Syracuse City Ballet dancer Claire Rathbun rehearsing for performances of Cinderella, which were cancelled due to COVID-19. Felipe Panama, Courtesy Syracuse City Ballet.

Dancing Through COVID-19: How 3 Pros Stuck at Home are Staying Positive and Productive

Coronavirus precautions are spreading throughout the U.S. and the world, and the dance community is feeling the effects. As schools and public gatherings are being shut down, dancers are forced to take time away from the barre and postpone performances. It's been heartbreaking to hear about almost every company of every size cancel upcoming performances, stop classes and rehearsals, and temporarily lay off dancers with no solidified end date.

As a dancer with Los Angeles Ballet, in a city where the spread of COVID-19 is rampant, I've had to adjust to this new reality. Somewhat thankfully, the company is already on a previously scheduled lay-off right now through April 13. Our season will continue through June, and we have yet to cancel shows or weeks of work, which hopefully will remain the case. Los Angeles Ballet School and our A Chance to Dance community outreach program, which hosts a day of free classes taught by LAB dancers every month, are on hiatus.

Two ballerinas in long white tutus and spkiy white crowns leap through the air with thier arms in a V-shape. Behind them, four similarly dressed dancers bour\u00e9e in sous-sus.

The author (left) and Julianne Kinasiewicz grand jeté during a performance of L.A. Ballet's Nutcracker.

Reed Hutchinson, Courtesy L.A. Ballet

Meanwhile, in upstate New York, the Syracuse City Ballet—which has been celebrating its first full season as a professional company—had to postpone its performances of Cinderella in accordance with Governor Andrew Cuomo's policies limiting large gatherings. "This was our first full-length as the new ballet company of Central New York," says company member Claire Rathbun, who was to perform the title role. "We were all very excited and prepared." The dancers found out that performances were being postponed two days ahead of opening night; the ballet has yet to be rescheduled. "Honestly, it didn't feel real at first," she continues. "We were so close to performing it. Like gearing up for a big race, and then not going."

Caitlyn McAvoy, wearing a blue, gold and red costume and gold headress for the Nutcracker's Arabian dance, lunges deeply in fourth position with her arms spread wide.

Caitlin McAvoy in Alabama Ballet's production of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker

Melissa Dooley, Courtesy Alabama Ballet

At Alabama Ballet, dancers learned that their performances of Romeo and Juliet would be postponed on the afternoon of opening night. Company dancer Caitlin McAvoy admits she was surprised and disappointed. But, she says, "I feel it was the right thing to do to protect the dancers, staff, crew and community. I know it was a tough call to make and we are sad to not be performing, but I think we all know it was the best decision." Now, like most other companies, the dancers are not rehearsing, and Romeo and Juliet will be rescheduled for next season, sometime in early spring of 2021.

So now that seemingly everyone is forced to stay at home, how are we staying active and motivated? The outpouring of dancers and teachers who are posting class videos online or hosting live streams has been a great learning opportunity. "I'm taking class from all different people via their live stream, like my old coach from The Rock School, Mariaelena Ruiz," says Rathbun. "I also took Ashley Bouder's class, and Tiler Peck's!" It's also worth seeing if there are local teachers in your area to take class from and work out with via streaming services, so that we can continue to support them.

McAvoy has been using her time off to be productive in other areas of her life, including doing work on her house, which she recently bought. She is quarantining with her boyfriend, a fellow dancer, who has been an added source of support. "It's helpful that we are experiencing the same situation together, both at work and with everything else going on," she says. "It is helping me stay positive."

As for me, in addition to giving myself barre and trying to stay active, I'm working on some extra projects. For example, I'm using this extra time to build a website to promote my dancing, teaching and writing in hopes that being productive now will allow me to hit the ground running when we go back to work. To stay inspired, I've been reaching out to my friends and family, watching some of my favorite dance videos online, reading, and following what other dancers are up to on social media, where everyone has been so supportive of each other. "It's really inspirational, actually, to see the dance world coming together like this," says McAvoy.

Even though we have a lot of unknowns ahead of us, the important thing to remember is that, as artists, we try our best to give back to others. The work we do, and our performances, are for the audience. The best way for us to give back right now is to follow these preventative measures to limit the spread of disease through our communities. Even if it's hard for us, by staying home we are helping our society, which in turn will be there to support us when we return to the stage.

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Peter Mueller, Courtesy Cincinnati Ballet

2020 Stars of the Corps: 10 Dancers Making Strides In and Out of the Spotlight

The corps de ballet make up the backbone of every company. In our Fall 2020 issue, we highlighted 10 ensemble standouts to keep your eye on. Click on their names and photos to learn more!

Dara Holmes, Joffrey Ballet

A male dancer catches a female dancer in his right arm as she wraps her left arm around his shoulder and executes a high arabesque on pointe. Both wear white costumes and dance in front of a blue backdrop onstage.

Dara Holmes and Edson Barbosa in Myles Thatcher's Body of Your Dreams

Cheryl Mann, Courtesy Joffrey Ballet

Wanyue Qiao, American Ballet Theatre

Wearing a powder blue tutu, cropped light yellow top and feather tiara, Wanyue Qiao does a piqu\u00e9 retir\u00e9 on pointe on her left leg and pulls her right arm in towards her.

Wanyue Qiao as an Odalisque in Konstantin Sergeyev's Le Corsaire

Gene Schiavone, Courtesy ABT

Joshua Guillemot-Rodgerson, Houston Ballet

Three male dancers in tight-fitting, multicolored costumes stand in positions of ascending height from left to right. All extend their right arms out in front of them.

Joshua Guillemot-Rodgerson (far right) with Saul Newport and Austen Acevedo in Oliver Halkowich's Following

Amitava Sarkar, Courtesy Houston Ballet

Leah McFadden, Colorado Ballet

Wearing a white pixie wig and a short light-pink tunic costume, a female ballet dancer poses in attitude front on pointe with her left arm bent across her ribs and her right hand held below her chin.

Leah McFadden as Amour in Colorado Ballet's production of Don Quixote

Mike Watson, Courtesy Colorado Ballet

Maria Coelho, Tulsa Ballet

Maria Coelho and Sasha Chernjavsky in Andy Blankenbuehler's Remember Our Song

Kate Lubar, Courtesy Tulsa Ballet

Alexander Reneff-Olson, San Francisco Ballet

A ballerina in a black feathered tutu stands triumphantly in sous-sus, holding the hand of a male dancer in a dark cloak with feathers underneath who raises his left hand in the air.

Alexander Reneff-Olson (right) as Von Rothbart with San Francisco Ballet principal Yuan Yuan Tan in Swan Lake

Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB

India Bradley, New York City Ballet

Wearing a blue dance dress with rhinestone embellishments and a sparkly tiara, India Bradley finishes a move with her arms out to the side and hands slightly flexed.

India Bradley practices backstage before a performance of Balanchine's Tschaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2.

Erin Baiano, Courtesy NYCB

Bella Ureta, Cincinnati Ballet

Wearing a white dress with pink corset, Bella Ureta does a first arabesque on pointe in front of an onstage stone wall.

Bella Ureta performs the Act I Pas de Trois in Kirk Peterson's Swan Lake

Hiromi Platt, Courtesy Cincinnati Ballet

Alejándro Gonzales, Oklahoma City Ballet

Dressed in a green bell-boy costume and hat, Alejandro Gonz\u00e1lez does a saut\u00e9 with his left leg in retir\u00e9 and his arms in a long diagonal from right to left. Other dancers in late 19-century period costumes watch him around the stage.

Alejandro González in Michael Pink's Dracula at Oklahoma City Ballet.

Kate Luber, Courtesy Oklahoma City Ballet

Nina Fernandes, Miami CIty Ballet

Wearing a long white tutu and crown, Nina Fernandes does a saut de chat in front of a wintery backdrop as snow falls from the top of the stage.

Nina Fernandes in George Balanchine's The Nutcracker

Alexander Iziliaev, Courtesy Miami City Ballet

Evelyn Cisneros-Legate. Photo by Beau Pearson, Courtesy Ballet West

Ballet West Academy's New Director on Dream Building During COVID-19

Evelyn Cisneros-Legate is bringing her hard-earned expertise to Ballet West. The former San Francisco Ballet star is taking over all four campuses of The Frederick Quinney Lawson Ballet West Academy as the school's new director.

Cisneros-Legate, whose mother put her in ballet classes in an attempt to help her overcome her shyness, trained at the San Francisco Ballet School and School of American Ballet before joining San Francisco Ballet as a full company member in 1977. She danced with the company for 23 years, breaking barriers as the first Mexican American to become a principal dancer in the U.S., and has graced the cover of Dance Magazine no fewer than three times.

As an educator, Cisneros-Legate has served as ballet coordinator at San Francisco Ballet, principal of Boston Ballet School's North Shore Studio and artistic director of after-school programming at the National Dance Institute (NDI). Dance Teacher spoke with her about her new position, her plans for the academy and leading in the time of COVID-19.

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Complexions Contemporary Ballet's Tatiana Melendez Proves There's No One Way to Have a Ballet Career

This is Pointe's Fall 2020 cover story. Click here to purchase this issue.

Talk to anyone about rising contemporary ballerina Tatiana Melendez, and one word is bound to come up repeatedly: "Fierce." And fair enough, that's a perfectly apt way to describe the 20-year-old's stage presence, her technical prowess and her determination to succeed. But don't make the mistake of assuming that fierceness is Melendez's only (or even her most noteworthy) quality. At the core of her dancing is a beautiful versatility. She's just as much at ease when etching pure classical lines as she is when boldly throwing herself off-balance.

"Selfish choreographer that I am, I want Tatiana to stay with Complexions for all time," says her boss Dwight Rhoden, Complexions Contemporary Ballet's co-artistic director and resident choreographer. "She has a theatricality about her: When the music comes on, she gets swept away." Not too shabby for someone who thought just a few years ago that maybe ballet wasn't for her.

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