Ballet in your living room

Isabella Velasquez and Anthony Cannarella perform in a Sacramento Ballet performance. (Photo by Keith Sutter, courtesy of Sacramento Ballet)

Sacramento Ballet is putting performances and classes online during coronavirus stay at home order

By Patrick Hyun Wilson

Sacramento Ballet is making a pledge. The arts group will be dancing, toe tapping and pirouetting into your homes—virtually, of course.

After the coronavirus crisis temporarily closed B Street Theatre, Sacramento Ballet was forced to postpone its performances of “Homegrown: A Festival of New Works.”

Sharing past performances, dress and studio rehearsals online is a way to remain engaged with Sacramento audiences, said Amy Seiwert, the ballet’s artistic director.

It will be releasing performances and classes for the general public on the Sacramento Ballet YouTube channel and at SacBallet.org.

The first performance was Adam Hougland’s “Cigarettes,” the 2018 ballet that premiered as part of the “Telling Stories” series. The 15-minute performance features Julia Feldman, Stefan Calka, Anthony Cannarella and Jonathan Harris.

The second performance was “On The Rocks, Please!” which premiered as part of the Mozart in Motion series in October 2019.

“I think if we can give people a chuckle in their day right now, it’s pretty appreciated,” Seiwert said. “If you’ve never seen it and you’ve got 15 minutes to spare it is worth checking out. I don’t want to ruin any of the surprises.”

But to share the performances, there were some legal hurdles.

“Most standard choreographer contracts say you can’t put a whole ballet online,” Seiwert said. “We’re reaching out to a lot of the choreographers we work with and saying, ‘Hey, can we put this up online just for now, for a limited time?’ And everyone has, you know, over overwhelmingly said, ‘Yes, of course.’”

The work being posted goes beyond the engaging dance choreography. Sac Ballet is also working on putting together online classes to send directly to their senior patrons.

“We have a senior tap class that comes in once a week. I was filming that teacher, and there was a point where she’s teaching the combination, and she looks over her shoulder at the camera and says, ‘Janice, don’t do this,’” Seiwert said.

The classes do more than teach seniors to tap; one of the first offered online is called “Fall Prevention through Movement for Seniors.”

Seiwert received an email from one of the students who was trying to remember the movements from the class when the video showed up in her inbox.

“They really do make the heart sing in uncertain times. As an arts organization, any day we serve our community is a win,” Seiwert said.

The coronavirus outbreak is affecting Sacramento businesses, but also the arts community.

“It’s a crazy, crazy time for everyone,” Seiwert said. “I think for the arts in general, a lot of us, our budgets don’t have a huge buffer for situations like this. So if this is a time where you can support the creative economy, Sacramento Ballet can bring some dance into your living room.”

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