One day, in the not-too-distant future, we’ll have well-researched books, brilliant movies, pithy podcasts, and all historical accounts—complete with hindsight and scholarship—on the topic of this extraordinary time in our lives, but for now, we rely on recent and raw memories. The memories are deeply painful with hardship, sickness, separation, and loss. Each of us navigated the past 18 months in our own way. Every employee at PNB, just like every member of our audience and our community, has their own singular story.
As an organization, we struggled, but we also demonstrated resiliency. We continued to create and contribute in meaningful ways. When we decided to present a digital season, we aimed to reach our faithful local audience, and unexpectedly discovered a new audience in all 50 states and 39 countries. I can’t tell you how powerful this connection proved to be for all of us at PNB. Through uncertain times, your appetite and appreciation for PNB was absolutely sustaining. We acknowledge with gratitude, we might not be here today if not for your support.
On March 15, 2020, the sky actually fell. After a tumultuous rehearsal period, running from breaking news and CDC bulletins to intense rehearsals, a small group of us assembled in our Board Room to assess the looming pandemic and the possibility of an outbreak within our walls. A shutdown was deemed inevitable, and I pleaded for 8 more hours to capture our dress rehearsal. We began sending students, staff, musicians, and dancers home for an indeterminable hiatus. That night we filmed the dress rehearsal of David Dawson’s Empire Noir and Alejandro Cerrudo’s One Thousand Pieces as mandates and closures flooded in from city, state, and health officials. Backstage, people cried and hugged and then retreated to the safety of isolation and the terrifying unknown of COVID-19.
I won’t chronicle the next 18 months, because you lived through it too. But a few weeks ago, we gathered again on the lawn next to McCaw Hall and marked the moment when we would enter the studio as a company—as a community—for the first time in a year and a half. The return was not without extensive protocols, testing, and masking, but hope was in the air as a new season loomed on the horizon. As I write these notes, I’m anticipating four live performances of Singularly Cerrudo, with a small, masked, socially distanced audience. At the first sound of our orchestra, emotion will wash over each of us as a dear memory comes to life once again.
And if this utopian moment should not come to pass, trust PNB will find another method with which to deliver magic. Lifting people up through dance, music, and art is what we do.
At this pivotal juncture in our lives, I can think of no better narrator than Alejandro Cerrudo, PNB’s resident choreographer. His voice helps define our artistic identity—a voice acutely in tune with humanity, honing in on the laughter, love and vulnerability within each of us.
We’re back. It’s been a rough ride, but we have hope, and we have each other. On behalf of all of us at PNB let me express my gratitude to you, PNB’s core audience, here and afar, for sustaining us. We felt your love and support and will never forget it.
Featured photo: Noelani Pantastico and Lucien Postlewaite in Alejandro Cerrudo’s Silent Ghost, photo © Angela Sterling.
Photo: Alejandro Cerrudo in rehearsal for Future Memory with dancers Elle Macy and Dylan Wald, photo © Angela Sterling.