‣ On a more positive note, you have also mentioned to me how you are glad to be a part of the reshaping of the future of ballet. What does this “reshaping” entail?
There is no turning back at this point – just hoping, praying and wishing things will be back “the way they were” is not realistic.
This pandemic will reshape the arts, as it will reshape the taste of the audience, the habits of the audience and the lifestyles of the world’s population.
For example, if we are restaging an existing work by a foreign choreographer, is it necessary for that person to fly from London to Tulsa to see the dancers for a week’s rehearsal? Maybe staying in London and holding rehearsals via Zoom is a more economical and equally efficient way to get things done.
Where does the new balance between entertaining and culturally stimulating a community lay going forward? Is this the time to prove that we are here for more than just entertaining? That our role in a community is to open the conversations on difficult topics?
Are we going to be more relevant in the future or less relevant?
And how do we balance that with the need to sell enough tickets to pay the bills?
Also, this crisis will force some of us to cut down the roster of our companies, and many ballet schools are on the verge of closing, or have already closed. How will that affect the future of our art form? As you can see, I have lots of questions but very few answers…
‣ Perhaps, but you give us food for thought.
So what about the immediate future? Uncertainty is still a protagonist despite us entering a new year.
For the remainder of the 2020-2021 season – and I suppose in planning for the next – will Tulsa Ballet return to digital performances as you did for Creations Reimagined, or are you going to focus on small-capacity live performances?
Actually, even shows like Creations Reimagined were performed in front of live audiences… of thirty people!
Going forward, I think the virtual component will become part of every organization’s offerings, but it’s definitely not the silver bullet. When we first started offering digital shows – in the spring of 2020 – we saw thousands of people flocking the screen to see the company. As other companies joined the band wagon, we saw hundreds of people tuning in.
By June the audience kept diminishing with every offering. What we hear from people is that they are tired to watch dance on a TV screen.
We are now preparing another smaller program, with a new work by Andrew McNicol (he will create it from his living room in London) and Parhelia by Jennifer Archibald.
We hope to finish the season with a larger show, and then take the summer off and get everybody vaccinated.
As for next year, we plan to have a sort-of normal season starting in September. We know we’ll be performing in front of reduced audiences, but according to Dr. Fauci, by the fall we should see some sort of normalcy creep back in our lives.
We will create a new work in October remembering the Tulsa Race Massacres of 1921, a work that will make us think of the past and consider the implications of our choices for the future. That’s the kind of programming that matters.
We will premiere a brand-new Nutcracker in December to mark the beginning of the post-pandemic era. That’s the programming that uplifts the community.
And we will perform the U.S. Premiere of Vendetta, A Mafia Story, by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa! Ain’t sending the sets and costumes back to Montreal till we do it here in Tulsa!
As for the rest… stay tuned!