The coronavirus pandemic has caused many firsts, most in the negative. Among them is the first time that the San Antonio Metropolitan Ballet has ever had to cancel its season-ending Dance Kaleidoscope performance in its 36-year history.

Among the positive effects of the pandemic’s stay-at-home safety precautions are innovations in how performing arts groups continue working and delivering artistic content to audiences.

The ballet’s Dance Kaleidoscope 2020 will move online to a video format and, for the first time, 40 alumni will join the dance company’s 20 current members for the performance.

Former company dancer Karin Heiden is now associate artistic director of the company started by her mother Susan Beil Connally in 1983. Heiden created the new “choreographic outline” for what would normally be a set of staged ensemble performances, giving each participant a beginning pose and an end pose, with the freedom to improvise between. Each dancer was asked to wear what they would normally wear at home, since most were observing stay-at-home orders.

Heiden said she told the dancers, “Let your imagination run wild. You’ve got roughly 15, 20, 25 seconds to do some movement, and we’re going to put it all together.”

Former company dancer Alice Lam, now living in New York City, created a soundtrack that will replace the dancers’ separate soundtracks in order to unify the audio experience, Heiden said. The video format allowed dancers all over the world to participate, with former company members now in Berlin, Atlanta, California, and other locations. Dancers range in age from 11 to late 50s.

The result is subtitled “The Shelter In Place Choreography Project,” a 12-minute video, with each dancer leading to the next. The combined performance will go live on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. on YouTube, with tickets available for individuals, and groups on the honor system.

Ticket fees run from $12-45 depending on the size of the group, and the ballet will use the funds as it normally would for its season-ending live performances, for operating expenses of the company.

The Sunday performance is only Part One of the ballet’s series of planned online performances. Part Two will be a Works-In-Progress Showcase scheduled for late summer to feature dances choreographed by student choreographers of the company that would normally have been part of the Dance Kaleidoscope performance.

A preview of the Shelter In Place Choreography Project is currently available for viewing on the ballet’s YouTube channel.

Nicholas Frank

Nicholas Frank

Nicholas Frank moved from Milwaukee to San Antonio following a 2017 Artpace residency. Prior to that he taught college fine arts, curated a university contemporary art program, toured with an indie rock...