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Photo: Patrick Frenette.
Teresa D'Ortone. Photo: Vikki Sloviter.
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Ballet Bubbles
November 24, 2020
ABT has created “ballet bubbles” in various locations of New York State to safely gather dancers and choreographers in a quarantined setting in order to create new works.

"The chance to spend seven weeks together was something none of us could have imagined possible a few months back. We were so grateful for the opportunity to dance together once again."

By Teresa D'Ortone

Teresa D'Ortone and Tristan Brosnan in Amy Hall Garner's <i>Escapades</i> in the 2019-2020 season. Photo: Vince Bucci.
Teresa D'Ortone and Tristan Brosnan in Amy Hall Garner's Escapades in the 2019-2020 season. Photo: Vince Bucci.

ABT Studio Company formed a ballet bubble in East Haddam, Connecticut to rehearse existing repertoire and create new works to be filmed at Kaatsbaan Cultural Park in Tivoli, New York. Highlights from ABT Studio Company’s ballet bubble can be seen in ABT Today: The Future Starts Now on YouTube. Stay tuned for a full virtual program of filmed performances from the ABT Studio Company ballet bubble in 2021!

SideBarre asked ABT Studio Company member Teresa D’Ortone to tell us about her bubble experience.

Remember the feeling the first time you were away from home, leaving your loved ones and all that was familiar? Then finally returning home, and feeling as if you had never left? This was exactly how it felt when ABT Studio Company finally had the opportunity to reunite at Goodspeed Musicals in East Haddam, Connecticut this September.

The chance to spend seven weeks together was something none of us could have imagined possible a few months back. Arriving at the residency was the beginning of something new. We were so grateful for the opportunity to dance together once again.

ABT Studio Company in the ballet bubble at Goodspeed Musicals.
ABT Studio Company in the ballet bubble at Goodspeed Musicals.

Spending the remainder of our spring season at home, though tough at times, helped push a different kind of motivation to the surface.

I soon realized just how much of a privilege it is to dance in a studio every day. Preparing to get back into the studio was a challenge most dancers in our group were quick to accept. We worked virtually with choreographers and learned from all sorts of influential artists. Although we were in different places and different countries, each with our own challenges, our time in virtual class felt like home.

Upon arriving in East Haddam, we followed a strict protocol and quarantined for two weeks. We continued virtual classes, including technique, strength, and Pilates, all from our individual bedrooms. We had no contact with anyone outside of our Studio Company “bubble.”

The hardest part of the quarantine process was knowing that we were so close to our group, all in the same place and doing the same things, but unable to do those things together.

Teresa D'Ortone rehearsing Lauren Lovette's <i>La Folia Variations</i>, October 2020.
Teresa D'Ortone rehearsing Lauren Lovette's La Folia Variations, October 2020.

Those two weeks went by very quickly, and we were so fortunate to begin classes and rehearsals in the studio as a group once again. The very first step in the studio was an absolute relief! After imagining what that first day back would look like for so long, it is hard now to put those feelings into words.

It felt surreal to finally be back working with everyone in the same room, doing what we love.

The adjustment from dancing in our bedrooms to the studio came naturally for all of us. Of course, we were all a bit nervous the first few days, but we were quick to ease into our daily routine.

We had a variety of repertoire from last season that we were happy to begin working on again, as well as some new works we have yet to perform. The repertoire is a mix between classical and neo-classical/contemporary – taking on such diverse movement is one of the things I missed most while away.

We are putting together all of these pieces to film over the next two weeks while at Kaatsbaan Cultural Park in upstate New York. More than anything, I am excited for the opportunity to get back in a theater and perform, even without a live audience.

One of our pieces, choreographed by Lauren Lovette, was completed on the very last day before we were all sent home for COVID-19 lockdown in March. Working on this ballet now is particularly special and represents all the hard work that went into the last couple of months. Seeing everyone with newfound levels of motivation and energy has been well worth the wait, and I am trying to take in as much of this experience as possible. I know that looking to the future of ABT will continue to motivate us all!

Teresa D’Ortone joined ABT Studio Company in Fall of 2018.