Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Looking Back, Remembering Hurricane Sandy

As we are gearing up for BalletCollective’s rehearsal period beginning June 17th, in preparation for our Joyce debut, I can’t help but remember what it was like putting a performance on in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Our performance was scheduled for November 2, 2012, but our rehearsals were scheduled to begin Monday, October 29th, one of the worst days of the storm.As most of the New Jersey to New England coast was underwater, without power and filled with devastation, three of BalletCollective’s dancers were trapped in Michigan on a NYCB MOVES tour. Due to the storm's trajectory, their flights were canceled (which were originally scheduled to get them back to the city by Sunday, just in time). City Ballet then made arrangements for a bus to drive the dancers back. They stopped at a hotel in Poughkeepsie, New York to sleep for the night instead of driving through into the wee hours of the night, despite the dancers' pleas. Unfortunately for them, the hotel lost power and the dancers were again stranded, this time without hot water or electricity. Tuesday morning, the dancers boarded the bus hoping to have a smooth ride into the city. Traffic plagued them. What was supposed to be a 2 hour drive turned into 4 hours. Meanwhile, Troy was beginning to think he might need to cancel the performance, as almost everything in the city was closed. Strike one. We lost our rental space for Monday and Tuesday. Strike two. We could not get in touch with the theater to see if they were even planning on opening for us. Strike three. We also had only four of our 7 dancers in the city! Monday was a loss. No space, and No dancers. Panic was beginning to set in. Tuesday, still no space and no dancers. Getting crafty and as a last resort, Troy and I moved all our furniture out of the living room into the hall way and created a space for the dancers in the city to stretch, warm up, and work through the choreography. Troy knew we could not lose Tuesday completely. 

Photo: Troy Schumacher

It’s now Tuesday at 2 pm. Troy gets a phone call from one of the dancers on the bus. He's excited to learn that they had arrived safely to the city. He informed them that we were rehearsing in our apartment, as a last resort, but that they need NOT be there. Troy insisted that they get some rest, in hopes of being able to work with them on Wednesday. The three dancers so graciously said they wanted to come review their steps. 

Photo: Troy Schumacher

By 3 pm we had all seven of BalletCollective’s dancers in our living room going over the entire program. It was an amazing moment of commitment and strength. A big boost of confidence for Troy. In the end we did not lose Tuesday completely and the theater ended up opening on Wednesday. We crammed, like cramming for an exam, and put both ballets back together. The theater staff rallied to prepare the theater. Thursday was both our first day in the theater and our dress rehearsal too. Friday came, we were ready, the house was full, and BalletCollective put on a great, unforgettable performance!

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