American Ballet Theater will not perform at the Metropolitan Opera House in 2021. The company announced the cancellation of its coming season at Lincoln Center on Tuesday, citing the impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on its ability to prepare for resuming live performances.
A decision has not yet been reached about the company’s shorter fall season at the David H. Koch Theater, another Lincoln Center stage.
Many other performing arts groups in New York, including the Metropolitan Opera and New York City Ballet, canceled their spring engagements earlier this fall. The Ballet Theater season was scheduled to begin late in the season, in June, which gave its leaders hope they might be able to persevere with their plans, the company’s executive director, Kara Medoff Barnett, said. But as the pandemic stretched on and virus cases surged this fall, the company determined that staging a full slate of indoor performances in New York City wouldn’t be feasible.
Despite the setback, Kevin McKenzie, Ballet Theater’s artistic director, said he was confident the company would be able to use what it’s learned during the pandemic to find creative ways to make and share dances until it’s possible to perform indoors again. “We know that we can do this and continue to create, because ultimately that’s our lifeblood,” he said. “Otherwise we’d just be, institutionally, trying to keep our pulse alive but we wouldn’t be following our mission.”
Last week, as a part of a virtual gala, the company presented new video dances by Pam Tanowitz, Darrell Grand Moultrie, Gemma Bond and Christopher Rudd that were created in cloistered “ballet bubbles” in upstate New York and Connecticut. More new work is planned for 2021, with pieces by Alexei Ratmansky, Lauren Lovette and Sonya Tayeh, as well as an expansion by Mr. Moultrie of his recent dance, set to debut either virtually or outdoors.
The details are still being finalized, but the company’s aim is to begin performing outside in locations around the United States this spring before returning to New York in the summer to dance for audiences in and around the city. Information about the coming events will be released this winter.