I have always enjoyed writing these notes to all of you before each program. Ordinarily, I share surprising facts and humorous anecdotes. A week ago, I might have mentioned our orchestra’s mastery of Philip Glass’ score, or the colossal scale of John Otto’s set that takes 45 minutes to construct, or the antics of sliding through Alejandro Cerrudo’s fluid moves on a water-soaked stage. But today is different. You already know that.
For very good reasons, we cannot perform our next program. At PNB, we are committed to fostering the best health and safety practices. We recognize the wise and preventative direction we have received from our city and state. We take the threat of COVID-19 very seriously and willingly accept any and all steps in order to ensure our health, your health, and the health of our community.
And yet seeing great art exist without audience is simply heartbreaking. I have never seen greater devotion, sweat, and determination from our dancers as they have worked to master the mental and physical challenges of Empire Noir and One Thousand Pieces. The works are simply beautiful—each distinct and rewarding. David Dawson’s Empire Noir is a tour de force, technically, aerobically, and emotionally. One Thousand Pieces, by PNB’s new resident choreographer, Alejandro Cerrudo, is an intoxicating fusion of dance, music, and art. When I see Alejandro’s work, I understand emotion and human interaction on a deeper level. How excited I was to bring this rep to you tomorrow night. How excited we all were—dancers, musicians, crew, designers, everyone.
Costumes have been fitted, sets constructed, dressers prepped for quick changes, orchestra rehearsed, and no one to see, hear, or admire. It is a sad day at PNB. Mark my words, these works will return.
I often sign off with “See you at the ballet”, and unfortunately I won’t see you this weekend or next. We have also cancelled five performances of a new production of Beauty & the Beast, specifically created for younger audiences, and our Discover Dance performance where hundreds of students from area public schools would have stepped into the spotlight on the McCaw Hall stage to perform their choreography for family and friends.
We will carry on with preparations for Giselle, and we all have our fingers crossed those April performances take place. But we can’t be sure. As of today, our School is closed, we have no performances, no special events, our Teachers’ Seminar, field trips, and community programs are all cancelled, we have no on-site meetings, staff is working remotely, we are in a bizarre place of limbo, and we don’t know what the future holds.
What we do know is that we have a fiercely loyal audience who love what dance brings to their lives. I’ll venture to say that for many of us, dance defines our lives.
We have little to no revenue because of the necessary steps we have taken to help ensure optimal public health. The ballet will lose over a million dollars in revenue before the end of March. If the public gathering ban continues through April, financial losses for that month will be over $1.5 million. Though PNB has always been run with fiscal prudence, we can’t sustain our operations for long without performances or classes.
Though the world seems upside down and the stock market is definitely down, we ask each of you to consider how you might help PNB at this critical time. Here’s what you can do: Help us by donating your purchased ticket value for One Thousand Pieces or Beauty & the Beast. Help us by stepping forward to renew your subscription for next season (just announced! It’s so good). Help us by taking a minute to make a gift to the ballet at this crucial moment. Your gift will sustain us as an organization and your support will mean so much at this vulnerable time. Consider the role you could play. As a director, I’m letting you know the first cast can’t go on, and we need you now.
We bring joy, perspective, entertainment, and empowerment to our audiences and to our community, and for all we offer, we are asking for you to give in whatever way you can. We need you now.
Thank you for being there for us.
See you at the ballet,