May 7, 2020
Ballet Relief Effort Brings Messages of Hope
As the powers that be ponder how to reopen Broadway, a ballerina not far away is busy making sure the show goes on, even if it means broadcasting from homes across the world. Working with Joseph Phillips, Misty Copeland is the innovator behind “Swans for Relief,” an organization working to raise funds for dancers all across the world who are out of work due to COVID-19 related shutdowns.
Copeland told the Associated Press the effort is a way to “bring the dance world together” in order to make a bigger impact as a group. “I started reaching out to my friends, and everyone I was reaching out to was like ‘Yes, I’m in!’”
This agreement led to a joint production for a virtual audience and led to a partnership with the Entertainment Industry Foundation to “help ballet dancers maintain living expenses.”
To show the strength of what might be possible, Copeland brought together 32 colleagues from across the globe, with dancers representing at least nine different countries performing the “Dying Swan.”
Copeland said one of her secondary goals with this effort was to begin a conversation about how the ballet world interacts with its fans. “We needed (to) reset, step back, and reassess how we do things… It’s about time we learn how to exist in this virtual world for the ballet community… figuring out new ways of bringing theater to people… reaching more people.”
For Copeland, one of the first steps in creating this conversation is showing how it can be done. She hopes to develop a better and greater idea from that seed, with help from other performers and producers.
This conversation about effective communication and new ways to connect with an audience runs parallel to a debate currently in process where producers and performers connected with Broadway are deciding when and how to reopen theaters. The parallel narratives create urgency for both groups to generate ideas and put them in front of an audience.
While there may be some friction and divergence between these ideas, that doesn’t necessarily mean the two efforts are in opposition with each other or that the narratives from one group necessarily contradict those from the other group. Effective communication around these efforts and to these audiences, for which there is significant crossover, is a vital component of how success in these endeavors will be developed and measured.
Copeland has an active and enthusiastic audience now. It will be interesting to watch how she promotes her vision going forward.