New York City Ballet announced Monday that it will conduct its spring season on the digital stage. Comprising six weeks of programming, the virtual season is slated to run full ballets, excerpts and original content, all presented free of charge on the New York City Ballet website, YouTube channel and Facebook page.
The season launches April 21, marking what would have been the start of the company’s spring calendar at Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater. Ballet performances will be released every Tuesday and Friday at 8 p.m. for the duration of the run, which officially closes May 29. After their debut, the productions will be available to watch on-demand for 72 hours.
“While it was extremely disappointing to cancel our spring season performances at Lincoln Center, we are thrilled that we can offer an online selection of works from our unparalleled repertory of ballets, performed by our incredible dancers and musicians,” New York City Ballet Artistic Director Jonathan Stafford said. “I know that our long-time audience members will recognize many of their favorites, and I am also excited that people from around the world who have never seen the company perform live will now be able to experience our performances through this digital season.”
George Balanchine’s “Allegro Brillante,” featuring Tiler Peck and Andrew Veyette in principal roles, debuts April 21. Introduced by Stafford, the piece is the first of the Tuesday releases, which will all feature works by Balanchine or Jerome Robbins, the company’s co-founders.
Friday evenings will be composed of contemporary works. A recent recording of Justin Peck’s new ballet “Rotunda,” set to a pulsing score by Nico Muhly, makes its digital curtain call April 24. The ballet’s composer will introduce the film. Forthcoming Fridays will be dedicated to the works of choreographers Kyle Abraham, Mauro Bigonzetti, Alexei Ratmansky, Gianna Reisen, Pam Tanowitz and Christopher Wheeldon.
“While the footage was not originally meant to be broadcast in this format, NYCB’s marketing and media department has done an extraordinary job, while working remotely, to prepare and stream this digital season,” Stafford said of the performances, originally taped for promotional purposes.
Those wishing to continue their ballet training online have the opportunity to take class with Wendy Whelan (currently the associate artistic director of New York City Ballet) through the new program “Wednesday with Wendy.” Conducted on the company’s Instagram beginning April 22 at 5 p.m., the classes are meant for all ages and levels.
“I want to create the atmosphere of a virtual ballet class for anyone and everyone,” Whelan said. “I want less experienced dancers to feel comfortable and more advanced dancers to feel like they can scale it up and push themselves. I want it to feel light, yet still focused and filled with insight. Most importantly, I hope to keep a sense of humor in what I offer — I want it to be fun!”
The digital season coincides with the launch of the next “City Ballet the Podcast” season, in addition to the interactive educational workshops “Ballet Essentials” and the children’s program “Ballet Break.” Each of the workshops will teach warm-up movements led by New York City Ballet artists. The first “Ballet Essentials” program, modeled on the popular in-person series of the same name, leaps into action with soloist Lauren King, who will explore Balanchine’s “Serenade” choreography.
The announcement of the digital season comes less than a month after the company canceled its spring run because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the institution’s closure, New York City Ballet launched an emergency relief fund, aimed at providing assistance to staff members affected by the coronavirus and subsequent shutdowns.
“The impact of this crisis on the well-being of the entire NYCB community of employees, which includes 100 dancers, 62 musicians, and more than 250 other administrative and theater staff members, will be significant,” Whelan said. “And we hope that our devoted patrons and audience members will support our relief efforts however they are able.”
Top Image: Tiler Peck and Andrew Veyette in George Balanchine’s "Allegro Brillante." Photo credit Paul Kolnik.