KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) - For the first time in the Kansas City Ballet’s history, there will be no Nutcracker, which is a huge holiday tradition for so many families. The ballet joins the symphony and opera in cancelling performances through the end of the year.
Some people who come to see The Kansas City Ballet perform the Nutcracker have been coming every year of the ballet’s 63-year existence
“They’re not bringing their children anymore. They’re now bringing their grandchildren, their great grandchildren. That’s not going to happen for them. So we’re breaking a chain of tradition,” Executive Director of the Kansas City Ballet Jeffrey J Bentley said.
Bentley calls the decision to cancel the season, “excruciating.”
“You know what you have to do but it’s emotionally just awful,” Bentley said.
Previously, the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts said performances were canceled for June and July. The architectural gem hosts performances from the ballet, the Lyric Opera, the Kansas City Symphony and the Harriman-Jewell series. Tuesday, all announced they weren’t coming back until at least January.
When you consider the aerosol spread of the coronavirus, the health implications in opera should be obvious. They’re propelling the sound of their voices loud enough to not need any mics or amps.
“They’re singing and projecting on top of a full orchestra. That is a lot of sound and that is a lot of aerosol,” General Director and CEO of Lyric Opera of Kansas City Deborah Sandler said.
Even in ballet rehearsals, there’s no room for social distancing.
“Our art form is about touching and lifting and turning, being physically intimate,” Bentley said.
He says they plan to keep the company of dancers on the payroll, thanks to generous support, which they hope will continue. But the dancers will miss out on perfecting their craft.
And the 200 children who perform every year, a truly special opportunity, may not get that opportunity next year, he says.
The Lyric Opera functions differently, with principals brought in from around the world for each performance.
“They are paid engagement by engagement and it has been heartbreaking to watch their income just disappear,” Sandler said.
Then, says the Lyric’s General Director and CEO, there’s the chorus, the crew doing the set, costumes, makeup. All local, all part-time, all out of work.
“I know this is a time of great need but I’m hoping people will remember that we have the ability to heal the soul through our artwork and we ask people to please try and hang in with us so we can come out in good shape on the other side,” Sandler said.
The Lyric is now working on developing performances at their own theater, scaled down to provide for safer distancing for a small, spread out audience and digital streaming.