The Professional Ballet Community Adapts in a Pandemic World
As we are pretty much at the one year mark for which the world was turned upside down, I got to wondering how artistic leadership and dancers of professional ballet companies around the world would reflect upon the months past and their thoughts about the ones to come.
Thus the following questions came to mind:
How have the events of the past year influenced how directors, teachers, choreographers, and dancers approach their jobs?
Although we all wish we had an eight ball, we know the future is unforeseeable. That being said, relative to the ballet industry, what predictions can we make for 2021?
Without really knowing how receptive people would be to opening up, I decided to contact those I know personally in the professional ballet field as well as others who could help me extend the reach even further to see if I could gather some answers to my questions.
So what did I learn?
First and foremost, that it is so important for artists to project their voices so that the world knows and feels how the salvation of ballet is not just about saving an integral part of our culture, but preserving the passions that create the energy we feel when at the theatre.
Also, that the professional ballet community is resilient and stronger than ever with a renewed, overriding sense of gratitude for the professions they have, patience with themselves as they adjust and learn, and reflection about the gifts they have been blessed with to give. Many view this moment in time as perhaps a renaissance for ballet, an opportunity to innovate, refresh, or evolve from some of the more traditional ways.
And last but not least, that although I have known this for a long time due to the decades I have spent as a ballet student, professional dancer, educator, studio director, and now editor of a platform specialized in the art, these opinions confirm that creators are a special breed – one that thrives on diversity, discipline, determination, and dedication to the process and final product.
And now without further ado, I present to you the voices of dozens of artists that represent the world of ballet that we love so much. They are
The past year has certainly allowed me to work on patience! At times I find it difficult to accept that some things are simply out of my control, but I am working on trying to shift that energy and attention to the things that are. This shift of attention has helped me develop a practice of reflection and grounded my actions in thoughtfulness and intention. It has also reinforced the incredible responsibility that accompanies role of Artistic Director, responsibility that reaches beyond the studio or stage.
From a practical standpoint, I think we will see a return to the theatre with full productions. I also think we will continue to see a digital option for experiencing performance. The interest and appetite for digital dance has been remarkable, and I am a strong believer in the merits of creating and sustaining a digital presence.
I’m also hopeful that our art form will see more diversity and inclusion. The events of 2020 have elevated important conversations about race, and we, as an industry, need to be leaders and create space for those conversations. Ballet traditions have long been part of the status quo, and our return to the stage must be inspired by new and more inclusive approaches.
Cherilyn's lifelong passion for ballet has opened the door to the next chapter of her journey. Her strong foundation includes training at the School of American Ballet, being a featured dancer with Hartford Ballet and Carolina Ballet, and being co-director/owner of City Ballet Raleigh. She was granted the Affiliate Teacher Award after successfully completing the ABT National Training Curriculum®. A professional career in the industry along with extensive global travel provide her with a unique set of experiences to draw upon as a journalist and audience member. Cherilyn is excited to be sharing her insight about ballet around the world.