Ballet’s return to stage barred by coronavirus, as 30 dancers test positive for COVID-19

20 August 2020, 11:52 | Updated: 20 August 2020, 14:36

Mariinsky Ballet, which was performing shows like ‘Le Spectre de la Rose’ pictured, is having to cancel ballet again.
Mariinsky Ballet, which was performing shows like ‘Le Spectre de la Rose’ pictured, is having to cancel ballet again. Picture: Getty

By Rosie Pentreath

Mariinsky Ballet was one of the first major ballet companies in the world to invite audiences back to live performances – but a mass outbreak of COVID-19 has stalled progress.

Mariinsky Ballet has cancelled a run of performances as 30 dancers test positive for COVID-19.

Mariinsky, one of the first major ballet companies in the world to have returned to the stage since the coronavirus pandemic, has been putting on shows featuring solos, duets and even full productions to indoor, socially-distanced audiences (see ‘Le Spectre de la Rose’ pictured above).

According to The New York Times, it has been testing its dancers weekly.

But now the company has cancelled its performances due to 30 dancers contracting coronavirus, in spite of safety measures put in place. Orchestral and opera performances remain on the bill for now.

Read more: This striking ballet video shows the reality of social distancing on stage >

Speaking to The New York Times, British dancer with Mariinsky, Xander Parish has said: “They’ve tried really hard to be safe. It’s not like our rehearsals have been badly organised or anything.”

Mariinsky Theatre re-opened towards the end of July after a three-month period of closure due to COVID-19. Audiences and performers returned with safety measures in place, including temperature-testing, mask-wearing, social distancing and, for performers, regular testing for COVID-19.

But maybe not regular enough. It doesn’t bode well for other European ballet companies, and the return of indoor live performance as a whole. Since Boris Johnson’s announcement that live music venues could open for performances attended by audience from 15 August onwards, several venues have announced concerts.

Confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide have now surpassed 22.4 million, with 788k deaths reported globally.