Washington Ballet reopens with in-person performances
The Washington Ballet dancers returned to the stage last week for their first indoor concert since February 2020.
The Washington Ballet kicked off the 2021-22 season with the opening ceremony at the National Building Museum on October 21-22. The dancers have showcased their talent to their largest in-person audience since the COVID-19 pandemic forced the Washington Ballet to suspend in-person training and performances.
Returning to the stage after such a long hiatus was a moving and enriching experience for Adelaide Clauss, a dancer with the Washington Ballet company, who was delighted to perform on stage again.
“The whole experience was really quite magical; there’s something about being on a dark stage with stage lights and an audience that can’t be duplicated, ”Clauss wrote in an email to The Hoya. “It was also very rewarding to be able to do it as a whole company, and seeing all of my colleagues on stage and creating something with them was wonderful.”
The company had to transform the National Building Museum, a Penn Quarter museum dedicated to architecture and design, into a performance space that could accommodate the company, according to Catherine Eby, director of artistic operations for the Washington Ballet.
“One of the things that’s so interesting about our first performance at the National Building Museum is that it’s not a traditional theater space,” Eby said in a phone interview with The Hoya. “We built the theater from scratch, we set up all the seats, we put all the numbers on the chairs and we made the tickets ourselves, so all the things you get into a theater and you see as a member of the audience and as a dancer we created from scratch.
According to Eby, the dancers performed a variety of ballet pieces during the celebration of the opening show that catered to members of the public of all ages.
“It was structured a bit like a gala,” Eby said. “It really covered all the audience’s love for ballet, but also presented our dancers and their true range of experiences in a new and truly beautiful way.”
The 2021-22 season includes additional performances like “Swan Lake”, “Giselle” and “NEXTsteps”.
The Washington Ballet is also gearing up for its performances of “The Nutcracker” this holiday season, which is a traditional audience favorite, according to Gian Carlo Perez, a dancer with the Washington Ballet company.
“We just started this week with rehearsals, and it’s really exciting because we have families who come to watch the shows every year,” Perez said in a phone interview with The Hoya. “It’s one of the special times of the year because you can get back into that holiday spirit during Christmas.”
Due to COVID-19 safety precautions, the dancers practiced at home and performed virtually, so the return to in-person performances is a welcome improvement, according to Perez.
“For a year and a half, before we went back to the studios, we were training here at home and taking classes in the living rooms and dining rooms, so it was really tough,” Perez said. “When you go on stage, again for a show, you are exposed in front of an audience and you can again do what you have trained for all your life. “
The dancers and choreographers had to work hard to make sure their performances were ready for the stage and the audience, according to Clauss.
“Even when we got back to the studios there was still a long trajectory to get to the place of the live performance,” Clauss wrote. “I am very grateful to the audience and our supporters for coming and supporting us in our performances, as it has been a very long way to get back to performing in person, and now we are finally there.”
According to Eby, the opening ceremony was a wonderful return to the stage for the Washington Ballet, both for the dancers and for the audience.
“I think it was the perfect culmination of the anxiety and nerves to get back on stage, but also the absolute exhilaration of witnessing your hard work and the audience’s appreciation,” Eby said. . “It was a really nice result of all of these things together.”