American Ballet Theater dancers spend month in bubble to perform at Segerstrom Center – Orange County Register

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Dressing in brightly colored costumes of red, blue and purple, the dancers of the American Ballet Theater effortlessly jumped and whirled onto the stage at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts during a rehearsal on Thursday, April 22.

The group were preparing for their first live show in over a year, which is slated to debut in the same theater where the company last took the stage in March 2020. The production also marks the first in-person show. at Segerstrom Hall since pandemic-related restrictions halted live broadcasts.

  • Dancers, from left, Anabel Katsnelson, Melvin Lawovi, Hannah Marshall, Duncan McIlwaine perform the west coast premiere of “Indestructible Light,” choreographed by Darrell Grand Moultrie, during a dress rehearsal for the American Ballet production Theater of “Uniting in Movement” at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • American Ballet Theater dancers Cory Stearns (Prince) and Devon Teuscher (Odette) perform Act II Pas de Deux of “Swan Lake”, with choreography by Lev Ivanov, during a dress rehearsal for the production of the American Ballet Theater “Uniting in Movement” at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • Kevin McKenzie, left, artistic director of the American Ballet Theater watches dancer Catherine Hurlin as she rehearses for the dance “Grand Pas Classique” during a dress rehearsal for ABT’s production “Uniting in Movement” at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa on Thursday, April 22, 2021 (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • Dancers Kiely Groenwegen, left, and João Menegussi are joined by American Ballet Theater associate artistic director Clinton Luckett, right, as they chat with choreographer Lauren Lovette, who is in New York City, during ‘a cell phone video conference during the 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. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register / SCNG )

  • American Ballet Theater choreographer Lauren Lovette, who is in New York City, holds a video conference with dancers 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. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • American Ballet Theater dancers perform the West Coast premiere of “Indestructible Light,” choreographed by Darrell Grand Moultrie, during a dress rehearsal for ABT’s production “Uniting in Movement” at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts of Costa Mesa Thursday, April 22, 2021 (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • Sung Woo Han and Catherine Hurlin perform “Grand Pas Classique” during a dress rehearsal for the American Ballet Theater’s “Uniting in Movement” production at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • American Ballet Theater dancers Betsey McBride and Jacob Clerico perform for the West Coast premiere of “Indestructible Light,” choreographed by Darrell Grand Moultrie, during a dress rehearsal for the production of “Uniting in Movement” by ‘American Ballet Theater at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • American Ballet Theater dancers Cory Stearns (Prince) and Devon Teuscher (Odette) perform Act II Pas de Deux of “Swan Lake”, with choreography by Lev Ivanov, during a dress rehearsal for the production of the American Ballet Theater “Uniting in Movement” at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • American Ballet Theater Artistic Director Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie, left, advises dancer Jonathan Klein during a dress rehearsal for the American Ballet Theatre’s production of “Uniting in Movement” at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts by Costa Mesa on Thursday, April 22, 2021 (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • American Ballet Theater dancers wear masks when they receive comments from Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie, white shirt, and Associate Artistic Director Clinton Luckett, black shirt, during the dress rehearsal for the production “Uniting in Movement” of the American Ballet Theater at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa on Thursday, April 22, 2021 (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • Dancers from the American Ballet Theater perform in the first company of “La Follia Variations”, choreographed by Lauren Lovette and costumes by Victor Glemaud, during a dress rehearsal for the American Ballet production “Uniting in Movement” Theater at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa on Thursday, April 22, 2021 (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • American Ballet Theater dancers Jonathan Klein, left, and Tyler Maloney perform at the premiere of the company “La Follia Variations”, choreographed by Lauren Lovette and costumes by Victor Glemaud, during a dress rehearsal for the American Ballet Theater production of “Uniting in Movement”. at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa on Thursday, April 22, 2021 (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • American Ballet Theater dancers Jose Sebastian and Chloe Misseldine perform at the premiere of the company “La Follia Variations”, choreographed by Lauren Lovette and costumes by Victor Glemaud, during a dress rehearsal for the production ” Uniting in Movement ”by the American Ballet Theater at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • Sung Woo Han performs in “Grand Pas Classique” 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. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • Sung Woo Han and Catherine Hurlin perform “Grand Pas Classique” during a dress rehearsal for the American Ballet Theater’s “Uniting in Movement” production at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • American Ballet Theater dancers Jose Sebastian and Chloe Misseldine perform at the premiere of the company “La Follia Variations”, choreographed by Lauren Lovette and costumes by Victor Glemaud, during a dress rehearsal for the production ” Uniting in Movement ”by the American Ballet Theater at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • American Ballet Theater dancers Jose Sebastian and Chloe Misseldine perform at the premiere of the company “La Follia Variations”, choreographed by Lauren Lovette and costumes by Victor Glemaud, during a dress rehearsal for the production ” Uniting in Movement ”by the American Ballet Theater at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register / SCNG)

“This is the first time that an ABT band has performed in front of a live audience, and it’s in the same place we were last time,” said Ashley Baer, ​​director of the company. “It’s really important.”

To prepare for the production “Uniting in Movement”, the company created a “bubble” in which dancers, choreographers and staff have lived and rehearsed over the past month. Staying at a hotel across from the Segerstrom Center, the performers were quarantined with masks for the first two weeks, participating in distance conditioning classes, and then were introduced to larger groups for more traditional rehearsals.

The idea for the bubble was born “out of necessity, because we wanted to be able to give opportunities to our dancers, we wanted to create work, but we really had to be creative in how we could do it,” Baer said.

The company worked with a medical advisor and his team to develop a step-by-step plan that would allow the dancers to eventually perform together without masks, Baer said. ABT has been using this bubble approach since September to drive virtual performance.

So far this has been successful, Baer said.

“I’m touching wood, because I’m going to say so far, it’s worked.”

Team members and support staff helping with the production were also tested daily before entering the theater, she said.

Kicking off this weekend in front of an audience of 300 at Segerstrom Hall, the show features four pieces – two by contemporary choreographers and two classical works. Both contemporary pieces have messages ripe for the time, Baer said.

Eight brightly colored dancers perform “La Follia Variations,” which “is really about finding some joy in all of this over the past year,” she said.

Choreographer Lauren Lovette took part in Thursday’s rehearsal via a virtual video call to give the dancers a few notes as they walked through the room.

The second contemporary work, “Indestructible Light,” an energetic and jazzy piece offers “feelings of resilience,” even in the name, Baer said.

Set to music by Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Neal Hefti and Billy Strayhorn, the choreographed piece by Darrell Grand Moultrie “celebrates the resilience of artists despite impossible obstacles,” its description reads.

“Le Lac des Cygnes” and “Grand Pas Classique” are the most classic pieces of the show.

Jose Sebastian, one of eight dancers performing “La Follia Variations” by Lovette, said the experience of living and rehearsing in the bubble has had its perks. Typically, performers travel to a new city for a performance and rehearse on stage for a day, he said.

Having so much more time to familiarize yourself with the stage, the lights and the theater “was such a gift,” he said.

Quarantining with the other dancers also gave them the opportunity to bond in a way that is normally not possible with their usual busy schedules. The classes were filled with “really encouraging energy,” said Sebastian.

“We are really trying to help each other, to help each other,” he said. “And there’s just this really beautiful energy in the classroom.”

The dancers have already performed the four pieces in front of a camera, which, once edited, will be available for streaming from May 12 to 26.

For in-person production, only 10% of Segerstrom’s approximately 3,000-seat theater will be occupied, in line with state coronavirus restrictions. Eating or drinking for live performances is prohibited in indoor venues with 1,501 seats or more, in accordance with state guidelines.

Seeing California put in place guidelines for a live ballet production is “a little surreal” for Baer, ​​”because it’s been so long,” she said.

The energy that emanates from a live audience is something performers feel “even when they are silent,” sitting in their seats, Baer said.

For Sebastian, the production brings hope that live performances can return safely. He hopes to satisfy the desire for this in-person experience felt by both dancers and viewers.

“The dancers and I are hungry for performances,” said Sebastian. “And I think the audience is hungry to see the dance.

“And so we just want to have a good time, and we want the audience to have a good time,” he said. “I can’t wait to give back to the public. “


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