When the venerated Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will take the stage in Dallas has been up in the air – at times, literally.
The troupe was due to perform and conduct a master class in Dallas as part of TITAS/Dance Unbound’s 2019-2020 season when shelter-in-place orders came in March. The organization brings dance companies to Dallas for performances and masterclasses.
“We had to deal with these things that were happening on a rolling basis – they didn’t all just flip a switch and were gone,” said Charles Santos, executive director of TITAS. “The first one happened when the United States closed the border to China, so that knocked China’s Beijing Dance Company out of being able to come in February.
“But then Alvin Ailey canceled while the dancers were in the air to come here,” he continued. “The Koreans were canceled because the border was closed. By the time the Canadians were supposed to come for Rubberband, we were already in shelter-in-place, and everything was shut down.”
The organization’s annual Command Performance gala, which showcases artists from leading companies in an evening dubbed “the pyrotechnics of dance,” was slated for June – and is now set for June 2021.
“The gala was the final one,” Santos said, adding that to keep afloat, the organization needed to reach out to patrons in hopes they would donate or defer their tickets instead of asking for refunds.
“People were very generous, and we are still waiting to hear from a few of them,” he said. “We have been very fortunate that a lot of our patrons have donated or deferred.”
Planning for the future, when it’s not known how or when a second wave of the coronavirus could happen, has been a challenge.
“For next year’s season, we have decided not to present any international companies because we don’t feel secure that they’re going to get visas to come here,” Santos said. “We’re going to have to do a quarantine or potentially a second wave and potentially a border close and whatnot. So we’re going to celebrate American artists next year.”
Santos said he is on the phone daily with other theaters working to come up with some best practices for fundraising – and returning to the stage.
“Everything is on the table,” he said. “I was talking to a national group of presenters across North America, and I said, ‘Here’s what we’re doing contractually with artists, and we’re doing this, and this and this,’ and one person said, ‘Oh, we’ve never done that.’
“And I said, ‘You know, we all have to stop saying that because we’ve never been in a pandemic situation – most of us in our lifetime. Everything is on the table.’”
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