CLEVELAND, Ohio – Different as they are, Cleveland’s major dance groups are alike in evincing one important quality during the coronavirus pandemic: creativity.
Unable to proceed as normal, to perform for live audiences in their usual venues, all have displayed balletic flexibility and remarkable haste in efforts to amend or wholly redesign their fall seasons.
“We’re talking about a significant change to our lifestyle,” said Margaret Carlson, producing artistic director of Verb Ballets. “We’re experimenting with different ways of reaching audiences. It’s all an experimental process.”
For some, the experiment already has been underway for months. Many spent the summer finding larger studios, learning to dance while wearing masks, and devising ways to connect with patrons online or in other socially distant manners.
Others, meanwhile, have had to act more quickly. They’re now drafting new game-plans for the fall, having waited out the summer in the hope that larger audiences would be permitted to gather indoors by this point. One troupe, Neos Dance Theatre, went and remains on hiatus during the pandemic, and is now mulling a company-wide restructuring.
“There’s a lot of learning curve here,” said Pam Young, executive director of DanceCleveland, noting that with so much uncertainty in the world, “the best we can do right now is put dates on the calendar by which we have to make decisions.”
Cleveland Ballet had an ambitious fall season on the horizon, including a production of “The Magic Flute” at Playhouse Square. That, though, became unfeasible with Playhouse Square remaining closed and indoor gatherings still limited.
Luckily, it found an alternative. Just before the weather changed too dramatically, the company put together an Ohio tour called “Outside the Box,” a whirlwind string of outdoor shows at Stan Hywet Hall and vineyards in Aurora and Canton. Thus will “The Magic Flute”