American Ballet Theater executive director returns in fall after Covid shutdown

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The American Ballet Theater – the nation’s national ballet company – announced its return to the stage in New York in October, a year after it ceased theater performances due to Covid.

“We can’t wait to see ABT in the Lincoln Center theaters that are our home,” ABT Executive Director Kara Medoff Barnett told CNBC’s Worldwide Exchange on Friday. “We know our New York fans can’t wait to see ABT’s performers on stage again.”

ABT just completed a tour across the country that brought 20 of their 84 dancers, along with 28 support teams, to eight different states. The company has performed in outdoor and socially remote venues, and Barnett said they would learn from the protocols they developed this summer to ensure a safe indoor season in the fall.

“We want to continue our commitment to ensuring the safety of our artists, our staff and our audience,” Barnett said. “This is definitely what was in mind when we planned our outdoor tour, keeping the audience outside while we have the summer sun.”

American Ballet Theater dancers perform the first company of “La Follia Variations”, choreographed by Lauren Lovette and costumes by Victor Glemaud, during a dress rehearsal for the American Ballet Theater production “Uniting in Movement” at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa on Thursday, April 22, 2021.

Leonard Ortiz | MediaNews Group | Orange County Register via Getty Images

Since its last fall season in 2019, ABT has had to cancel its in-person performances and switch to digital programming, like many ballet companies across the country and around the world.

Barnett said the pandemic has been a time of adaptation and learning for the entire company. “We are still thinking, especially for a year and a half, about what plan B, plan C,” she added. “We are agile in more than one way.”

During the Lincoln Center season, which takes place the last two weeks of October, performances may require proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test, according to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tickets will be refundable until noon on the day of the show, in the event of a last minute change for spectators.

“We work closely with our Lincoln Center sites. We work closely with our medical advisor. And we’re committed to finding ways to continue to pursue the mission of this company, which has been bringing extraordinary works of art to the public for 81 years. “Barnett told CNBC.

This season’s performances will include the classical ballet “Giselle”, as well as three of 22 works that were developed over the past year as the dancers were separated into 11 creative bubbles.

“We are bringing three of the works created in these residency bubbles to New York audiences for premiere on stage,” Barnett said. “They had digital premieres, they had outdoor premieres across the country – but now we’ll bring them to Lincoln Center.”

The “ABT Across America” ​​performances, which ended Wednesday in New York City, were mostly free. But for a company that saw 36% of its revenue come from ticket sales in 2018, returning a full program is integral to future success and longevity.

Barnett isn’t worried about the payback, saying he’s very optimistic about the demand for live shows. “I think there is so much pent up demand for the performing arts, so much pent up demand for collective activities and experiences and the joy of celebrating together. I actually think we can project that we will have the biggest audience we’ve seen in years. “

“We had 6,000 people, 8,000 people in these parks watching ballet under the stars,” Barnett added, referring to the tour across the country. “I think the audience is ready, we’ve missed them and can’t wait to come back.”


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