HONOLULU (KHON2) — Due to COVID-19, Ballet Hawaii has canceled its annual live performance of the Nutcracker at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center.
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“We knew early on that we weren’t going to able to be on stage,” said Ballet Hawaii’s Artistic Director Pamela Taylor Tongg.
The announcement was disappointing for dancers, but not surprising.
“I think that was inevitable because we were not able to get to the theater and even if they were all on stage, we’d have to keep them six feet apart,” Taylor Tongg said about the difficulty of dancing during a pandemic.
Aria Kaneshige has been dancing with Ballet Hawaii for 11 years.
No Nutcracker for Kaneshige feels like no Christmas.
“Once we’re on stage at the Blaisdell, when you hear the symphony, see the amazing stage sets, and dance in beautiful costumes in falling snow in front of live audiences, honestly it is the best feeling,” Kaneshige said, reflecting on previous years. “It’s such a magical experience and it just doesn’t feel like Christmas without it.”
However, throughout the pandemic, Ballet Hawaii has tried to get creative.
The dance school offers online Zoom classes.
“It definitely is challenging because I don’t always have the right flooring or surface or enough space, and I’ve accidentally kicked my closet door a couple of times by accident, while trying to dance in my room,” Kaneshige said about what it’s like taking ballet class online.
Ballet Hawaii even recently started offering small in-person outdoor ballet classes.
Artistic Director Pamela Taylor Tongg said even though there will be no live performance of the Nutcracker, the dance school still plans on bringing a recorded version from years past to TV screens across the state.
“We’re working on a video and it has interaction and a story line,” she said. “We will have incorporated the 2016 [Nutcracker] that was our premier presentation,” Taylor Tongg explained.
Kaneshige will be acting in the recorded version of Ballet Hawaii’s Nutcracker.
“Because we can’t show the full in-person Nutcracker, it’s going to be a 55-minute video, and I’m actually going to be acting as Clara in the beginning,” Kaneshige said.
Ballet Hawaii said while the curtains remain down, the Nutcracker is not going anywhere.
“We just have to keep our hopes up and believe that this will pass, and that we will be back in action and the Nutcracker will continue,” Taylor Tongg said. “We look forward to presenting the Nutcracker on video.”
Ballet Hawaii said it is currently working on putting together the recorded version of the Nutcracker. Check out its website for when and where you can watch it.
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