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ABT online gala

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From the company:


THE 80




Misty Copeland and Calvin Royal III. Photo: Ruth Hogben.

Bringing the history, artistry and optimism of American Ballet Theatre to homes across the world, ABT presents American Ballet Theatre: Together Tonight, a gala celebration of new work created in social isolation and historical film footage to be streamed on American Ballet Theatre’s YouTube channel on Tuesday evening, May 12 from 7–8 PM EDT. This unprecedented one-hour, pre-recorded presentation will mark ABT’s 80 years through film, music and new choreography representing the Company’s tradition of celebrating the diversity and dynamism of America through the power of world- class dance. In addition, virtual experiences and one-of-a-kind items will be available through an online auction open to all ABT fans and supporters on the OneCause platform. For more information, please visit www.abt.org/TogetherTonight.

Produced by Matador Content and curated by ABT dancers and artistic staff,
ABT: Together Tonight will benefit the ABT Crisis Relief Fund, which provides needed assistance to ABT’s artistsdancers, production crew, rehearsal pianists, ballet masters and education faculty directly impacted by loss of income due to the COVID-19 health crisis. Gala guests will be able to donate online to the fund throughout the evening through ABT’s website.

Headliners and Celebrity Guests

Headliners for ABT: Together Tonight include the legendary Tony Bennett singing Fly Me to the Moon to adapted choreography by Jessica Lang (Let Me Sing Forevermore) performed on location in Central Park by ABT Soloists Catherine Hurlin and Aran Bell, a talented couple who are sheltering in place together. Oscar nominee and Tony Award® winner Cynthia Erivo performs America the Beautiful against a backdrop of ABT artists  and everyday Americans  dancing across the nation and the world as they stay at home, #AloneButTogether.

Special guests scheduled to toast ABT’s 80th Anniversary during Together Tonight include Katie Couric, Jennifer Garner, Kelly Ripa, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Julianna Margulies, Margaret Qualley, Chita Rivera, Deborah Roberts, Liev Schreiber, Al Roker, Nate Berkus, Jeremiah Brent, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Julio Bocca, Roberto Bolle, Alessandra Ferri and Carla Fracci.

80th Anniversary Tribute and New Work

ABT: Together Tonight, narrated by ABT dancers and leaders, celebrities, alumni and special guests, will present viewers with rarely-seen glimpses of ABT’s 80-year history in footage of past performances. Gala guests will also enjoy interviews with ABT artists, celebrity greetings, performances by the ABT Orchestra, and a video montage with members of the ABT Studio Company and students of the ABT Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School introduced by New York Yankees pitcher Adam Ottavino.

Additional highlights of the gala evening will include a tribute to the 20th Anniversary of Kevin McKenzie’s Swan Lake and newly adapted choreography by tap dance legend Michelle Dorrance, created to honor frontline essential workers everywhere. Dorrance’s percussive dance, adapted from her 2018 work Dream within a Dream (deferred), will be performed by the Company’s current roster of dancers, filmed from their home locations, and conclude with footage of the daily 7 PM #ClapBecauseWeCareNYC celebration of health care workers. A new work by choreographer Jessica Lang entitled Our Common Fate, set to David Lang’s the national anthems, will feature ABT dancers and ABT Studio Company members performing from locations across the country.

Online ABT80 Auction to Benefit ABT Crisis Relief

An online auction of unique ABT items and virtual experiences will be available for bidding throughout the evening’s program to benefit the ABT Crisis Relief Fund. Virtual offerings include ABT dancers conducting cooking classes, ballet lessons, conversations, specialized workouts and children’s story times. Guests can bid on items beginning Friday, May 8 through Thursday, May 14, 2020 on the OneCause platform.

For more information on American Ballet Theatre, online offerings and the ABT Crisis Relief Fund, please visit www.abt.org/TogetherTonight.

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That's a lot to present in one hour. No time for sustained ballet excerpts or a complete short ballet.

I'm glad that ABT is doing something but this seems a bit too "pop" oriented. I guess that the big bucks are outside the tight circle of dedicated balletomanes. Whatever it takes to keep ABT afloat. :)

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Among the details about the upcoming ABT virtual gala, from their FB page:

As part of the evening’s offerings, Bennett will sing “Fly Me to the Moon,” while soloists Catherine Hurlin and Aran Bell (who are currently sheltering together) dance an adaptation of Jessica Lang’s “Let Me Sing Forevermore” at Central Park. Cynthia Erivo will perform “America the Beautiful” in accompaniment to a montage of Ballet Theatre artists and others.

A tribute to the 20th anniversary of Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie’s “Swan Lake” and a new work by Lang, titled “Our Common Fate,” will also be included alongside interviews with dancers and performances from the ABT Orchestra.


Nice. There will be some actual ballet...but do we really need to know that Hurlin and Bell "...are currently sheltering together..."? :toot:

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16 minutes ago, Roberta said:

...but do we really need to know that Hurlin and Bell "...are currently sheltering together..."? 

I think the point was to explain how they are able to perform a piece together. If they weren't sheltering together their doing so would be unsafe and irresponsible on the part of the company.

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More info: 


Virtual Offerings Each and Every Day for Eight Weeks to Include Tributes to ABT Dancers, Anniversary Spotlights and In-Depth Features

American Ballet Theatre (ABT) will present a full season of programming to viewers and fans around the world with American Ballet Theatre OffStage: A 2020 Virtual Season. As the global health crisis has forced ABT artists out of the theater and into their homes, these online offerings will carry the artistry of ABT into homes everywhere with a slate of daily activities timed to align with ABT’s previously planned New York 80th Anniversary Spring Season, May 11July 4, 2020.

In this week-by-week online journey, American Ballet Theatre OffStage offers diverse behind- the-scenes experiences of America’s National Ballet Company®. Daily programming includes conversations, ballet classes, orchestral concerts, Guest Artist spotlights, hair and make-up tutorials and a historical review. American Ballet Theatre OffStage will run across Company online platforms at ABT.org, Instagram (@ABTOfficial, @ABTSchool, and @ABTStudioCo), Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and email blasts. A sampling of ABT Offstage highlights includes:

#ABTMetMemory Video Diaries

Each Monday, beginning May 11, individual ABT artists will reflect on their personal memories of performing at the Metropolitan Opera House and share their thoughts on a particular full-length ballet from ABT’s repertoire. ABT Principal Dancers Stella Abrera, Isabella Boylston, Herman Cornejo and former Principal Dancer Paloma Herrera are among the notable names scheduled to share their favorite Met memories.

Debut Deferred Series

Each Wednesday, dancers scheduled for major debuts this Spring will discuss their roles and perform a brief rehearsal while sheltering at home. Soloists Aran Bell, Skylar Brandt, Thomas Forster, Catherine Hurlin, Calvin Royal III and Cassandra Trenary will answer viewer questions submitted online and discuss their preparation for leading roles in La Bayadère, Giselle, Romeo and Juliet, Swan Lake and The Sleeping Beauty.

ABT@80: A Fond Look Back

Each Thursday, ABT Offstage will celebrate the milestones of its eight decades and honor dancers from its past (#ThrowbackThursday, #TBT) with historical images, videos, and testimonials featuring its legendary artists. On Thursday, May 21, Natalia Makarova will participate in a special celebration of the 40th anniversary of her staging of La Bayadère, which was given its ABT premiere on that date in 1980. The Company will also pay tribute to Alicia Alonso, famed Cuban ballerina and pioneering member of Ballet Theatre.

Ballet Classes Inspired by the Classics

Each Friday, ABT Offstage will feature former and current Company dancers teaching a class inspired by one of this season’s scheduled ballets. Christine Shevchenko, Sarah Lane, Luciana Paris, Susan Jaffe and Sascha Radetsky are among the guest teachers slated to conduct classes influenced by the ABT productions Of Love and Rage, The Sleeping Beauty, Jane Eyre, La Bayadère and Fancy Free.

ABT Weekend Talk Series

Each Saturday, the Company will present conversations on YouTube focused on the ballet that would have been performed, as well as a special July 4th exchange between two heroes: former ABT dancers-turned-first-responders Gray Davis, a Deputy Sheriff in Abbeville County, South Carolina and New York City 911 paramedic Patrick Ogle. ABT Offstage conversations also include Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie discussing “ABT Then and Now” with Herman Cornejo and choreographer JessicaLang, Misty Copeland and Calvin Royal III discussing their roles in Romeo and Juliet, former Principal Dancer and ABT JKO School Artistic Director Cynthia Harvey and Isabella Boylston parsing the role of Gamzatti in La Bayadère, and Catherine Hurlin and Aran Bell sharing their experiences creating ABT’s World Premiere production Of Love and Rage.

Virtual Meeting Backgrounds

Unique virtual backgrounds of ABT productions will be available for download at www.abt.org. Fans can access a new background each week, representing the weekly repertoire aligning with ABT’s planned 80th Anniversary Spring season. Scenes from Fancy Free, La Bayadère, Romeo and Juliet, Of Love and Rage, Giselle, The Sleeping Beauty, Jane Eyre and Swan Lake will enable users to attend their next virtual meeting in true ABT style.

American Ballet Theatre: Together Tonight

Kicking off ABT’s 2020 virtual season, American Ballet Theatre: Together Tonight on Tuesday, May 12 at 7pm ET will be a free one-hour celebration on YouTube featuring ABT’s renowned dancers joined by special guests Tony Bennett, Cynthia Erivo, Katie Couric, Kelly Ripa and Liev Schreiber. This tribute to ABT’s 80th Anniversary will celebrate the Company with film, music and choreography to be streamed on YouTube. ABT: Together Tonight will build awareness for the ABT Crisis Relief Fund, which provides needed assistance to ABT’s artists—dancers, production crew, rehearsal pianists, ballet masters and education facultydirectly impacted by loss of income due to the COVID-19 health crisis.

Viewers will be encouraged to donate online to the fund throughout the evening. Virtual experiences and one-of-a-kind items will also be available through an online auction open to all ABT fans and supporters on the OneCause platform at https://one.bidpal.net/abt.

“While we long for the energy of artists and audiences together in the same physical space, we now have the opportunity to share rare glimpses behind the scenes,” said Kara Medoff Barnett, ABT Executive Director. “We invite our fans and friends – who had looked forward to experiencing their favorite ballets and beloved dancers live at the Met  to join us in the wings with ABT Offstage. I have not yet had the heart to remove ABT’s 80th Anniversary performances from my calendar, and now, I don’t have to!”

For more information, please visit www.abt.org/TogetherTonight. For more information on American Ballet Theatre OffStage or to donate to the ABT Crisis Relief Fund, please visit www.abt.org.

American Airlines, Official Airline of American Ballet Theatre
LG SIGNATURE, Global Electronics Partner of American Ballet Theatre Bank of America, Lead Corporate Partner of ABT Studio Company

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Oh dear. Just happened to be on YT and tuned in. Tony Bennett should not be performing anymore. This whole piece is just depressing.

ETA: Oh no, now they're doing a photo slide show to muzak. This is just sad. This is the content they're offering? Poor ABT. They try, sometimes. But they just aren't good at this. And it's pretty unacceptable. Failure of leadership.

ETA2: Ok, they clearly have video of the new Ratmansky. Probably of the whole thing. But instead of actually playing a decent excerpt so people can enjoy it as a ballet, they do some ridiculous sped-up montage. This is pathetic and short-sighted. Meanwhile I'll be tuning in soon to watch NYCB stream content with real substance.

ETA3: And now "America, the Beautiful" to another depressing photo montage. After about 4 straight minutes of a swan arms montage.

Edited by nanushka
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1 minute ago, Leah said:

I don’t see why they wouldn’t stream Of Love and Rage for donations if they have the whole thing on tape. I’m extremely curious to see it.

They seem bizarrely averse to streaming real dance content. Now they're talking up their upcoming streams of behind-the-scenes content. Why not stream some in-front-of-the-scenes content — i.e. actual dance performances?

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Reading about this with distress--though I guess it saves me time watching it--Perhaps they remain convinced (as I think some still are) that seeing substantive ballet online keeps people from being willing to to see it live. But NOW??!!?? I would also understand if Ratmansky wanted to work more on Of Love and Rage before it gets seen by wider audiences, but is there really no 10-15 minute -- or even 5 minute -- clip they can show? Oh well. I still hope they get a lot of donations. And perhaps the second half will be better....

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I think they feel good that they put something out there to see, but it wasn't much. I do feel for the dancers who aren't wealthy or don't have tons of resources and are in a pinch, but this did not make me feel more engaged with ABT or want to donate to their relief fund. I've had enough of the promotional videos, videos of dancers in their homes and playing on social media, and celebrities supporting ABT. We want to appreciate the art form and this isn't it. There are plenty of fantastic performances to stream from NYCB, SFB, PNB, ENB, Royal Ballet, Royal Danish, Mariinsky, etc. and I love being able to see classic full lengths and newer choreographers. I'm saving money since I don't have tickets to buy right now and don't mind giving a few donations if I'm seeing a full length ballet from a company across the country or across the world that I normally wouldn't be able to see. I'm intrigued by these other companies and their dancers. I watched SFB's Romeo and Juliet and liked seeing the full ballet with a few conversations and insights with dancers and artistic staff throughout the performance. It would be great if ABT could offer the behind the scenes and insights alongside the actual performance. They are letting their dancers down by not showcasing them in full performances.

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Can't really add much that hasn't been said. I follow Betsy McBride, Zimmi Coker and others on IG, since I'm 2500 miles away from ABT. I'm a fan of the dancers. Of the theater. Of the city. But I'm limited in how I can see ballet on this level. So I've always been happy to watch ABT. But this was choppier than the post I'm making! I am missing the actual ballet (out here, that's California Ballet Company for me). Also, I know the companies to rely on varying levels on donations, but that part of this seemed almost like begging.

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4 minutes ago, fondoffouettes said:

If you needed something to make you feel more depressed, ABT's "gala" was it. 

Yup! We have gotten so spoiled in recent weeks by the incredible amount of new programming by major companies showing us complete works we had not before seen on DVDs or elsewhere. This "gala" was even sadder in contrast. It might have sounded like a good idea in isolation to have us watch an endless stream of celebrities toasting ABT's 80th, but with so little dancing it was mainly just a big bore. ABT has announced a schedule of other things in the coming weeks, and I wonder if we'll see some serious performances or just more classes and interviews.  

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1 hour ago, Leah said:

I don’t see why they wouldn’t stream Of Love and Rage for donations if they have the whole thing on tape. I’m extremely curious to see it.

They could do what PNB did to see their Giselle: send them a donation and you'll get access. They could even set a minimum donation. If it's as good as early reviews suggested, this would make me MORE likely to buy a ticket to the theater next year, not less.

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This was a waste of time for anyone interested in seeing ballet and I don't think it reflects well on the company that this was apparently the best they could come up with for their 80th anniversary gala. 

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I just watched a few minutes of this. I happened to tune into the Tony Bennett/dancers in the park sequence. I’m a sucker for this sort of thing and the first thing that I do when I get to New York is go to Central Park.

I haven’t seen many Woody Allen movies but this reminds me of his new “Rainy Day In New York.” Sort of charming.

Edited by Buddy
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It was a disappointing program, and rather indicative of just how out of touch ABT management is with contemporary life, in so many ways:  in its lackluster use of digital media, its refusal to utilize and monetize whatever archival film and video assets it may hold - put your assets to work for you, management! - and its absolute refusal to give the audience what it wants, which is ballet dancing.  Beautiful, transporting, sigh-inducing ballet dancing, in complete performances or even just portions of performances.  We came for the ballet dancing, but all we got was . . .  nothing.  I'm not sure what it was we got, besides sadness.

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Just echoing what everyone else has said here.  What the heck did I just watch?!  They went to the trouble to film so many high profile people, but they would've just been better off showing actual performance or rehearsal clips.  Way too much talking, not enough dancing.  They should feature the real assets of the company - the dancers performing on stage!  Not this random collection of depressing interviews that ended up feeling so out of touch with what the company actually has to offer.

I've loved the offerings brought by SFB, NYCB, and others - so much so it has prompted me to donate to several companies.  Echoing what was said above, it seemed like ABT was outright begging for money, rather than letting the quality of the performances to speak for themselves.  I know SFB had a tiered donation system that unlocked access for various perks and performances with different levels of donation.  It seems like relatively low lift for ABT to do similar.

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Well… I'm definitely in the minority here, but I enjoyed tonight's event. I suppose it would have been nice to see some archival footage or excerpts from ballets, but I don't think that ABT has much of that that they can put online (hopefully I'm wrong). But anyway, this so-called gala was billed as a fundraiser, so I wasn't disappointed or expecting otherwise. I thought it was nice to see some behind-the-scenes footage of the Studio Company and the JKO School, as well as some of the people who actually work behind the scenes. Personally, I loved seeing the dancers performing the entrance of the swans from their homes—literally across the U.S. and even Australia (and maybe a few other places around the world... I'm not sure). I found it very moving. I could have done without the celebrities like Katie Couric and Kelly Ripa, but all in all, I thought the evening was fun and different, and I hope the company ends up raising a decent amount of money from this “online celebration.”

Edited by BalletFan
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I watched some and fast forwarded through much but what struck me was that some dance-video bits were enjoyable to me (including the Tony Bennett/Catherine Hurlin/Aran Bell featurette--especially charming when he and the dancers waved to each other, they in the park and he in his apartment). I think several others might have been enjoyable or moving to me as video-dance or video "bits" in the context of at least one or two substantive excerpts. The absence of anything like that was very disappointing. And the music-video approach even when charming (as many bits were to me) is not charming for an hour... But perhaps the target audience for this fundraiser is not hard-core balletomanes (though some balletomanes, like @balletfan enjoyed it which is great). 

Let's hope they are saving substantive material up for later....(I did think the opening montage was good, maybe some of that footage at greater length?)

I do like the company's plan to have a feature with dancers who were preparing debuts for this spring--I hope they are able to include better rehearsal footage than we saw this evening.  I do feel great love for ABT and want them to make it through this crisis more or less intact....

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This virtual ABT "gala" was basically a big one-hour infomercial. All I remember was an off-key Tony Bennett attempting to sing and some socialite fat cats raising their champagne glasses. There was no bit of sustained performance. Perhaps this was planned a few weeks ago, before the rest of the ballet world opened up their archival coffers with films of complete ballets. After this gala, I immediately switched YouTube channels on my TV, to thoroughly enjoy 50 minutes of substantial Balanchine and Robbins treasures at NYCB.

Early Warning:  Another of these sorts of infomercials is planned by Julie Kent and the Washington Ballet on June 18, as per their FB page. "Mini-ABT" on the Potomac. Maybe WB will learn from this ABT mess and devote 10-15 minutes to an actual ballet performance (on film) and not to a series of Washington-area socialites raising champagne glasses?

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I wonder if last night's offering would have been better received if they hadn't called it a "gala?"  I feel the program needed some other designation, as "gala" evokes a very specific promise of what's to be offered... and ABT did not deliver.  I assumed I'd be tuning in to enjoy a curated program of actual dancing (much like NYCB's mixed-rep type offering that's currently available until Friday).  I hoped for a collection of fabulous pas de deux, variations, and awe-inspiring corps moments from the last few seasons, with maybe a smattering of famous historical ABT performances from the past 80 years included for our enjoyment.

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You can barely find actual dancing of "America's National Ballet Company". They had an opportunity to showcase it here and instead decided to do a commercial. Le sigh. If they don't survive COVID I wouldn't be surprised. Maybe ABT folding would be a blessing in disguise by getting a new AD and board with better artistic vision and integrity. Lord knows ABT has needed it for years now. I feel sorry for the dancers.

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