The Arts’ Pandemic Pivot

By Camille

When Covid hit last March, ballet was the first thing in my life to be affected. I distinctly remember having tickets to see San Francisco Ballet perform on March 14th, a Saturday, and being so disappointed to find out earlier in the week that the performance had been postponed. At the time, I thought that this rain check was disappointing, but little did I know that soon after my whole life would come grinding to a halt. Next came the school closures and the suspension of ballet classes at my studio. As I watched many industries turn to Zoom, I saw that the arts were falling behind. My grandfather, a professional jazz pianist, was suddenly out of work, and I saw pleas from desperate artists flooding my Instagram feed every time I opened up my phone. My high school, which had a specialized arts program, came up short in funding for the next school year as a result of our major fundraising gala being switched to a virtual format. In short, the arts didn’t have the luxury of creating a semblance of normalcy in a virtual world. 

Over the past year, I’ve seen artists do what they do best: think creatively. By mid-April, I began to see videos popping up of dancers creating DIY home studio spaces. Soon after, many dance suppliers began creating small rectangles of flooring meant specifically for in-home space constraints. I had a lot of fun setting up my own in-home dance space, and I’m actually thinking about keeping it once life goes back to normal. The convenience of rolling out of bed and taking class is unparalleled, and I love being able to work through classes on YouTube at my own pace.

In the dance world, the next creative solution that was born was outdoor classes. I never thought ballet could be effectively done outdoors until I saw the tents my studio set up. Fully floored and outfitted with barres and lights, they almost resembled the studio experience I had grown so used to. In some ways they surpassed it, with the fresh air and lack of mirrors creating a new type of sensory experience.

 

As we get closer to seeing live performances as a reality again, I couldn’t be more excited to finally reschedule that San Francisco Ballet performance. As it turns out, it never really was canceled, just postponed for an extended chunk of time.