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OKC Ballet pivots into reimagined season due to coronavirus pandemic

The 2020-2021 season is scheduled to continue with Russian-born composer Igor Stravinsky’s iconic “The Firebird” on Feb. 12-14, the “Future Voices” choreographic showcase March 18-21, and an adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid” on April 16-18.

All shows in the reimagined season will be performed in one act, run about an hour and be performed without intermission. The changes will be safer for eventgoers by eliminating crowding the Civic Center lobby, bathrooms and concession areas during intermissions but also will accommodate a radically altered rehearsal schedule for the company.

“There’s going to have to be 10- to 15-minute cleaning sessions between each rehearsal, because we’re bringing the dancers into the space in cohorts. … Those groups will remain separate. They’ll never intersect with other groups in other areas of the company. So, our rehearsal process is really dictating the fact that we just cannot put on these elaborate two- and three-act ballets,” Mills said.

The second half of OKC Ballet’s 2020-2021 season originally was set to include the “Lady of the Camellias,” a sweeping adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’ French novel, in February and a mixed bill of short ballets titled “Made in the U.S.A.” in April. Those shows have been postponed to 2022.

“Dancers are coming into the space, and they’re partnering — they’re touching, they’re lifting — and none of that’s going to happen unless they’re living with the person. … I can only put two dancers together if they’re cohabiting together, whether they’re romantically involved or not. … They have to be living together,” he said.

“The American Guild of Musical Artists, the dancers union, it’s one of the protocols to address the pandemic that they have asked for. … So, that is the level of which we’re going to have to change the way we’re working.”

Financial challenges

With the financial hardships caused by the pandemic, Mills said he picked his original versions of family-friendly ballets with strong name recognition. The company already owns all the sets and costumes for “The Firebird” and “The Nutcracker.”

(Story continued below…)

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