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22 May 2020, 13:08
More financial woes for a beloved UK arts institution, as the effects of coronavirus lockdown take their toll.
The Leeds-based company had just premiered new production Geisha in March, before having to close as the UK went into lockdown. Dancers were furloughed and are now training at home on their own and via Zoom.
Throughout quarantine, the Northern Ballet has been streaming performances online through a digital concert hall and asking members of the public for donations.
Some concert halls – including the Wiesbaden in Germany – are now starting to take in audiences at less than half capacity, as countries slowly ease out of lockdown.
Chief executive Mark Skipper told the BBC this would be financially “quite challenging” for the Northern Ballet.
He said: “If social distancing has to continue in theatre auditoriums you might be reducing a capacity of a 1,000 down to 200 – that really doesn’t make things financially viable.”
If the company were to reopen, social distancing on stage would be an issue. Shows would have to be re-choreographed to avoid dancers lifting, guiding and holding each other.
Premier dancer Antoinette Brooks-Daw said: “You can only do so much in a small space – as a dancer, you want to run, you want to leap, you want to travel.
“At the moment you’re dancing on a one- or two-metre square piece of flooring which is better than nothing, but it comes with its own challenges.”
People with tickets for cancelled Northern Ballet shows are being asked to avoid claiming a refund where possible.