festively passed out 3–D glasses in movie theaters.

But on the other hand I think of the unnatural amount of coughing that goes on 1/2 hour after people are seated in a classical performance or ballet, especially during the quiet movement, as if one's body is protesting at not being up on stage with the musicals or dancers.

I don't know ...  I just don't know. Maybe it should start off small-scaled and well-spaced in 400 seat auditoriums, downtown style, more Phillip Glass and John Cage than Mozart, with the big companies beginning again in small venues.

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/04/14/science/coronavirus-transmission-cough-6-feet-ar-ul.html

PS – I am surprised about the compliance and non compliance with the mask rule in San Francisco. In the mornings in my mid-Polk neighborhood virtually everyone wears them as they go about their shopping. You see fewer in the afternoon, fewest in late afternoons, none on the joggers who run along the commercial street instead of the side streets, but a fair number on bicyclists. You also see classic leftist/libertarian couples, one with a mask, one without.

 

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31 minutes ago, Quiggin said:

PS – I am surprised about the compliance and non compliance with the mask rule in San Francisco. In the mornings in my mid-Polk neighborhood virtually everyone wears them as they go about their shopping. You see fewer in the afternoon, fewest in late afternoons, none on the joggers who run along the commercial street instead of the side streets, but a fair number on bicyclists. You also see classic leftist/libertarian couples, one with a mask, one without.

"classic leftist/libertarian couples"  😉

Heavy aerobic activity is just not possible in an N95 mask. But it shouldn't be necessary when running in the open air - there's little to no likelihood of encountering 'virus clouds' hanging in the air in, say , Golden Gate Park. Surfers don't require masks out on the water either(!). But the rules that get handed down to the populace tend to be one-size-fits-all, and are designed to make things easy for the government and police. For the rest of us, not so much. So the county/state parks are pretty much all closed, even though there's little scientific evidence that people get sick while hiking or running about. If it's all about avoiding close proximity to other people, joggers should be fine when running alone, unmasked.

I always smile when I see people driving along by themselves, wearing a mask. All that does is wear out your disposable mask before you really need it. And that reminds me of one last thing - the life of a disposable mask can be extended if you have decent sterilization equipment, but good luck getting that type of equipment now.

 

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9 minutes ago, pherank said:

I always smile when I see people driving along by themselves, wearing a mask. All that does is wear out your disposable mask before you really need it

I had this argument with my roommate:  I think it's perfectly legitimate to wash your hands, put on your mask at home, and then drive to where you are going, rather than fumbling around in the car to put it on.  Plus if you have multiple stops, you're not going to keep taking it off and putting it back on:  that would wear it out more, not to mention the amount of handling you'd do with the mask itself.  

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20 minutes ago, Helene said:

I had this argument with my roommate:  I think it's perfectly legitimate to wash your hands, put on your mask at home, and then drive to where you are going, rather than fumbling around in the car to put it on.  Plus if you have multiple stops, you're not going to keep taking it off and putting it back on:  that would wear it out more, not to mention the amount of handling you'd do with the mask itself.  

To be clear - it doesn't hurt anything to do as you suggest. It just shortens the lifespan of the mask (something like 8 hours max for an N95). As you continue to breath in and out of the mask moisture and particles build up inside, and particles cling to the outside of the mask, decreasing it's effectiveness. If the mask is washable, then you need to do that after use each day.

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I have an N95 left over from the wildfire period which I use with a clean bandana when I bicycle to Ft Mason. It's a little bit of a hindrance but not bad. The joggers on Polk Street, a small-scaled commercial corridor, are really disrespectful to pederstrians, many of them in their 60s and 70s  – when they could just as well jog on Larkin or Hyde, Francisco or Chestnut. You hear them breathing hard when they pass you and if you look at the Times animation I posted above, it's on the border of being safe and not being safe. Any mask is helpful to keep water droplets from being dispersed and the fewer in the air there are the better for everyone.

After much deliberation we regretfully closed our community garden at Ft Mason, the only such garden in the Parks system, to visitors because they were not observing any of the proticols, and were endgandering the health of the gardeners. This unfortunately included the birdwatchers who always followed the rules. Other parks were probably also presented with the same dilemma.

Free will – a sometimes dubious concept even in normal times – might be reined in a bit during these increasingly tragic ones. According to Angela Merkel, one-size-fits-all works. so let us all be fools in masks driving alone in cars for a while.

With AIDS we lost our bird-doggers, the ones knew the latest things, who pulled the best ideas out of the air before anyone else had them. It greatly impacted the visual arts and dance worlds. With Covid19 we're losing the ones with long memories and talents ("cultural capital") who still have a lot to teach and reflect on things that take that kind of longview: book reviewers and literary critics, architectural essayists (Michael Sorkin), our senior dance teachers, etc. 

Regarding "herd immunity," I believe it depends on a vaccine already being available. From the Oxford Vaccination Project website:

Quote

When a high percentage of the population is vaccinated, it is difficult for infectious diseases to spread, because there are not many people who can be infected. For example, if someone with measles is surrounded by people who are vaccinated against measles, the disease cannot easily be passed on to anyone, and it will quickly disappear again. This is called ‘herd immunity’, 'community immunity' or 'herd protection', and it gives protection to vulnerable people such as newborn babies, elderly people and those who are too sick to be vaccinated.

 

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5 hours ago, Quiggin said:

Regarding "herd immunity," I believe it depends on a vaccine already being available. From the Oxford Vaccination Project website:

 

"Herd immunity" doesn't require a vaccine, however it does require a significant portion of the population to have developed anti-bodies. I've seen the figure of 60 percent thrown around. In the absence of a vaccine, that means having been infected to the extent that the immune system mobilizes against the disease. In the US, 60 percent would mean close to 200 million people, and even if the fatality rate is at the low end of the estimates that I've seen - 0.4 percent claimed in a study of one of the most affected districts in Germany - that would mean close to 800,000 deaths.

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Taking inspiration from the most irritating thing about pointe shoes. By the principal women of the Berlin State Ballet.

POB dancers doing their thing at home to thank frontline workers. I especially enjoyed Hugo Marchand's straw hat and the little ones joining in.

Not ballet, but still my favorite thank-you video.

 

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https://news.yahoo.com/los-angeles-mayor-says-large-213731141.html?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly9zZWFyY2gueWFob28uY29tL3locy9zZWFyY2g_aHNwYXJ0PUxrcnkmaHNpbXA9eWhzLVNGMDEmdHlwZT1BTllTX0ExSzZCX2\

 

The mayor of Los Angeles has indicated that large gatherings will not be taking place until 2021.  Assuming NY follows this thinking, this is a highly depressing reality. 

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1 minute ago, Leah said:

If NYCB loses Nutcracker this year that’ll be catastrophic for them.

Safe to say it would be catastrophic for every company in North America! The German companies enjoy substantial state support, although apparently they have real problems with unemployment generally and budget. But in NA, this is such a huge, huge part of their budgets...I won't be surprised if some go under.

Perhaps we can all shift our Nutcrackers to January?

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17 minutes ago, abatt said:

https://www.billboard.com/articles/business/touring/9359311/new-york-la-live-events-not-until-2021-mayors

 

And NY's Mayor deBlasio agrees. No public gatherings until 2021.

I didn't see an overt statement of  No public gatherings until 2021 from De Blasio.  What I saw quoted by De Blasio  was talking about thousands of people at public gatherings.

Am I reading the wrong source?  

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The Met Opera has 3,800 seats, plus 200 standing room spots.  Add the orchestra, stage crew, other staff and orchestra to that sum, and you have a gathering of around 5,000.

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