Ballet Arts Ensemble

In March 2020, the COVID-19 shutdown only minimally affected the last nine weeks of the Ballet Arts Ensemble (BAE) 2019-20 season, with both concerts completed. It did not immediately affect the 2020-21 season.

That said, numerous spring state orders/directives delayed BAE auditions. When performance venues were closed, BAE Artistic Director Cathleen Huling deemed her 2020-21 season plan impossible. So in July, we had no plan and no dance company. Determined not to cancel the season, our organization immediately tackled three important issues:

  1. Set an August date for virtual auditions to select BAE dancers for 2020-21.
  2. Update studio technology to support virtual and hybrid class/rehearsal needs.
  3. Create a “pod” rehearsal strategy to use for 18 dancers while observing group numbers and social distancing rules.

Our first virtual concert was a December mixed rep in three parts, all rehearsed using the “pod” system. The entire company never danced together until the final taping! The concert aired on the weekend before Christmas and garnered 750 views.

Initially reluctant to deal with technology, our organization ultimately embraced it for advantages such as:

  1. Do-overs.
  2. Reduced concert expenses without venue rental and ticket vendor fees.
  3. Opportunity to connect for the first time in many years with those who live out of the area.
  4. Easy viewing and donation without parking or weather issues.

The December concert so energized our organization that BAE’s second virtual concert aired in March – and we anticipate virtual concerts in future seasons!

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Photo credit Linda Culver