With the number of COVID-19 cases continuing to climb, the Charleston Ballet has canceled its scheduled production of “ The Nutcracker.”Shows were scheduled for Dec. 11 and 12 at the Charleston Municipal Auditorium.
Kim Pauley, the ballet’s artistic director, said the situation with the pandemic just kept getting worse and there was no guarantee they’d even be able to put on a show.
“We had a meeting with the mayor. I talked with Al Najjar [president and CEO] at the Clay Center about what they had to do and it just looked unworkable for us to keep going,” she said. “I tried and I tried, but it was more than we could keep up with.”
Pauley said she had hoped to produce the ballet as a way to lift up the community. With the restrictions in place for attendance, the dance company would have lost money.
“But I had girls coming back from college and it seemed risky to bring the dancers from South Carolina up,” Pauley said.
The Charleston Ballet regularly partners with the Columbia Classical Ballet for performances. The South Carolina-based company provides male dancers and also helps fill out productions.
As with other arts organizations, it has been a tumultuous year for the Charleston Ballet. Following a shutdown in March, Pauley began resuming classes in May, first teaching online, but eventually returning to in-person instruction.
In August, the ballet announced its upcoming season, which included the annual holiday production.
Because of pandemic concerns, this year’s rendition of “The Nutcracker” had already been scaled back to only the second act and would have just featured dancers from the Charleston Ballet and the South Carolina troupe.
This year’s production would have also been without live music. Because of ongoing restrictions specific to music performance, as well as limits on the number of people inside a theater, the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra was unable to participate in this year’s show.
The symphony only recently performed its first concert since February, but that show streamed online without a live in-house audience and used a reduced orchestra playing mostly stringed instruments.
Pauley said she told her dancers the news late last week after the company ran through a full rehearsal of their parts.
“They were devastated and disappointed,” she said. “But I don’t think it’s the first time they’ve had a disappointment this year. We’ve had a lot of them.”
While the full ballet will not be performed this year, the Charleston Ballet did announce plans to perform selections from “The Nutcracker” at 11 a.m. Friday at the Charleston Town Center mall.
Pauley said she hated to cancel the show, but felt it was the responsible thing to do.
“We’ll just come back next year,” she said.