Fort Worth

Performing Arts in Limbo as Governor Abbott ‘Reopens’ Texas

NBCUniversal, Inc.

Inside the Texas Ballet Theater in Fort Worth, a student and instructor spent hours filming content for online summer programs. It’s the new norm for the foreseeable future.

Empty dance studios and canceled performances became the reality over the last several weeks.

Executive Vanessa Logan, a former Julliard-trained dancer herself, said it’s an emotional rollercoaster for the dancers.

“I think there are days where they are focused on a project and they’re participating in a creative way that feeds that part of them,” said Logan. “And then there are parts where I know they want to be in the studio.”

The pandemic hit the performing arts hard. Because of that, Logan said tough decisions were made. Their budget was cut drastically.

“We’ve cut $2-million from our whole budget,” she said. “That’s impacted salaries. It’s affected dancer contract weeks.”

As TBT adjusts in order to make do, questions remain. They wonder when they can resume. And they’ll need guidance on what that will look like. Logan was candid in sharing that they don’t yet have the answers about the logistics.

“It’s a great question. And I don’t know,” she said.

Governor Greg Abbott has a plan to “reopen” Texas with a list of guidelines for various services and activities. But there is no explicit mention of dance halls and other performing arts.

The Texas Ballet Theater serves as a school to 500 students and has professional performers.

“What does that mean? Do we fall in the category of a gym or do we fall in the category of school?” she asked. “What does it mean to social distance an audience? And what does that mean for the dancers if they’re social distancing?”

Logan said each dancer is a piece of the larger puzzle and is essential to the economy.

“They are going to the restaurants. They going to the grocery stores. They have rent and mortgages and they are part of the economic fabric,” she said.

“It is joy. It is a celebration of movement and storytelling.”

NBC 5 reached out to Governor Greg Abbott's office. A spokesperson for the governor acknowledged those in the performing arts might feel as though they're in limbo right now. We're told the governor is working closely with health experts to determine when that sector can resume.

In the meantime, the Texas Ballet Theater has discovered new ways to create and perform. Summer programming starts June 22 and includes programs for students ages 3 to 18. TBT also continues to share content on its YouTube channel. TBT also has a relief fund to supplement dancer and staff salaries as well as productions and operations.

For more information on the Texas Ballet Theater, click here.  

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