As disappointing as it is to not see the work in person from our Arts Department, the Maspeth Dance Company is proud to present and perform The Nutcracker this year! Ms.Coats, the director of The Nutcracker, had some things to share about the process of it all.
Like all forms of performing art, it's devastating to see that the bond between watchers and performers will not be like it used to be this year. Performers as a whole may not receive the same satisfaction from a performance when there isn’t a live audience. Ms.Coats mentioned that, “dancers don't typically dance in one spot. It would be very boring to watch and wouldn’t be interesting for the dancer.” Students at Maspeth or any other school who enjoy performing all wish they could go back to a live audience and receive the joy and thrill of people in the seats cheering and just watching one’s hard work begin to unfold. Ms.Coats explained that, “ We [the dance company] were really just happy to have any kind of performance opportunity”. As with many performances, there are always obstacles, but especially in a virtual situation.
Ms.Coats noted that, throughout rehearsals, “it was very challenging; not only did we have to do our rehearsals through Zoom, but we also had to learn the choreography through Zoom”. In rehearsals, Ms.Coats would film herself doing the choreography and would send that video to the dancers to learn it on their own. She added that, “they would have to practice half of the time in their bedrooms and living rooms and some of them had access to a backyard space, but for the most part very limited space and that was taken into account”.
Ms.Coats and the Maspeth Dance Company had to figure out a way to modify the choreography in one frame on Zoom and overall it was very difficult. “We had to start from scratch almost”. The choreography had to be tweaked and group dances were planned accordingly. For some dances like the ‘Sugar Plum Fairy’, they stayed mostly the same, however, group performances like the ‘Waltz of the Flowers’ had to be redone and new characters were added to the ballet. With the limited space they had for rehearsals and all the reconsiderations about the choreography itself, they were lucky when it came to recording.
“We were fortunate that Maspeth decided to have Mondays be the days that were dedicated to clubs and activities. We were able to come to the school one at a time to do their performance in the studio”. Because they weren't allowed to use the auditorium, Ms.Coats explained that they turned the studio into a black box theater. They hung lights and did everything they could to make the studio feel and look like a stage. Ms.Coats told me when the ballet does premiere, it will be edited so it looks as close as a ballet as it was before the pandemic.
If you didn't see the promotions on Instagram, The Nutcracker will be out on Friday, December 18th at 6pm on Livestream.com. Enjoy the show and happy holidays!