Inspired By Protesters’ Demands For Racial Justice, Louisville Musician Creates New Song, Music Video Thursday, Jun 25 2020 

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Louisville musician Jaelan Cross, aka YGB JAY, created a song in response to the local protests against police brutality and racial injustice. The song is called “Anarchy.”

“I wrote ‘Anarchy’ on June the first,” Cross said. “I was in Vegas, watching friends live back home of what was going on, and I actually got to see the David McAtee event live on someones Facebook.”


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Due To The Pandemic, Kentucky Opera Rethinks 2020-2021 Season Saturday, Jun 20 2020 

The Kentucky Opera will no longer present performances at the Brown Theatre during its 2020-2021 season.

In a letter on the opera’s website, general director Barbara Lynne Jamison wrote that opera staff is having to reenvision the upcoming season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“In mid-March, Kentucky Opera responded to the pandemic by suspending, indefinitely, our final production of the year, the youth opera Robin Hood, and all end-of-season fundraising and school activities,” Jamison said. “Now, we have had to make the difficult decision to reimagine our 20/21 season.”

The opera had announced its new Brown-Forman season at the end of January. It was to have featured Puccini’s classic “La Bohème,” “Hansel and Gretel” and “O+E,” a fresh take on the opera “Orfeo ed Euridice,” based on the Greek myth of Orpheus. 

Jamison said the “pandemic has had a devastating impact on performing arts organizations and on the artists and artisans who rely on companies like Kentucky Opera for their livelihoods.” She said they had already committed to artist and creative team contracts and intend to uphold those contracts with “a reimagined artistic season and school programs.” 

Her letter linked to a form that allowed people to request a refund on their subscriptions, donate the cost of their subscriptions or apply the cost to a future credit. 

A spokesperson for the opera said they’re determining what the “reimagined” season will look like.

Other Louisville performing arts groups have taken their 2020-2021 seasons online, including Actors Theatre of Louisville and Louisville Ballet, presenting new virtual content for people to stream from home. 

New Chalk Art Mural Installed To Greet Guests Back Into KMAC Museum Friday, Jun 19 2020 

When Louisville’s KMAC Museum reopens Friday, you’ll be greeted by a striking new chalk art mural.

Stephanie Wolf | wfpl.org

Stewart’s mural at the KMAC Museum in Louisville on June 10, 2020.

It’s the work of Louisville artist Jaylin Stewart.

She wanted it to reflect some of the new realities of American life in 2020 — how as businesses, like KMAC, reopen, there are new rules.

Her mural of “larger-than-life figures” wear face masks and “each figure is doing something different with their body or doing something different with their hands,” Stewart said, as she gestured toward the mural’s three figures with her chalk-stained hands. 

The one closest to the front doors is a young boy, giving a salute. Next to him is a woman pressing the palms of her hands together, like Namaste, and another boy waving hello. 

“This is really just showing you how to greet people without actually physically touching them,” she said. “And they are all still smiling, you can tell they’re smiling under their mask. So it’s a very warm welcome.”

Stephanie Wolf | wfpl.org

A mural in process at the KMAC Museum on June 10, 2020.

Stewart said it’s also important to note that the three figures in her work are Black. Because, as a Black artist, she thinks representation is crucial. And while she conceptualized this mural before nationwide protests against racial injustice began, she said the civil unrest we’re witnessing underscores that point. 

“So, it’s just important for me to portray positive images of African American individuals in spaces where you usually do not see them.”

The mural is temporary, on display for just a few months. 

But Stewart likes the temporary nature of chalk art. She said it leaves room for new beginnings.

Stephanie Wolf | wfpl.org

Louisville artist Jaylin Stewart at KMAC Museum on June 10, 2020.

Stephanie Wolf | wfpl.org

A new mural at the KMAC Museum.

Stephanie Wolf | wfpl.org

Stewart’s containers of chalk as she works on a new mural at KMAC.

For Louisville’s Juneteenth Festivities, Artists Create A Virtual Celebration Thursday, Jun 18 2020 

Juneteenth is Friday, and Louisville will mark the annual holiday, also known as Freedom Day, with a number of events around the city, as well as a seven-episode locally produced online video series. 

The latter, the second annual Juneteenth Jubilee, is online because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The video project uses drama, dance, poetry and music to go deeper into what the holiday is about, both the history and the impacts of slavery that can still be felt today. 

Jecorey Arthur, a Louisville musician and candidate for Metro Council, directed it. 

“This year, we wanted to dive deeper into what Juneteenth meant,” Arthur, who is also a former employee of Louisville Public Media, said. “And not only the celebration of the day itself, but what was happening before Juneteenth, what happened during Juneteenth and what happened after Juneteenth… a deep dive into the history of slavery and the abolishment of it and how there’s really a throughline of Neo-slavery that still exists today that we are still impacted by.”

Juneteenth commemorates the day Union troops reached Texas and a general read federal orders, informing the state that it had to free all enslaved people. That was on June 19, 1865, almost two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation. 

Art can educate and inspire change, Arthur says.

“In some cases, people won’t listen to what you’re trying to tell them, unless you put it out in an engaging way through art,” he said. 

He points to art, such as spirituals, the music, created and sung by enslaved Black people.

“So, the art is so significant to us because, when our ancestors would hum those tunes, they reflected the sorrow but also gave us hope for tomorrow,” he said. “It’s a teaching tool, a healing tool and a therapeutic tool to get us through these moments.”

The virtual Juneteenth Jubilee, produced in partnership with Actors Theatre of Louisville and the Waterfront Park, features performances by Arthur, AMPED, Chanson Calhoun, Chase Dean, Dave Clark Trio, Hannah L. Drake, Jamesse, Jason Clayborn and the Atmosphere Changers, Jason Clayborn, JD Green, Maestro J, Pat Mathison, Sheryl Rouse, The La’Nita Rocknettes School of Dance, and The Untouchables.

“Although we would rather be celebrating in person with the community, we recognize the gravity of the COVID-19 pandemic and its disproportionate impact on African Americans,” Deborah Bilitski, president and executive director of Waterfront Park, said in a release. “We’re happy to offer a virtual, educational and celebratory experience that we hope will help to expand the community’s understanding of the significance of Juneteenth.”

“The importance and necessity of recognizing Juneteenth as a seminal North American holiday that celebrates the extraordinary contributions of black cultural, political, and social action, now more than ever, seems intuitively legible, and we are grateful to reflect that in our theater making with these compelling stories,” Actors Theatre’s executive artistic director, Robert Barry Fleming, said in a release.

The series will be streamed on the Waterfront’s website June 19 -July 31, 2020, as well as broadcast weekly on Wave Country with Dawne Gee at noon on Fridays.

You can find a list of Juneteenth events and celebrations at Juneteenth502.com

Speed Art Museum Will Reopen July 5 With Andy Warhol Show Monday, Jun 15 2020 

The Speed Art Museum will reopen to the public July 5 with a blockbuster exhibition featuring the work of pop artist Andy Warhol.

On Monday, the museum announced it will operate with reduced hours and use timed ticketing to limit guest capacity in this initial phase, reopening just the North Building on Fridays with a maximum of 125 visitors, and the whole building Saturdays and Sundays with no more than 625 visitors at a time. 

Museum director Stephen Reily said this capacity is below what the state allows, but they wanted to give people plenty of room to spread out. 

“We’re looking at a level that gives an enormous amount of space around visitors and a metric allowing at least 10 square feet per visitor even within galleries,” he told WFPL

Guests will be required to wear face coverings and follow social distancing guidelines. There will be frequent cleanings in high-touch areas throughout the day. Museum officials said staff will also wear masks and do health screenings before entering the building. The cafe will stay closed, as well as the Art Sparks interactive gallery for kids and the Speed Cinema. 

Reily said  the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, which loaned more than 150 pieces that will be displayed in the Speed’s exhibition, “has been a phenomenally flexible partner during this unprecedented time.” 

Museum staff continued to prepare for the opening of “Andy Warhol: Revelation” while the facility was closed due to the pandemic. The show looks at Warhol’s relationship with his Catholic faith and how that shaped his artistic output. It will be up through Nov. 29.

“We feel confident that we can share it with a lot of people even under reduced capacity and reduced hours,” Reily said of the exhibition.

The director said, while he’s been happy with all of the digital content flowing out of the museum since shutdown, he’s thrilled to open the building back up to the public. 

According to a press release from the museum, front line health care workers can get in for free through June 30, 2021. 

See This Exhibition Of Louisville Black Artists In Virtual Reality Monday, Jun 15 2020 

The art show “Black Before I Was Born” opened at Roots 101 African American Museum in Louisville in February. But it shut down about two weeks later due to the COVID 19 pandemic. The exhibition’s curator, multimedia artist Ashley Cathey, said the work by the Black artists, most of whom live in Louisville, was too important not to be seen. 

“We were basically discussing how we address being Black on a daily basis, and how that shapes our lives, how we also don’t have a lot of control over that narrative as far as how people see us, this happened before we existed,” Cathey said. 

In the case of Cathey’s work displayed in the show, she said it’s about the “weaponization” of her skin. 

“For some reason, when you look at me, you see a gun, you see a threat, but I’m just skin and flesh and organs like anyone else,” she said. “Unfortunately because I was Black before I was born, I walk into a space and I’m Black before then.” 

With the work sitting in the gallery, unable to have an audience, Cathey decided to create a virtual reality experience of the exhibition. That way people could view it, and buy it, without leaving their homes. It’s official opening is Sunday, June 21, and it will be online for about a month. 

Art In Virtual Reality 

She had recently been a part of a show in Brooklyn, a VR art show that simulated actually being in the gallery.

“It was really cool, and I really liked the fact that you could walk through it,” she said. 

Cathey had no experience creating something like this, but she found a digital platform that allowed her to build virtual gallery walls. Then she took photos of the artwork, photographed by local artist Kenyatta Bosman, and pulled those into Photoshop to make 3D renderings. There wasn’t a template for her to use. 

“I [didn’t] have a lot to do in quarantine. So I had a lot of time to kind of mess it up and try again and fail.” 

Courtesy Ashley Cathey

A screenshot of the VR art show.

She also wanted the VR experience to feel interactive. 

“When each person logs in from their IP address, it’ll show a small, little ghostly avatar,” Cathey asid. “So when you’re walking around in the space, you’ll see the people actually walk past you.”

There’s also a chat box. That way you can have conversations with other people in the virtual gallery. She said you can use a VR headset for the immersive experience. But she thinks the computer 2D version is cool too. 

VR Presents New Opportunities For Artists To ‘Create Their Own Space’

Louisville oil painter Sandra Charles has several works in the “Black Before I Was Born” exhibit, featuring Black women, “who had overcome obstacles in their lives, and I asked them if they would model for me as African warrior queens.”

Charles loves that this exhibition gets to have a longer life via virtual reality, especially since you don’t have to be in Louisville to go see it now.

“It opens it up to everybody in the world,” Charles said.

She added that it can be a tough slog for Black artists to break into the art world, feeling shut out by many galleries, which are often a major conduit for artists to sell pieces.

“If most of the people that come to their gallery are White, they may not want the African-American art, especially if the work is depicting the African-American experience,” she said. “So I think this virtual just opens it up to everybody.”

Chip Calloway, of MAD MOON VyBE Artwork, agrees.

“You create your own space, and that’s really what we need to [do is] create our own spaces,” Calloway, who is also featured in the “Black Before I Was Born” show, said. “So instead of beating down the doors of certain galleries that wouldn’t let you in, you’re actually creating your virtual four walls.”

Curator Ashley Cathey hopes this VR exhibition will provide exposure for the artists. She wants more people to know about them, to buy their work and to commission them to make new work. But she also wants people to understand that this show speaks to a reality that Black people have lived for centuries. 

“What’s happening in the world now, has been happening,” she explains. “It’s just hasn’t been happening in your world and it hasn’t caused chaos in everyone’s world. This is why we’re doing exhibitions to speak through our work, and to be present in a world that also doesn’t always accept us.”

Photos: Confederate Monument Removed From Kentucky’s Capitol Saturday, Jun 13 2020 

A statue of Jefferson Davis is on its way out of the Kentucky State Capitol Building. 

Crews removed it over the course of two days after the state’s Historic Properties Advisory Commission voted 11 to 1 to relocate it to Jefferson Davis Historic Park, in Fairview.

Cathy Thomas, who is the only Black member, said she voted for it to go because a monument to the former president of the Confederacy doesn’t belong at the Capitol.

“He is a symbol of the Confederacy that might still have me in chains. And that is why removing divisive symbols such as this, especially from publicly funded spaces that I pay into, it’s necessary and long overdue.” 

The one dissenting vote, Brandon Wilson, says he joined this board to quote “protect history, not remove it.”

A crew of more than a dozen, all in fluorescent yellow shirts, worked for hours to remove the Davis statue from where it has stood since 1936. While they worked, they recovered artifacts from the statue’s hollow plinth, including a newspaper dated Oct. 20, 1936 and an old empty bottle of Kentucky bourbon whiskey with a note inside.

 

Stephanie Wolf | wfpl.org

Steel beams installed to support the floor beneath the Jefferson Davis statue in the Capitol Rotunda.

Stephanie Wolf | wfpl.org

A crew of more than a dozen men lay metal rails during the removal process of the Davis statue at the State Capitol on June 12, 2020.

Stephanie Wolf | wfpl.org

A crew begins work on removing a statue of Jefferson Davis from the Capitol Rotunda on June 12, 2020.

Stephanie Wolf | wfpl.org

A crew begins work on removing a statue of Jefferson Davis from the Capitol Rotunda.

Stephanie Wolf | wfpl.org

Gwendolyn McCullough takes a break from cleaning to watch crews begin to remove the Davis statue from the Capitol on June 12, 2020.

Stephanie Wolf | wfpl.org

Crew members shine a light on the statue’s plaque.

Stephanie Wolf | wfpl.org

Crew members remove the statue’s plaque on June 12, 2020.

Stephanie Wolf | wfpl.org

A crew of more than a dozen men begin to remove a statue of Jefferson Davis from the State Capitol Building on June 12, 2020.

Stephanie Wolf | wfpl.org
Stephanie Wolf | wfpl.org

A crew member takes a measurement, preparing to remove the 15-foot marble statue of Jefferson Davis on June 12, 2020.

Stephanie Wolf | wfpl.org

Crew members work on removing a statue of Jefferson Davis from the Kentucky State Capitol Building on June 13, 2020.

Stephanie Wolf | wfpl.org

A crew member reaches into the hollow base of the statue, where the found an old newspaper and a bourbon bottle with a note inside.

Stephanie Wolf | wfpl.org

Workers pass off artifacts found inside the hollow base of the Jefferson Davis statue.

Stephanie Wolf | wfpl.org
Stephanie Wolf | wfpl.org

One of the artifacts found inside the hollow base of the Jefferson Davis statue on June 13, 2020.

Stephanie Wolf | wfpl.org

Crew members secure the Jefferson Davis statue on June 13, 2020.

Stephanie Wolf | wfpl.org

First Lady of Kentucky Britainy Beshear watches with her two kids.

Stephanie Wolf | wfpl.org
Stephanie Wolf | wfpl.org

Gov. Andy Beshear stops by during the removal process on June 13, 2020.

Stephanie Wolf | wfpl.org

Gov. Beshear takes a look inside the base of where the statue once stood.

Commission Votes To Remove Jefferson Davis Statue From Kentucky Capitol Friday, Jun 12 2020 

A statue of Jefferson Davis, the former president of the Confederacy, will be removed from the Kentucky State Capitol.

The Historic Properties Advisory Commission held a special meeting on Friday, at the request of Gov. Andy Beshear, to determine the monument’s fate. In an 11-1 vote, the commission determined that the statue will be relocated

Carol Mitchell, director of historic properties and state curator, recommended removal early on in the meeting. 

Commissioner Cathy Thomas pointed out that “there was no Jefferson Davis statue at our Capitol during his lifetime. The monument was unveiled in 1936, at the height of the Jim Crow ear, she said.

“It’s purpose was clear… to reaffirm a legacy of White Supremacy,” Thomas said during the meeting.

In a statement, Beshear called today “a historic day in the Commonwealth.”

“It was past time for this vote and for this action,” he said. “But what it will mean is that we get a little closer to truly being Team Kentucky – that every child who walks into this Capitol feels welcome, and none of them have to look at a symbol and a statue that stands for the enslavement of their ancestors.”

The approximately 15-foot-tall marble statue, a work commissioned decades ago by the United Daughters of the Confederacy’s Kentucky chapter, had been in the Capitol Rotunda for nearly 80 years, according to the state’s Historic Properties website. It was funded through private donations and $5,000 in state money in 1934, long after the Civil War had ended and during the Jim Crow era.

Beshear began calling for the “divisive” statue’s removal earlier in June. 

He’s not the first governor to attempt to take it down. Former governors Matt Bevin and Steve Beshear, Andy Beshear’s father, also said the statue shouldn’t be at the State Capitol. They didn’t have the necessary votes within the Historic Properties Advisory Commission, which oversees several historic state-owned properties and statues like the Davis one. In 2017, the commission did vote to modify the statue by removing a plaque labeling Davis a “Patriot-Hero-Statesman,” words not used on a nearby statue of former U.S. president Abraham Lincoln. The Associated Press reported that the commission found those words to be too “subjective” to remain. 

During a press conference on Thursday, Republican State Sen. Chris McDaniel said he pre-filed a bill that would relocate the Davis statue to the History Center or to Jefferson Davis State Park in Fairview. The proposed legislation would take the commission out of the removal equation, he said.

“I think the historical monuments folks are a creation of statute, and they can be directed by statute, and I intend to do so,” McDaniel said.

McDaniel also suggested that the Davis statue at the Capitol be replaced with one of Master Chief Boatswain’s Mate Carl M. Brashear.

“Brashear is a native of Larue County, grew up in Hawarden County, and went on to become the first African-American master diver in the United States Navy, and also the first amputee diver in the United States Navy,” McDaniel said.

During protests across the country the last two weeks, some officials have called for the removal of Confederate monuments and, in places like Richmond, Virginia, some protesters took matters into their own hands, pulling down statues of Davis, Confederate Gen. Williams Carter Wickham and Christopher Columbus, which was then tossed into a lake, according to a NPR report.

Critics of taking down monuments, like the statue of Jefferson Davis, often say their removal whitewashes or takes away from history, even claiming that the monuments themselves are a part of history.

Paul Farber rejects that notion. He’s the artistic director and co-founder of the Philadelphia-based public art and history research studio Monument Lab, and said monuments “do more to shape the past, than the past does to shape monuments.” 

“We know that history doesn’t happen because someone looks off into the distance riding a horse,” Farber said. “We know that they are really representations and idealizations, and we also know that they tell such a small slice of the actual history and memory of a place, yet when the debate comes up whether they should be removed or replaced is the only time that the concern about their history is brought to the fore.”

Farber continued that monuments “are reflections of the people who make them, their financial interests” and, in the case of Confederate monuments, “a recasting of history that really downplays and romanticizes slavery as opposed to doing the work of real repair.” 

To the notion of permanency, Farber said that might be an unrealistic expectation of public pieces in general. 

“Monuments appear permanent, and they are built with the claims of being permanent, but they’re not permanent,” he said. “It is in fact, financial resources and mindsets that keep them active.”

These financial resources are bills often footed by taxpayers, and Farber said it’s this “quiet upkeep” that is the most troubling for him when it comes to these kinds of monuments.

In 2018, Smithsonian Magazine reported that $40 million in taxpayer funds were spent on Confederate monuments and “groups that perpetuate racist ideologies” over the course of a decade. 

Looking forward to the kinds of monuments that the U.S. might erect in the future, Farber thinks it’s important to think about the kinds of individuals and moments a community wants to elevate on public land, and often, using public dollars. 

“History is not something that is merely elevated in marble or behind the glass of the museum display,” Farber said. “History is power, history is ongoing, history is the way that we have responded to the wounds of the past.”

Actors Theatre Opens 2020-21 Virtual Season With Works By Black Female Artists Friday, Jun 12 2020 

Actors Theatre of Louisville opens its 2020-2021 season Friday with “Fix It, Black Girl,” a live-streamed event that features spoken word, prose and song by six female Black artists. 

Louisville author and poet Hannah L. Drake curated the event, which will be streamed on Actors Theatre’s Facebook page at 7 p.m. Drake said, when she first started conversations with the theater company about this, they were “discussing Black woman voices” during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I just wanted to speak about Black women and our joy, our pain and our heartache and our history… and the love that I have for Black women who have taught me to be everything that I am today,” Drake said.

She said Black female voices are often “muted,” that they’re “usually an afterthought, especially after a crisis happens, and I wanted Black women to be a before thought.”

This celebration of Black women features works from Drake, Erica Denise, Janelle Renee Dunn, Robin G, Sujotta Pace and Kala Ross.

Drake said the title, “Fix It, Black Girl,” is taken from a piece that she wrote of the same name. 

“Black women are always expected to fix it, clean it, cook it, wash it and fix it,” Drake said. The world is falling apart, fix it Black girl… and it ends with, aren’t you tired, Black girl.”

The process of bringing all of these artists together, rehearsing and sharing together, has been emotional for Drake. To have it stream amid all of the protests happening around the country — something they didn’t anticipate happening at the time of the project’s conception — she said these works of art feel even more relevant. She pointed to a particular piece, during when an actor says the names of Black women who have been killed. Drake said, listening to it, it “brought tears to my eyes” because these are “names that just aren’t part of our lexicon,” but their lives matter. 

Actors Theatre’s Entire Season Will Be Digital

Following “Fix It, Black Girl,” Actors Theatre will present an entire virtual lineup for its 2020-2021 season, including a marquee play announced for the company’s annual Humana Festival, streamed through Actors Theatre Direct.

Scheduled for this fall, there will be a series of one-act plays “for the age of quarantine” called “COVID-Classics.” According to a press release, the collection will feature short plays from the likes of Chekhov, Pirandello, Strindberg and Apollinaire that resonate with life during the coronavirus pandemic.  

The new season will also feature “Where Did We Sit on the Bus?,” from playwright Brian Quijada. The one-person show is about growing up in an immigrant family in America. 

There are two radio plays on the lineup, “Dracula” in the fall and “A Christmas Carol” in the winter, and the premiere of “Ali Summit,” as part of the 45th Humana Festival of New American Plays is slated for spring 2021. Commissioned by Actors Theater, the new work by playwright Idris Goodwin, former producing artistic director of StageOne, “Ali Summit” unfolds in 1967 when Muhammad Ali met with some of the country’s top Black athletes, who had pushed back about his opposition to serving in the Vietnam War.

“In envisioning a new season of work at this time in our community, we seek to rigorously reimagine how a 21st century theater can be shared and of service to our Louisville and Kentuckiana family who are continuing to process the tragic murder of Breonna Taylor and… protests and violence, during the ongoing disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic,” executive artistic director Robert Barry Fleming said in a release.

For Its 2020-2021 Season, Louisville Ballet’s Stage Will Be A Digital One Thursday, Jun 11 2020 

The Louisville Ballet announced on Thursday that it won’t hold any in-person performances for its 2020-2021 season in light of the coronavirus, which continues to spread in Kentucky and across the country. 

Instead, the ballet company’s forthcoming season, titled the “Season of Illumination,” will be all virtual offerings, starting in mid-October with a new work created for the camera. 

“It became apparent pretty quickly that being in a crowd in a theater was not going to be something that was going to be safe or desirable for quite a while,” artistic director Robert Curran said. 

Curran was short on details about the first dance film of the ballet’s new season — the ballet will release more information on it by early September. He simply noted that these virtual performances will be different than sharing archived recordings of stage performances from previous seasons. 

“I think there is definitely a place for those kinds of recordings,” he said. “But I am interested in work that has a cinematic feel, work that is created specifically for film, for the digital stage.”

They’ll continue to keep some mystery around this season’s lineup, releasing details on each new film only a few weeks prior to its debut. Curran said by not announcing the entire season at once, they hope to create a similar excitement to that feeling people get anxiously awaiting a new season of their favorite series on a streaming platform like Netflix or Hulu. Curran thinks digital works will become a part of the ballet’s repertoire moving forward.

“Coming back onto the stage in the fall of 2021 is going to be super exciting, to be back where we belong,” Curran said. “But we will also have created this sparkling new platform that can run parallel to our stage performances enhancing every aspect of the production for our patrons.”

The ballet has partnered with KERTIS, a Louisville artists group, to create these virtual dance films. 

“If we can’t allow people to experience the ballet from inside an auditorium, we will re-imagine accessibility, performance and presentation,” KERTIS founder and president Stephen Kertis said in a release from the ballet. “This is an historic chance to engage with the challenges and opportunities of non-traditional physical (and emotional) space.”  

Each production will be available for a limited time and people can purchase virtual tickets to watch them on demand. 

Ballet Audiences Won’t Return To The Theater, But Dancers Will Return To The Studio

Curran said “The current plan is to record everything in our downtown studios in one controlled environment where we can… can put all of the necessary safety and hygiene precautions in place and protocols in place… and not expose anybody unnecessarily.” 

The Louisville Ballet dancers are expected to return to work Aug. 31, Curran said.

But a lot about the art form of dance puts dancers at high risk for a contagious respiratory virus, including the close-proximity nature of ballet and contemporary dance.

Companies in Europe, like the Dutch National Ballet in The Netherlands, have returned to their rehearsal studios with social distancing and disinfecting measures in place. And other European companies, such as the Ballet du Rhin in France, went back to work wearing face masks and splitting into smaller groups to mitigate potential spread of infections should a dancer contract the virus, the New York Times reported

Curran said he’s been keeping an eye on companies like these, as well as looking toward guidance from the national organization Dance/USA.

“We are watching how they adapt, what kind of precautions they put into place,” he said. “We are exploring every option that’s available to us in terms of cleaning the space regularly, we are exploring every option available to us for ventilation of the space.” 

The dance community more broadly is trying to understand what safety protocols will work best as dancers return.

Dance Docs, a podcast that features experts from the dance medical community, released an episode mid-May that looked at issues like social distancing and mask wearing in the dance environment. It offered suggestions such as changing out face coverings that become too sweaty, since a face mask “that is saturated in sweat is not going to do its job,” and to consider avoiding things like “forced breathing,” which is sometimes used in certain dance techniques and choreography, as well as reconfiguring the paths dancers travel as they move across the floor in a dance class or rehearsal. 

Curran said the Louisville Ballet is also considering keeping track of how long one group of dancers might be in the same space and they might move some rehearsals and filming outdoors, where, experts say, transmission of the virus can be reduced. 

The ballet will also do temperature and health screenings for anyone entering the building, asking them to self-submit that information, Curran said, adding that the ballet is open to working with dancers who might have already existing health conditions that would put them at higher risk or have concerns about going back into the studio. 

He said they’re still working out a lot of the details of both their mitigation plan and how to respond to exposure if an employee or dancer contracts the virus. That includes being cognizant of not stigmatizing infection so that people will be forthcoming about any signs of symptoms. 

“It’s about quickly responding to it, making sure that we are following any and all necessary steps to find out quickly and respond effectively and respectfully,” Curran said.

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