It was with mixed feelings that I entered the SNB studio on August 18, 2020. The SNB Board voted to open the studio for Hybrid classes and rehearsals three days a week and do Zoom-only classes and rehearsals three days a week. We had not held classes or rehearsals in the building since March, and, while I felt very excited to be back in person, I was also quite nervous to see if everyone would follow the very detailed COVID protocol that we had set up. The Protocol is listed on the front door, and all participants were emailed the Protocol which includes limiting each studio to 10-12 participants; texting for entrance; no family members allowed; no waiting in the lobby; a limit of two at a time in the building entrance; wearing dance clothes under clothing; taking temperature before entering; wearing mandatory face masks at all times; using hand sanitizer regularly in the building; disinfecting all areas after use (including barres and floor); keeping 6 feet distancing at all time etc…
I was pleasantly surprised to find that everyone followed the protocol with a spirit of camaraderie which is the signature of our SNB family -from the youngest SNBA student to the highest SNB professional principal dancer.
Before COVID the SNB company met in person for class and rehearsal three to six times a week, 10 months a year depending on the performance schedule. Since COVID, the SNB Company has met twice a week for class regularly on ZOOM and (thanks to the City of Reno) has met in person for class and rehearsal four different times outside in different areas of the City.
The first “in studio” company class was on Saturday, August 22, 2020. (The entire company can not meet in the studio due to social distancing so dancers need to alternate weekly with some attending on Zoom. ) Even the face masks could not hide the joy on the faces of every dancer. (I have come to realize that people smile with their hearts, and it radiates through their eyes.)
I had forgotten how very beautifully the SNB dancers move together as a unit, and I found myself in tears as I watched them execute a slow, lyrical Adagio together in the center of the floor. They maintained a proper physical distance, but they moved as one connected spirit which was quite breathtaking and reminded me of the importance of our art form. Ballet is an art form that originated to bring man closer to the angels, and that spirituality was very evident in the SNB Buck studio this past Saturday.
SNB has some very exciting plans to create several virtual performances in the next few months including a live streaming performance to original music by Eric Anderson (Heart to Heart-Eye To Eye), and two educational virtual performances for school children involving the PEANUTCRACKER and a ballet promoting social justice.
SNB Academy continues to add classes in the studio and on Zoom. Thanks to a grant from Renown, SNB will reinstate the popular BOYS ONLY BALLET class in September for boys from age 12 through adult. This 1x a week beginning class will be once again offered FREE for boys interested in studying ballet.
While we are not certain what the future will look like for the art of ballet, we are certain that it will be a bright one. Each time I speak with fellow professional ballet directors, I marvel at their strength and optimism.
I asked my long time friend, Kevin McKenzie (Artistic Director of American Ballet Theatre, the national ballet company of the United States) his opinion on the future of the art of Ballet. Here is what he told me: “I think how we slog through the interim on our way back to full blown live performance will determine the future of Ballet. Certainly the use of social media, short concise films and rather abstract expression on specific themes will take dominance. There will probably also be an explosion of material for 3 people or less added to the cannon of work. But clearly, the art form of ballet, until it returns to theaters or live performance, will take a secondary role to the art form of filming it for the foreseeable future. That said, there is an opportunity for many more people to be exposed to mainstream dance through media than live performance, so, there may be a few more converts by the time we dust off our theaters…”
At SNB, our doors are open, and we are excitedly ready to create new art!